Tesla Sues Top Gear TV Show For Libel

The popular BBC TV show Top Gear is reportedly being sued for libel and malicious falsehood by electric car company Tesla in relation to a show featuring one of its vehicles.

The show in question, which aired in December 2008, featured the Tesla roadster being test-driven by presenter Jeremy Clarkson. The car is shown running out of power and having to be pushed by the crew into a hangar to be recharged.

In the lawsuit, the company claims that Top Gear’s show about the Tesla Roadster contained inaccuracies and falsely represented the vehicle. Tesla alleges that the show:

• Claimed that the Roadster had a 55-mile battery range, when it actually has a 200-mile range
• Falsely showed the Roadster being pushed into the hanger to be recharged, when it wasn’t out of power
• Incorrectly alleged that one Roadster’s brakes were broken, whilst another overheated

The lawsuit names as defendants the show’s presenter Jeremy Clarkson, researcher Gavin Whitehead and executive producer Andrew Wilman, all of whom are likely to need some variety of professional indemnity insurance protection for libel issues.

As to why it has taken two years for the lawsuit to be filed, Tesla’s vice president of communications Ricardo Reyes said in a blog post:

“At the time, we were good sports.

“Yet the show continues to air. . . The programme’s lies are repeatedly and consistently re-broadcast to hundreds of millions of viewers on BBC channels and web sites.”

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