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Wednesday March 30, 2011 1:02 pm

Tesla Motors suing ‘Top Gear’ for libel

Tesla suing top gear libel

Tesla Motors is suing the BBC show "Top Gear" for allegedly falsely representing the performance of one of its electric vehicles.

In a segment that aired three years ago, "Top Gear" showed a Tesla Roadster running out of electric charge during a race with the gas-powered Lotus Elise, a car that the Roadster is based on. Tesla claims that neither of the two cars it loaned to "Top Gear" for the segment dipped below 20 percent charge. The company contends there's no way the Roadster ran out of juice, and it wants the BBC to stop airing the segment.

"When 'Top Gear' reviewed the Tesla Roadster, the episode that aired contained lies and misinformation about the Roadster's performance, behavior, and reliability," Tesla said in a statement. "Tesla reluctantly took legal action after its repeated attempts to contact the BBC, over the course of months, were ignored."

A spokesperson for "Top Gear" defended the show's integrity. "We can confirm that we have received notification that Tesla have issued proceedings against the BBC. The BBC stands by the program and will be vigorously defending this claim."

But Tesla claims that it was misrepresented in several ways. One Roadster broke down during filming and had to be pushed into the "Top Gear" hangar so that it could be recharged. "Top Gear" depicted the car's mileage range at 55 miles per charge, but Tesla says the car's actual range is 211 miles per charge. One car's motor overheated and broke down as a result. The other Roadster's brakes were broken, so the car couldn't be driven. However, Tesla claims that "Top Gear" staged these problems. Tesla provided two cars to "Top Gear" for testing and argues that neither vehicle had any of these issues depicted in the program.

Tesla is suing "Top Gear" for libel and malicious falsehood, seeking damages of "not more than" 100,000 pounds (about $160,300). The carmaker wants the BBC to yank the segment from programming and to correct the misrepresentation.

This article, written by Leslie Horn, originally appeared on PCMag.com and is republished on Gear Live with the permission of Ziff Davis, Inc.

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