Way back in Series 12, Episode 7, Top Gear had a segment where Jeremy reviews the then new Tesla Roadster. If you recall the segment, the overall view of the Roadster wasn’t very flattering, with numerous breakdowns and a false claim on the supposed road range, leading to a lawsuit in 2011.
Jeremy claimed in the segment that even if you engage in very spirited driving, the Roadster has a range of 200 miles between charges. He then took to the track to test the range but ended up with with a distance of only 55 miles before the batteries ran out of juice.
Tesla, understandably, was quite upset with Top Gear for defamatory comments because they had “intentionally or recklessly grossly misled potential customer purchases.”
Tesla eventually lost that case, but that was then, and this is now. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has now come forth with some new information, stating that Top Gear had prepared a script for the segment before even taking delivery of the Tesla, which essentially prepared the part with the car breaking down.
Musk mentions in the video that when they dropped the Roadster off, they saw the script sitting on the table, which revealed the planned “breakdown” of the Roadster.
Musk said that particularly in Europe, investors kept asking why the car was breaking down on Top Gear, and to add salt to the wound, they kept repeating that episode.
So the big question here is: can these claims be believed? I am most certainly not pointing any fingers at Top Gear or Elon Musk here; I wasn’t there so I can’t prove what was written or said.
I suppose another question remains: What reason would Top Gear have to sabotage Tesla? Sure they haven’t been shy about their dislike for electric cars, but the Tesla Roadster segment actually started off in a very flattering manner. At the end of the day, this really boils down to a “he said, she said” situation.