Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tesla Takes Legal Action Against Top Gear

by Mike - 

Tesla served the BBC's Top Gear with a lawsuit yesterday for libel and malicious falsehood. Tesla claims “it is the only recourse we have; our repeated attempts to contact the BBC, over the course of months, were ignored.”

This article was first published as Tesla Motors Files a Lawsuit Against BBCs Top Gear TV Show on Technorati.
The quote below is from Ricardo Reyes, Vice President of Communications for Tesla.

“About two years ago, Top Gear ran a segment containing false and exaggerated criticisms of the Roadster. In the episode, two Roadsters are depicted as suffering several critical "breakdowns" during track driving. The show’s script, written before the cars were tested, has host Jeremy Clarkson concluding the segment by saying, "in the real world, it doesn’t seem to work."”

Clarkson also concluded that the Tesla range was only 55 miles and not the 200 miles claimed by Tesla. Tesla contends that this episode is repeated on TV and hundreds of millions of viewers watch these “lies” around the world on a regular basis.

A spokesperson for Top Gear said. "We can confirm that we have received notification that Tesla have issued proceedings against the BBC. The BBC stands by the program and will be vigorously defending this claim."

Here are some questions that come to my mind:

* Why has Tesla waited more than two years after this episode first aired to take this legal action?

* Is Tesla feeling the pressure? Are they not selling enough cars?

* What would be the motivation of Top Gear to lie and make false claims about a car? This could damage their credibility with their viewers and I can see no benefit for Top Gear to do so.

I have watched this episode of Top Gear two times and I know it is from 2008 and it would not impact a buying decision for me in 2011.

When I had a test drive in the new Tesla in 2005 the transmission did not work so the entire drive was in second gear only. Tesla has now solved this problem with the transmission and customers do not think about it any more.

By taking legal action Tesla increases the visibility of these problems that they seem to have had in 2008 and run the risk of damaging their reputation even further.

Why wouldn’t it be better for Tesla to go to Top Gear and request a new test of the latest Tesla Roadster rather than spend millions of dollars on legal action?

I wrote about my test ride in a Tesla here.

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