Now that we've all had some time to digest the review that Jeremy Clarkson gave the Tesla Roadster, perhaps some of the points made therein should be analyzed a bit further. One memorable scene had Clarkson and the Top Gear crew pushing their first Roadster (they had two for testing) into the garage after apparently running out of juice. Or did they? According to Rachel Konrad, Senior Communications Manager at Tesla Motors, the car was most definitely not out of juice. Although she chooses not to speculate herself, consider yourself free to discuss why the scene was filmed this way in the comments. Our guess would be that it made for good television. If so, that seems a bit like open deception.
A second issue that Clarkson had with the Roadster is with the brakes. Apparently, all of that race track flinging managed to blow a fuse in what we're assuming must be the regenerative braking system. After the fuse was replaced, there were no more problems. Our take on this is that a blown fuse, while not a big problem and easy to fix, is still an issue and all that the average driver would know is that the brakes aren't working properly. Surely, though, Clarkson isn't the average driver, so perhaps he should have reported on the cause of the brake failure, but whatever.
The last point Konrad makes is that the 16-hour recharge time quoted by Top Gear is an absolute worst-case scenario - sort of like filling your gas tank using a thousand Dixie Cups full of petrol. Anyone looking to purchase a Tesla should be aware that the car can take a much faster charge and that the appropriate equipment is available to do just that right from the factory. In any case, it was fun watching the Roadster being flung around by The Stig and listening to Clarkson's comments, proving once again that Top Gear is the most entertaining auto show on TV. Read Rachel's entire comment, made on a blog posting over at Dvorak.org, after the break.
Blog Post by Rachel Konrad:
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.)
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 Clarkson's suggestion that, if people want to race Roadsters 24-7, they should simply buy two. ;)
Senior Communications Manager
Tesla Motors Inc.