• Dec 19, 2008
Click the image above to watch Top Gear's review of the Tesla Roadster after the jump

Tesla Motors is crying foul on a few of the claims made by Jeremy Clarkson in his recent review of the electric Roadster. You might recall that Clarkson ran out of juice while flinging the slinky Lotus-derived Tesla around the Top Gear test track. This was the main point driven home by the TG crew as to why electric vehicles are not yet ready for prime-time. Not so fast, says Rachel Konrad, Senior Communications Manager at Tesla Motors. Clarkson's Roadster still had 20% battery capacity left when it was pushed into a nearby hanger. Why the deception? We can't imagine Clarkson ever calling an end to his tail-out fun just because the gas power gauge reads a quarter-tank.

Another salient point from the TG review centered around a brake failure. Again, according to Konrad, the problem was actually a blown fuse, and although Clarkson makes it seem in his video review as if he was without a Roadster to continue driving while repairs were being made, that was simply not the case -- the other car was all charged up and ready to go. Lastly, Clarkson harps on the Tesla's 16-hour recharge time. It does indeed take that long to recharge from a standard outlet, but that's like filling your gas tank with an eye dropper. If absolutely necessary, it'll work, but there are much better solutions available. Tesla offers chargers that can replenish its Roadster in as little as 3.5-hours.

Later in the same episode, James May tested the Honda FCX Clarity and gave it a glowing review. There are indeed issues with EVs that will need to be addressed before we're ready for the widespread replacement of our fossil fueled cars, and the same can be said of those fueled by hydrogen. At this pivotal moment in automotive history, we wonder if a more balanced view of all the available options wouldn't be more appropriate. To watch the video review in full, click past to the break.

[Source: AutoblogGreen]

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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 75 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      3.5 hours instead of 16?

      Whoopdeedo.

      This is such an impractical niche toy that it's laughable.
        • 6 Years Ago
        @Noidor & g00fba11: Not that Top Gear has much credibility either. Remember, these are the same *entertainers* who couldn't tell the difference between horsepower generated at the engine, and horsepower delivered to the wheels.

        Source:
        http://www.autoblog.com/2007/03/05/hp-101-top-gear-provides-false-info-on-gt500-horsepower-rating/
        • 6 Years Ago
        i know its SO impractical to charge up your electric vehicle in your own garage while you sleep.

        i'd much rather drive out to a gas station in the cold.
        • 6 Years Ago
        To me, Tesla has zero credibility, especially after all the firings of top management within past 6 months, their stupid lawsuit against Henrik Fisker and so forth. In this case I think they're being deceptive and trying to discredit Clarkson's review.

        Screw them...
        • 6 Years Ago
        Tesla may not have any credibility, but neither does top gear. They present a skin deep review of any car for the average tv viewer . . . it's pure entertainment. Their reviews are heavily biased (which they know), Jeremy uses the same surprised exclamation of enjoyment for every car he drives . . it's entirely predictable. What Tesla says should be taken with a grain of salt, sure . . but what anyone on Top Gear says is meaningless entertainment.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I agree Clarkson was pretty hash on the Tesla when I think it's a lot better then it made it out to seem.

      With a 3.5 Hour recharge time you won't be using this car for long trips because you 'd be stopping more then you'd generally like but as a day to day car it works great, drive it around during the day, at night plug it in just as you would with your cell phone.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "You can lease one at a quite reasonable $600 per month.":

        A glorified civic for $600/mo? Reasonable?

        Bwhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Ha.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Pure FUD. The FCX Clarity does not cost over $1,000,000 to purchase. In fact, you can't purchase one.

        You can lease one at a quite reasonable $600 per month.

        "A limited number of vehicles will be leased to Southern Californians during the summer of 2008.
        * Three-year $600/month lease 1
        * Exterior Color: Star Garnet Metallic
        * Maintenance costs included in lease. American Honda also covers the costs of physical damage to the FCX Clarity resulting from any collision."

