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Tesla Motors vs Top Gear, Appeal Turned Down

The Tesla Roadster - Top Gear's Victim of Choice?
The Tesla Roadster – Top Gear’s Victim of Choice?

This may sound like old news, but back in December 2008, BBC’s Top Gear test drove and released a scathing review and video of the Tesla Motors Roadster. Subsequently, Tesla Motors saw what it felt was a corresponding decrease in interest in Tesla Motors, suing BBC for libel and damages.

The case was tossed, but Tesla Motors held its ground, saying that Top Gear’s comments “intentionally or recklessly grossly misled potential purchasers.” In appeals, Judge Martin Moore-Bick disagreed with these claims as well as claims of lost sales, saying, “It would be obvious to a reasonable viewer… that the range derived from track testing was not in any meaningful sense the car’s true range.”

If that were true, then why would BBC’s Top Gear make such a big deal out of that one point? If the Tesla Motors Roadster were being tested for range, then Top Gear should have been testing on the streets under normal driving conditions.

If, on the other hand, the Roadster was being tested for performance, then by all means, keep the testing to the track. I’m no judge, but it seems to me that Top Gear mixed up the two tests, intentionally bringing up the Roadster’s range in a test that had nothing to do with range.

The judge also dismissed Tesla Motors‘ claims that some 200 vehicles wouldn’t be sold after the Top Gear review. Really, Judge Bick? This is interesting, because right after a similar New York Times review, also bungled, Tesla Motors received a number of cancellations, perhaps a couple hundred. Tesla Motors stock price slid back about $350 million total, meaning one ridiculous story in the NYT could have cost Tesla Motors something like half a billion dollars?

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