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The volt-head has overtaken the petrol-head - provided the batteries don’t run out…..

31 March 2011

Tesla has issued proceedings against the BBC for malicious falsehood and defamation following Top Gear’s review of Tesla’s Roadster car.

The defamation claim relates to a statement that the electric car would only last 55 miles on a test track, despite the manufacturer claim of 200 miles. Tesla says the statement suggests it had “grossly misled potential purchasers” but surely most drivers know that a car’s range is reduced if driven hard, especially around a race track.

The malicious falsehood claim appears stronger. The claim states the Roadster never actually ran out of charge, despite footage showing it being pushed into a garage. Whether the footage amounts to malicious falsehood may depend on whether such footage is widely understood to be dramatised for entertainment purposes, or whether it should be taken to be a serious review of the car’s performance.

Tesla are evidently upset but litigating will only draw attention to other features of the Top Gear review, potentially exposing their cars to further negative coverage.

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