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Television The Courts Transportation United Kingdom Entertainment

Tesla Motors Loses Appeal Against BBC's Top Gear 385

Posted by timothy
from the plus-they-had-to-drive-it-left-handed dept.
TrueSatan writes "In a highly detailed decision, the UK Court of Appeal has rejected Tesla's appeal against an eartlier ruling by a lower court that, too, rejected Tesla's case. Reading through the decision it is clear that the judge saw Tesla's case as lacking sufficient detail and specific instances of proof to support each claim. The judge stated that that Tesla's chances of a successful appeal, should the case have gone to trial, were insufficiently high to justify holding a trial. He stated that Tesla's case had no real chance of success and in many notes picked appart Tesla's legal team's arguments. That said, he did not say that Top Gear were right or justified in portraying Tesla's vehicle in the way they did — merely that there wasn't a legal case for an appeal. One of the key flaws in Tesla's case, according to the judicial decision, was Tesla's inability to show that actual pecuniary harm, with detailed financial figures, had occurred."
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Tesla Motors Loses Appeal Against BBC's Top Gear

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  • by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @10:41AM (#43078393)

    With some of the costs paid by the UK taxpayer and the BBC license fee payers, Tesla really got lots of mileage (see what I did there?) out of this one.

    I agree that the amount of pecuniary harm this did them is probably zero - they were already selling out their full production capacity of Roadster vehicles. Top Gear was not limiting their profits, their production capacity was.

    But now their product and brand has had a great deal more exposure.

  • by Viol8 (599362) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @10:46AM (#43078443)

    Because that's all it is really. And to a certain extent I sympathise with Tesla somewhat - Top gear did represent the car as a bit of a dud whereas in fact they weren't 100% truthful with what happened. But then I suppose if you let your car be tested on what is effectively a car based comedy show you shouldn't expect unbiased reviews.

  • Exaggerations (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RazorSharp (1418697) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @10:47AM (#43078459)

    The people at Tesla should have watched an episode of Top Gear before they let those guys drive their car. Clarkson trashes anything he disapproves of -- that means most American cars, Japanese cars, and anything 'eco-friendly.' It was obvious they were exaggerating when it came to the Tesla but they had a valid point. You can't drive that thing balls-to-the-wall around the track without running out of juice super quick, and it takes a long time to recharge. That makes it a no-go for track enthusiasts, precisely the crowd it could appeal to.

    For most people, going to the track is an expensive and time-consuming activity. They don't have time to wait for their electric car to recharge, they want to get the most out of their weekend at the track as possible. A muscle car or Italian super car may go through fuel like mad, but filling it up takes mere minutes. That's the point Top Gear was making, they were just being real mean about it. Anyone who thinks that Clarkson and the boys don't bullshit for the sake of entertainment just haven't seen the show. It's pretty obvious when they are exaggerating or staging something. In the end, the opinions they give are genuine, however full of bias they may be.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @10:49AM (#43078483)

    Use "girls" as a pejorative? Really?

  • by Dr. Tom (23206) <tomh@nih.gov> on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @10:51AM (#43078517) Homepage

    Well, this counts as free advertising, however, I totally agree, companies like Tesla should stop trying to legislate their profits, which just makes them look like dicks, and put in the work to make the product better.

    --
    Fire all the lawyers.

  • Re:Exaggerations (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice@nOSPam.gmail.com> on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @11:10AM (#43078705)

    Yes, it will leave me stranded more than a gas car will - with an electric car, I have to plan my journey well ahead of getting into the car, while with a petrol or diesel powered car I can make sudden, unplanned 300 mile journeys without thinking about it.

    That might change in the future, but right now its the balls bare reality of electric car ownership.

  • Re:Exaggerations (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @11:17AM (#43078789)

    They certainly did have a valid point. They weren't even trashing the car, I've seen that episode half a dozen times and they rave about the acceleration, the quality of the interior, the handling... But, at the very end, they go on to say But! We had all of these maintenance problems. The breaks failed, the charger failed, the battery ran out of juice after 60 miles... etc... I believe he even said "It's just not ready yet" and a truer statement could not have been made. In the future, electric cars will be great. They are not great now. They took the car on a racetrack, that's what they do... this car sucks on a racetrack. This car is priced in the range of Porsche, Mazaradi, etc... it was compared to them and found lacking.

  • Top Gear is always far more harsh to American cars then any other countries cars, and they always misrepresent electric cars.

    I enjoy the show, but I am sure to have a grain of salt...the size of me head.

  • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @11:27AM (#43078881)
    Top Gear is an entertainment show, not a documentary. I wouldn't believe the results of any of the "testing" they do on there if I were looking to buy a car.

    The kind of people who buy the cars featured on Top Gear couldn't care less about whether it was panned on Top Gear or not.
  • by History's Coming To (1059484) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @11:37AM (#43078985) Journal
    Nope, it was one of a long series of programmes that get made because of the licence fee. Some don't make a profit and get canned, some don't make a profit and stick around because the BBC are legally obliged to broadcast them (educational, religious, political and news programming for example), and some are syndicated around the world, or sold for remake under licence (Doctor Who, Top Gear, Red Dwarf's original series etc). The latter subsidises the former - remember, we're only paying about US$150 per household per year, and there is pretty much zero advertising to fund it or get in the way of us actually enjoying a whole episode of something. Pretty good deal really. I'm with Mitch Benn on this. [youtube.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @11:39AM (#43079009)

    No, it's not an exaggeration, it is the exact fact, the figure of 55 mile on the track came from Tesla themselves.

    The claim from Tesla came from a willful misinterpretation of the *FACT* Clarkson stated. The claimed that Clarkson had implied that the car would only go 55 miles on the road.

    The judge look at it and said no. 55 miles on the track is not 55 miles on the road and nobody would confuse the two.

