Tesla loses major part of court libel claim against Top Gear

Article by Christian Andrei, on October 21, 2011

Tesla Motors’ high court libel claim against Top Gear, a BBC program, has hit a major obstacle but the electric sports carmaker is still pursuing a malicious falsehood suit against the media corporation over an episode that demonstrated how the Roadster model’s battery lost power in a race. Mr Justice Tugendhat handed down a ruling at the high court in London last Wednesday, saying that there is no one looking at this episode of Top Gear who would compare the car's performance on the airfield track to its likely performance on a public road.

The hearing also touches on other claims, one of which is Tesla’s allegation that the Top Gear presenters made false statements about the Roadster in a malicious manner. The first time that Tesla filed a complaint against the BBC was in 2008, shortly after the episode was first shown.

The center of the complaint was on a statement by Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson that the Roadster ran out of battery after just 55 miles on its track, significantly shorter than the 200 miles that Tesla asserts that it could achieve.

Tugendhat said that Clarkson’s words are “wholly incapable of conveying any meaning at all to the effect that the claimant [Tesla] misled anyone." He explained that this is due to the distinction between the driving style and the nature of the track when compared to conditions on a public road.

Tesla claims that Top Gear used "staged" footage to give the impression that the Roadster had run out of battery. Tesla also finds fault with Top Gear’s declaration of a blown fuse to be brake failure. Top Gear also supposedly mistakenly showed that the model became immobile due to overheating.

Tesla Motors finally gave in to incessant demand for the right-hand-drive variant of the Tesla Roadster sports car and is now commencing production of the highway-capable electric vehicle. Cristiano Carlutti, Vice President for European Sales and Operations at Tesla, remarked that the right-hand-drive Roadster is the carmaker’s response to growing demand from high-performance car buyers in the United Kingdom seeking vehicles with low ecological impact.

He added that with the new version of the Roadster, Tesla is expanding its retail footprint in Europe and further building its community of owners and fans there. For potential customers and media wanting to test drive the right-hand-drive Roadsters, they could visit Tesla's showroom at 49-51 Cheval Place in London's Knightsbridge district (SW7 1EW).

The UK version of the 2010 Tesla Roadster features an upgraded sound system, an array of noise-reduction materials as well as a number of enhancements. UK companies availing of the Tesla Roadster could benefit from a 100-percent Writing Down Allowance, which means they could deduct the price of the EV from their taxable profits.

Interestingly, the Tesla Roadster is the only sports car qualified for the Writing Down Allowance in the UK. In terms of performance, the very energy efficient Tesla Roadster could sprint faster than almost any other car on the road. In fact, the new Tesla Roadster is the only production car that is twice as energy efficient as a Prius and faster than a Porsche.

With this performance, the Tesla Roadster is an excellent option for discerning drivers seeking a car that is both a high performing and eco friendly. In terms of range, the new Tesla Roadster could travel over 200 miles on a single charge in mixed driving conditions.

Once drained of energy, its battery can be recharged through conventional 220-volt sockets throughout Europe, or through solar or wind power. As a matter of fact, a Tesla Roadster recently broke the world record for the longest distance reached by an EV on a single charge at 313 miles.

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