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This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Thu, Mar 31, 2011

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

The model that was the subject of Top Gear’s review

LA CAR REPORTTop Gear, the popular British Broadcasting Company show, is no stranger to controversy. Last month, it almost started a war with North America when its hosts proclaimed, “Cars reflect the national characteristics… Mexican cars are just going to be lazy, feckless, flatulent…” This week, the electric car company, Tesla, got into the ring and sued the BBC television program for libel and malicious falsehood. It all started when Top Gear reviewed the Tesla Roadster a couple years ago. “Jeremy Clarkson and the lads got their hands on a pair of Roadsters,” says Chuck Squatriglia of Wired. “Clarkson raved about the car’s acceleration but ultimately declared the technology ‘doesn’t seem to work,’ because the cars ran out of juice after 55 miles, needed 16 hours to recharge, and broke down.” But it never happened. “The BBC conceded the car didn’t run out of juice and didn’t need to be pushed home, as was shown in the episode,” says Squatriglia. “Tesla—which claims it found two scripts for the program written before the cars were driven by Top Gear—squawked but was happy to let bygones be bygones.” The problem, according to the folks at Tesla, is that the BBC kept re-airing the episode over and over. “Tesla reluctantly took legal action after its repeated attempts to contact the BBC, over the course of months, were ignored,” states the electric car company on its new site, Tesla vs Top Gear. Tesla contends that Top Gear made several misrepresentations that continue to be aired: Falsehood 1: The Roadster ran out of charge and had to be pushed into a hangar by 4 men. Falsehood 2: The Roadster’s true range is only 55 miles per charge (not 211). Falsehood 3: One Roadster’s motor overheated and was completely immobilized as a result. Falsehood 4: The other Roadster’s brakes were broken, rendering the car undriveable. Falsehood 5: That neither of the two Roadsters provided to Top Gear was available for test due to these problems. “The breakdowns were staged and the statements are untrue,” asserts the electric car company . “Yet the programme’s lies are repeatedly and consistently re-broadcast to hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide on BBC television and web sites, and on other TV channels via syndication; the show is available on the internet, and is for sale on Top Gear DVD’s around the world.” Tesla says it wants people to know the truth, and correct the public’s misperceptions. “Tesla simply wants Top Gear to stop rebroadcasting this malicious episode and to correct the record, but they’ve repeatedly ignored Tesla’s requests.” If the experience over the Mexico flap is any indication, we don't expect the BBC to admit error. “We can confirm that we have received notification that Tesla have issued proceedings against the BBC,” said the broadcasting company in a statement to Bloomberg. “The BBC stands by the program and will be vigorously defending this claim.”

The British cast of Top Gear. L-R: Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May

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