By on December 26, 2008

UK carmudgeon Jeremy Clarkson remains under fire for misrepresenting the Tesla Roadster in his Top Gear test. Initially, when Jezza and his boys were caught pretending that the Roadster had run out of juice by pushing the Roadster into their off-track facility, they claimed dramatic license. If you don’t work for Tesla and live by the words “That’s Entertainment!”, it’s no biggie. But as Teslagate spreads into the MSM, Clarkson’s prevarications grow increasingly… tedious. First, the Torygraph presents Tesla’s side of the story, via spokesperson Rachel “Heart of Darkness” Konrad [sic]: “Never at any time did Clarkson or any of the Top Gear drivers run out of charge. In fact, they never got below 20 per cent charge … they never had to push a car off the track because of lack of charge or a fault. It’s unclear why they were filmed pushing one into a garage in the video.” Unclear my ass. Sigh. Even when they’re right, Tesla can’t help but weasel. But Clarkson’s cantankerous reply was worse.

“Clarkson denied the programme ever showed the car had stopped running.

‘We never said once that the car had run out of power. The car had to be pushed into the warehouse because you are not allowed to drive cars into a building.

‘We calculated that it would have run out of power after 53 miles but they can’t argue with that because that is a fact.'”

It’s a fact that Top Gear ran some numbers, but it’s not a fact that the Tesla Roadster would run out of charge at 53 miles of track work. Of course, Tesla’s Konrad didn’t provide the press with their range calculations in that circumstance. I’m better it would be lower.

Until and unless Tesla provides TTAC with a car for proper evaluation, or Top Gear goes back and does the red mist range test properly, I can’t help but think that Tesla’s getting the press coverage they deserve. Ditto Top Gear.

[thanks to Dutchchris for the link]

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15 Comments on “TTAC to Clarkson Re: Teslagate: Stop Digging...”

  • avatar

    No news is bad news for the two media whoring groups involved in this.
    But, meh, this news story just isn’t that interesting without any new developments. i.e. Clarkson announces to the world he’s a prick (but we knew that already anyway).

  • avatar

    GeeDashOff :

    Just leave the cash on the dressing table before you leave.

  • avatar

    “‘We calculated that it would have run out of power after 53 miles but they can’t argue with that because that is a fact.’”

    How long did they have the car? 10 minutes?

    Start the car, run it, measure the mileage when it stops. If the thing had a top speed 53 MPH it would have taken an hour.

    Running it on the road we went XXX miles before it died.

    Running it on the track we went XXX miles before it died.

    It took XXXX hours to charge.

    But, I have shame, not like the buttmonkeys at TG.

  • avatar

    Bah – doesn’t really matter what the Top Gear audience thinks of Tesla vs Jezza, since James May’s segment with the Honda FCX Clarity rendered the whole point of the Tesla rather moot. I’ll wait for my next generation motor vehicle to be one that spits out water.

  • avatar

    If the whole film was nothing but positive I would still refuse to buy one. 90k for a 2 seater electric car that goes 125mph? Yea forget that.

  • avatar

    Lion batteries in cars (hybrid or not)–> vaporware

    Fuel cell vehicles –> vaporware (at least until huge improvements are made to produce and transport liquid H2 more efficiently).

  • avatar

    Clarkson’s piece on the Tesla seemed extremely complimentary – he seemed to genuinely be impressed with the vehicle. But you can’t argue the fact the both test cars were rendered inoperable during the shoot. And that the charge time is ridiculous. And so is the price.

    But I can’t help but agree with James May and Jay Leno’s point that hydrogen power tech is the future. Yes, there is no infrastructure in place for it – but I’m fairly confident I’ll be seeing hydrogen fuel stations within the next 10 years, at least here in the Bay Area.

  • avatar

    “I’ll wait for my next generation motor vehicle to be one that spits out water.”

    I had an old Chrysler with a blown head gasket that did that.

  • avatar

    What??!! A television network staging dramatic footage???

