With the car industry still trying to convince the UK’s motoring millions that purchasing motor insurance on an electric car is a good idea, the latest failure to sue a top TV show by American electric car maker Tesla will not be welcome publicity.
The story behind the court case goes back to 2008 when Jeremy Clarkson, the effervescent presenter of BBC’s motoring show Top Gear, predicted that the Tesla Car would run out of power after 55 miles when driven fast round a motor test circuit. This was just a quarter of the range the manufacturers said the car could cover in one charge when used in its optimum conditions.
The car undertook one of the shows famous test runs and the commentary included Clarkson saying: “This car was really shaping up to be something wonderful but then although Tesla say it will do 200 miles we have worked out that on our track it will run out after just 55 miles and if it does run out it is not a quick job to charge it up again.”
The car was then showed being pushed by some of the crew and it was this that upset Tesla, they said the car had not run out of fuel and that the Top Gear film was “completely phoney”.
Tesla owner, Elon Musk, stated the show did the car no favours, saying: “The fundamental thing with Top Gear is that the show was about as authentic as a Milli Vanilli concert, but the problem is most viewers don’t know that. For European investors, every single one, except one, specifically asked us why our car broke down on Top Gear.”
Tesla lost the first court case in October of last year but came back to court again this week. However, the same judge still refused to grant an amended lawsuit saying the Top Gear segment: “Was not capable of being defamatory at all, or, if it is, it is not capable of being a sufficiently serious defamatory meaning to constitute a real and substantial tort.”
A BBC statement was issued saying: “We are pleased Mr Justice Tugendhat has ruled in favour of the BBC on both the issues before the court, first in striking out Tesla’s libel claim against the BBC, and secondly in describing Tesla’s malicious falsehood claim as so ‘gravely deficient’ it too could not be allowed to proceed.”