    They had no case, the lawsuit was simply to attempt to suppress bad reviews. Top Gear won and would never have lost.

    To Gear response to Elon Musks attack on them:

    http://www.motorauthority.com/news/1057825_top-gear-responds-to-tesla-lawsuit

    " We never said that the Tesla’s true range is only 55 miles, as opposed to their own claim of 211, or that it had actually ran out of charge. In the film our actual words were: “We calculated that on our track it would run out after 55 miles”."
    Elon Musk had tried to raise a straw man to knock down.

    "We never said that the Tesla was completely immobilized as a result of the motor overheating. We said the car had “reduced power”. This was true."
    Indeed it was true.

    "Tesla claims we were lying when we said the brakes were “broken”. They now say that all that had happened was that the fuse to the vacuum pump had failed, which meant that the brake just had to be pushed down much harder than usual. 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. Odd it seems so trivial to Tesla now, because on the day of filming they insisted on repairing the fuse before we could carry on driving the car."

    You know, many of you swallow the straw man arguments Elon Musk puts forward as if they are true. They're not, he *pretends* a critic has made claim X, because claim X is easier to knock down, than the unpleasant truth they actually said.

  • by daremonai (859175) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @11:43AM (#43079061)
    Have you seen Jeremy Clarkson in them?
  • Re:Exaggerations (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Motard (1553251) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @11:44AM (#43079073)

    The Stig.

    And people who buy cars because they're fast.

  • Re:Exaggerations (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SecurityGuy (217807) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @11:50AM (#43079145)

    Oh, I dunno...honesty?

  • Re:Exaggerations (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wookact (2804191) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @12:07PM (#43079369)
    To give accurate numbers on how long it actually lasted?
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @12:18PM (#43079493) Homepage

    According p. 67 of the auto issue, "Look for a full test [of the Tesla Model S] in a forthcoming issue." Their test track is in Connecticut, and hopefully they will have done some tests in chilly weather.

  • by BasilBrush (643681) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @12:32PM (#43079717)

    I still watch the show, because it's still funny.

    It's always been obvious they fake various things. It's never an accident when a caravan gets destroyed. The presenters don't really go out and buy the cars they use for the various cross country in a second hand car challenges. Etc.

    However, since the Tesla episode I now know that there is literally nothing that they won't fake. And nothing they won't lie about.

    Despite the fact that I do find it funny and still watch, I think it hurts the credibility of the BBC. And if there was a referendum on it, I'd vote to scrap the show.

  • by DrXym (126579) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @12:55PM (#43080027)
    Never buy version 1.0 of anything is the old adage. However it's clear the NYT went out of its way to malign the car.
  • by vux984 (928602) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @01:28PM (#43080467)

    I assure you many of The Sun reading muppets who watch the show will have gone out the next morning and gobbed off to their friends about how the car ran out of electricity and sure

    The point isn't really whether it did or did not run out of electricity in the particular scene where they pushed it back to the garage. That was staged for dramatic effect, but its not the point.

    The point is that the car does not have enough of a charge to last a day at the track. A lot of people who buy the Lotus Elise and Exige buy it, in part, for track days. The fact that the Tesla incarnation of that car will make it less than half a day before needing a lengthy battery re-charge is a valid criticism of the car.

    And the best case assumes you show up at the track fully charged, as opposed to driving it to the track and using up a good chunk of its battery just showing up. And we haven't even talked about getting home again afterwards.

    In a regular car, you fill up just before you pull into the track; and if you need to fill up during the day, its a 5 minute task, and if you are low at the end of the day you fill up before heading home.

    To get a good track day out of a Tesla you'd have to bring it in and take it home on a trailer, and you'd still have a tough time getting a full day out of it, even if you could manage to plug it in while you weren't actually on the track.

    Make no mistake, this was Clarkson pursuing his anti-green agenda and nothing else...

    Listen to yourself sometime, you sound like a conspiracy theorist crackpot. He doesn't have an 'anti-green' agenda. Sure he likes big noisy powerful v12 engines, but that's not an anti-green "agenda".

    I like Porsches, I find them far far more reliable, drivable, and practical than Ferraris. If I were reviewing a Ferrari I'd probably mention the relative maintenance and day to day practicality... but that's not an anti-ferrari "agenda". I'm not in league with my good friends the Germans to perpetrate some sort of anti-Italian conviction. Nor am I a 'cowardly person' seeking to use any opportunity to spread misinformation about Ferrari. That's just ridiculous nonsense.

    And at worst anyone interested in actually buying a Ferrari who hears me talk about maintenance will do their own research into what the maintenance will be like. Odds are if you are looking at a Ferrari, the maintenance isn't likely a huge concern and it wasn't going to be your daily driver anyway.

    Now watch the Tesla episode again. They liked the car. The only real complaint was that the battery technology is still a significant drawback. The range is only modest (but no worse than a typical sports car), but the recharge time is measured in hours not minutes.

    More recently they reviewed a Nissan Leaf; and they were really upbeat about that car too, except for the recharge issue. In that episode they ended up pushing them around too. Was the battery really empty for the scene? I don't know. Does it really matter? No. The point they were making is again, that you have to pay a lot more attention when planning a trip to ensure that you don't run out of juice, and that recharging the battery takes a long time.

    The ONLY thing I didn't like about the Nissan Leaf segment is that while they remarked that it would take 12+ hrs to fully recharge it, they didn't talk about the time to reach a 50%/ / 75% / 90% charge. These numbers are typically much lower, and while still too long to be at all convenient, at least don't require a hotel.

  • by bfandreas (603438) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @01:56PM (#43080865)
    Have you seen Jeremy Clarkson in a scuba diving suit? You will prefer the jeans, trust me.

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