    Why, that would be like putting model rocket engines under a pickup truck, overfilling the tank and leaving the gas cap unsealed to show how dangerous the gas tank is.

    Or, adding weights above the center of gravity to Jeeps so they can get dramatic roll over footage.

    Or drilling holes into Audi transmissions and pumping them full of compressed air to create “unintended acceleration”.

    TV journalists would never do such a thing. I’m shocked, shocked, I tell you.

  • avatar

    I saw the piece and it definitely gave a bad impression of the car. Tesla seems correct to complain.

  • avatar

    Many commentators have stated that it doesn’t really matter that Top Gear bends the facts a bit because the show is all about entertainment anyway. The Top Gear producers stated that in their philosophy misrepresenting the facts is not so bad if it serves to prove a point. So Everybody seems to think lying is okay, but is it?

    Today I was watching part of a rerun of Top Gears polar adventure. The point Top Gear wanted to make was that a bunch of bad out of shape middle-aged gentlemen could make it all the way to the North Pole drinking champaign and eating caviare all the way if they would just use the right Toyota product to get there. But thinking of what I know now about Top Gears philosophy I realised that Clarkson and May didn’t necessarily make it to the North Pole like the show suggested. For all I know they just made some bogus shots outside of some sauna resort near the pole circle to suggest an epic voyage. After all they were only trying to make a point right?

    That’s the problem when you start lying: you lose credibility, and that is a bad thing even if your sole purpose is entertainment.

  • avatar

    TG Also neatly sidestepped the Electricity Infrastructure argument they pointed+aimed+fired at the Tesla when coyly not telling us the sourcing methodologies for cracking off the H2 from the H20 that goes in the Honda FCX Clarity… …

    –>which brings us back to cheap, hyperefficient solar again and thus 32 years into the future.

    I’ll take a pint of algae or e.coli first.

  • avatar

    Call me crazy but building factories to produce hydrogen seems more trivial than creating a floating island with a giant drill, sailing said metal construct 30 miles offshore, drilling into the bottom of the ocean, and then somehow transporting the black gold to a refinery for processing.

    And I honestly don’t get the beef people have with TG / Jezza. They were given 2 Teslas. They both broke during testing. Jeremy liked the car and was impressed – up until they broke. Thus he concluded that the cars weren’t ready for primetime – and based on the initial batches’ tranny issues, I would agree. So why are people getting their panties in a bunch? You mean Tesla’s mad cuz the 2 million people that watch TG think their ride isn’t worth 90 million pounds? I’m pretty sure most people came to that conclusion before even seeing Jeremy’s piece.

  • avatar


    I am not sure how to react to your statement. I suppose the offshore drilling folks have been at it long enough to know what they are doing, but the H suppliers are still a bit inexperienced?

    At any rate, if it were so easy it would be being done, no? If you can put together a good biz plan, I know some interested venture capital folks.

    Lastly, your defense of libel is kinda sad. I would make my point by calling you names, but that is not allowed here.

  • avatar

    Here’s something interesting.

    According to their “calculations”, the Tesla can only go 55 miles on a single charge when being pushed hard on the track, right?

    Well, there was an episode where they flogged a Diesel BMW around the track as hard as they could, and got terrible gas mileage (I can’t find the specific number online, sadly.) And, as the flogged Prius results showed, any car being driven like that will get the worst possible gas mileage.

    So with that in mind, how bad is that range really? Let’s use a few numbers from their own tests, from the Prius being flogged and the worst/best of the five supercars in the MPG test, to estimate the range when driven flat out:

    Tesla Roadster: (estimated) 55 miles
    Ferrari 599: (estimated) 47 miles
    Audi R8: (estimated) 119 miles
    Toyota Prius: (estimated) 204.6 miles

    So put it alongside its own kind, and it’s at the lower end of the range scale (although not the lowest), and suddenly the poor Prius mileage doesn’t look so bad.

    Since everyone’s talking about the fake pushing and all that, I thought this little tidbit might be lost in the shuffle.

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