Tesla Sues the BBC and Top Gear for Libel Over "Falsehoods" in Roadster Episode

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A blue Tesla Roadster car recharging.

Justin Sullivan / Staff / Getty Images

If Tesla is Right, Top Gear did a Really Sh*tty Thing...
It seems like Elon Musk doesn't believe in the old saying that "the best trial is no trial at all". His messy divorce is airing CNBC's Divorce Wars, and now his company, Tesla Motors, is suing the BBC for "libel and malicious falsehood", alleging that a Top Gear episode that features the Tesla Roadster electric car (see below for the video) contains a "fake race" showing the Roadster running out of juice. So what are the claims against Top Gear?

You can read Tesla's claim (pdf). But here's the short version:

-Top Gear falsely claimed that the Roadster only got 55 miles of electric range, rather than over 200 miles.

-The first Roadster is shown running out of charge, being pushed to the hangar, and having brake problems. The second Roadster was shown having overheating problems. According to Tesla, neither Roadster was unavailable for driving at any time, they didn't run out of charge and didn't have to be pushed or any of that. They claim it was all faked.

-Tesla also claims that sounds and visual effects were added to the broadcast to support Top Gear's claims in the show. Here's I'm assuming that they are referring to sounds and visual in the scenes when the cars appear to break down.

-Tesla also says that while on the set a script was seen before filming that had the phrase: "It's just a shame that in the real world, it absolutely doesn't work."

A Reputation is a Fragile Thing...

A Telsa Roadster in front of a red wall.

Scott Olson / Staff / Getty Images

If all these allegations are true, the record should be set straight and Top Gear should at least apologize publicly. New technologies aren't perfect, but they should be tested fairly and criticized on their actual merits.

Defenders of Top Gear better not come out saying "Well, it's just entertainment! Don't take it seriously!" Blowing stuff up and racing across countries is entertainment, but faking problems during a review and damaging the reputation of a small company trying to do something that is very hard to pull off just isn't cool any way you slice it.

Via Tesla Motors, The Guardian