The first of all, let me say that I am a great fan of both Tesla and Top Gear. In 2008, the original BBC Top Gear program ran a piece on the Tesla Roadster that Tesla did not like. Tesla sued for libel and have lost both at the trial level and in the Court of Appeal for England and Wales. The March 5, 2013 Court of Appeal decision can be viewed here: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2013/152.html
While it seems that there were issues relating to overheating of the motor and brake problems, the only issue that went to the Court of Appeal related to the statements by Top Gear that on their track, the Roadster would have a range of only 55 miles rather than the 200 miles claimed by Tesla. The court found that no reasonable person would interprets the 55 mile range as being appropriate for normal driving as opposed to the drag racing and smoke-generating style popular on that program.
In this instance, I have to say that the courts have applied common sense. It would be very interesting to know what is the gas mileage of any ICE vehicle under normal Top Gear track driving conditions. A reduction in range from 55 miles from the "normal" 200 miles represents 27.5 of the "normal" range. I would guess that any ICE vehicle would see a similar reduction in gas mileage and range under the conditions of Jeremy Clarkson's driving on the Top Gear track.
Isn't that the issue? And shouldn't that have been the response of the company? I much prefer the approach that the company took to the recent New York Times article, responding with confidence and facts. Taking to the courts, it seems to me, was the action of an insecure and even immature company. Five years later, Tesla has grown in confidence, maturity and good judgment.
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