The California-based firm, which makes the world’s only serially-produced electric supercar, announced legal proceedings against the BBC March 29 claiming libel and malicious falsehood, after a spat which has lasted over two years.
Tesla’s complaint relates to an episode of the show which featured the show’s host Jeremy Clarkson reviewing its Roadster, before saying the car would run out of power after 55 miles, the motor had overheated and the brakes had failed.
It says that the Top Gear piece, which shows four men pushing the Tesla Roadster into a hangar, contained lies and misinformation about the Roadster’s performance, behavior and reliability, specifically accusing the program of staging the breakdowns.
The BBC, for its part, says that it stands by its program and will be ‘vigorously’ defending the claim.
Top Gear is the world’s most popular motoring show, screened to hundreds of millions of viewers around the world in multiple languages. The YouTube clip of Clarkson’s review has garnered nearly 200,000 views alone.
However, it has repeatedly been accused of a bias against electric cars, with Tesla saying that its verdict on the Roadster was pre-judged, pre-determined and pre-scripted.
A win for Tesla could lend some credence to critics’ claims, although it is unlikely to change the outspoken style of the program, which has been forced to issue numerous apologies to various parties through the years.
Tesla says that it simply wants the BBC to stop rebroadcasting the episode and to correct its record — but it will now be up to a judge to decide whether Top Gear was fair to one of the world’s first, and most expensive, electric cars