Electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla’s says BBC TV show Top Gear falsely stated that the Tesla Roadster could only travel 55 miles before needing to recharge, according to Top Gear executive producer Andy Wilman.
Wilman said the team behind Top Gear, a show that touts the latest and greatest cars, calculated that the Roadster would only be able to travel 55 miles while being driven aggressively around the Top Gear track. The team never explicitly said it would not go past 55 miles on the show or that it had run out of charge, he said. The calculations took into account that the team was supposed to push the Roadster to its limits.
Tesla claims that Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson falsely claimed the car ran out of charge after 55 miles and that the brakes were not functional. Tesla said that a fuse to a vacuum pump on the brake failed, meaning drivers would have to push the brake pedal down much harder to get the car to slow down, Wilman said.
“Well – to my mind, if the brakes are broken, then they’re broken, and if this happened to your car, you’d take it to the garage to get it fixed,” he said in a blog post.
The BBC said it would be “vigorously defending” the claims. But Tesla has aggressively pursued the lawsuit outside of the court room as well, working with media outlets to drum up publicity for the case and for the Tesla Roadster. Wilman said representatives from Tesla even reached out to The One Show, another nightly show on BBC, to get Tesla spokespeople on the show and have the hosts try out a Tesla Roadster to “reaffirm its virtues.”
Wilman also said Top Gear had already formulated an opinion about the Roadster before filming the show because the crew only had a day to shoot the eight-minute film. That means that the filming crew has a script draft so they know which parts to film and how to go about shooting the video. Tesla claims that it saw a copy of the script while on the set that said the car wouldn’t work in the real world. Wilman’s response: That’s because the car is very expensive and takes a long time to recharge, so the opinion was completely valid.
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