Tesla Motors Responds to Top Gear Review

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

From egmcartech.com: “For the record: Thanks to The Stig’s impressive turn behind the wheel, the Tesla Roadster gets a higher ranking in Top Gear’s performance board than a Porsche 911 GT3. Jeremy Clarkson, a die-hard ‘petrol head’ with a clear bias against green cars generally, said that it must be ‘snowing in hell’ because he had such a great time driving the Roadster and now considers himself a “volt head” thanks to the Roadster’s amazing performance. This is amazingly high praise from Clarkson, whose entire schtick is to savage even his most beloved petrol-guzzling sports cars.

However, I would like to clarify a couple things. Never at any time did Clarkson or any of the Top Gear drivers run out of charge. In fact, they never got below 20 percent charge in either car; they never had to push a car off the track because of lack of charge or a fault. (It’s unclear why they were pushing one into a garage in the video; I’ll refrain from speculating about their motives and their acting ability.)

The “brake failure” Clarkson mentions was solely a blown fuse; a service technician replaced the Roadster’s pump and it was back up and running immediately. They were never without a car, and the Top Gear testing did not put the Roadster’s reliability or safety in question whatsoever. Again, I’m going to leave out comments as to why the good folks at Top Gear might have mischaracterized the blown fuse as a brake failure, which is was decidedly not.

I am also unclear as to why Clarkson said it took 16 hours to recharge the Roadster without qualifying that statement at all. The vast majority of people who have taken delivery of their Roadsters (and there are more than 100 of them now) have much faster systems that recharge from dead to full in as little as 3.5 hours. However, I really enjoyed and heartily endorse Clarkson’s suggestion that, if people want to race Roadsters 24-7, they should simply buy two.

If anyone continued watching the show until the end, you no doubt also saw the show’s astoundingly uninformed coverage of Honda’s hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle, which cannot be purchased at all but rather leased for $600 per month in Southern California to 200 pre-qualified customers in the next three years. Clarkson rips on the Roadster for being three times the price of a Lotus Elise — yet I find it odd that the humble advocates for everyman at Top Gear never even mention the price of the Clarity, which is about five times the cost of a Roadster, according to industry analysts. (Honda refuses to divulge the price of the Clarity, but its previous FCX, first delivered in 2002, cost about $1 million each to produce, and executives have coyly indicated that the new ones are about half the cost of the old ones.)

A conspicuous omission, me thinks. Let the readers beware.

Rachel Konrad


Senior Communications Manager


Tesla Motors Inc.”


[thanks to tigeraid for the link]

Robert Farago
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  • Tedward Tedward on Dec 18, 2008

    Kamm...I didn't like the CNW study either (no reviewable data means no provable credibility) but my reservations are mostly limited to the fact that they guard their data. If you bother to even look at the study (and I didn't read the whole thing, not claiming that) it's pretty clear that the Prius scores so badly because at the point of manufacture so few of the parts are having their environmental costs spread across a wide range of vehicles. It absolutely makes sense that this would have the effect of making the prius more environmentally expensive (but without data...). In this case it's pretty obvious that the Prius will score better as more vehicles are spun off of that drivetrain. Also, I think they scored the Prius with a very low likely milage in it's lifetime, don't remember why, but I would also assume as this number goes up then the car's score would also improve. I'm not going to cheerlead this study for the rest of the discussion though (it really isn't kosher on manufacturing weight imo), but I do want to say that I think it has received far more press than it merits, and that the Prius scoring higher than the HUMMER should really be taken in the context of the Prius being a relatively modern vehicle with little parts sharing. Certainly nothing like a GM truck line. Also, are you insinuating that MIT had something to do with paying for this study or were you saying that an MIT professor criticized the study, not sure.

  • B-Rad B-Rad on Dec 18, 2008

    Top Gear has disappointed me.

  • VoGhost Key phrase: "The EV market has grown." Yup, EV sales are up yet again, contrary to what nearly every article on the topic has been claiming. It's almost as if the press gets 30% of ad revenues from oil companies and legacy ICE OEMs.
  • Leonard Ostrander Daniel J, you are making the assertion. It's up to you to produce the evidence.
  • VoGhost I remember all those years when the brilliant TTAC commenters told me over and over how easy it was for legacy automakers to switch to making EVs, and that Tesla was due to be crushed by them in just a few months.
  • D "smaller vehicles" - sorry, that's way too much common sense! Americans won't go along because clever marketing convinced us our egos need big@ss trucks, which give auto manufacturers the profit margin they want, and everybody feels vulnerable now unless they too have a huge vehicle. Lower speed limits could help, but no politician wants to push that losing policy. We'll just go on building more lanes and driving faster and faster behind our vehicle's tinted privacy glass. Visions of Slim Pickens riding a big black jacked up truck out of a B-52.
  • NotMyCircusNotMyMonkeys dudes off the rails on drugs and full of hate and retribution. so is musky.
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