        All info here:
        http://automobiles.honda.com/fcx-clarity/

        Moron.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Well that and anyone who proffers a hydrogen fuel cell car (not for sale, $1,000,000+) as an alternative to internal combustion cars, and one that 'will probably be cheaper because there's one moving part' without... you know... telling the audience it costs 7 figures and won't be on sale any time soon, does seem to be glossing over the reality of the situation greatly. It felt odd, like TopGear had just heard of fuel cell cars, and didn't have any chance to process any of the news relating to them over the last decade. At that point, well and when they glazed over the cost and source of hydrogen, I forgot about the Tesla all together and kept checking the title of the video to see if someone hadn’t slipped a forbes auto feature in on me.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I honestly think that Jeremy has no idea on what is a good driver's car, on handling and on many other such things. He's damn fun though, so you don't care about his views, even though sometimes experienced racing drivers may strongly disagree with his views on such points such as "was it understeering or oversteering".
      This time though, many people were waiting for this test, and it wasn't like waiting for Veyron or Enzo. With those you knew one would be heavy truck with electronics and the other road-legal racing car, with the Tesla it was a test on a wholly new kind of sports car and Jeremy and TG failed miserably. They failed so much, that I thought Honda have paid them to do so!
      While watching the show with Tesla, I thought it wasn't possible! 16h?!?! Are you crazy? Have you worked with laptops and batteries in your lifes? That was very very rude by them, I know that it doesn't suit their agenda that eventually we're all going to drive EVs, but 16h? He does the same with Porsche and their cars are beautiful to drive!
      And brakes, they're done by Lotus! I'm damn sure, they are as good as any other manufacturer can get them and I'm sure if the car was used by someone who could actually drive fast, then they would be OK! Happily, the clock doesn't lie and the Tesla was crazy fast.
      Clarkson should sometimes try to talk straight truth, not just what he likes to believe must be the truth.
      I'm car fan, but if I want to see something fun, it's TG. If I want to see some test of a car that I've waited so long, it's never TG. I mean, Clarkson is dreadfully unskillful driver, Hammond has such a lack of talent and may be only Capt. Slow is a little bit fast because he thinks. Their reviews are often completely the opposite to 5th Gear and I believe Jason or Tiff much more with their 50 or so yrs of combined racing experience!
      So Tesla and Fisker, send your cars to Fifth Gear in order to see the proper Jason vs Tiff dogfight.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I doubt this had any impact on Tesla's sales numbers.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Top Gear is not a factual show. I guess Tesla didn't understand this (like many American fans of the show). They didn't push a roadster around to try to make Tesla look bad, they did it because they thought it would be entertaining (funny). Tesla just got caught in the crossfire.

      As to 'Tesla offers chargers that can replenish its Roadster in as little as 3.5-hours.', right now Tesla doesn't offer ANY chargers. You get a charger with your car and you cannot get additional ones. They are not capable of delivering them yet. Silicon Valley companies who want to install them in their parking lots can't get them. Hyatt, who has agreed to put chargers in several hotels from the Bay Area to Tahoe so Roadster drivers can go there cannot get them.

      Additionally, the Tesla manual... Oh wait, check that, Tesla hasn't actually delivered the manual for the car yet. If you buy the car right now, Tesla says they'll get the service manual to you later. But anyway, Tesla doesn't recommend you charge at the 3.5 hour rate most of the time. I believe the in-car UI tells you that charging at higher rates will degrade your battery pack more quickly.

      Additionally, in the UK (this is Top Gear), they use 220V outlets, many of them at 30A (some at merely 14A IIRC), so you can actually charge the car pretty quickly from a "regular outlet" there... if you can get a charger.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "Yes you are right, Top Gear is now officially an Entertainment programme according to the US State Department."

        Um, noooo.... Officially if anything, according to the US State Department it would be an "entertainment prograM". None of that extra m and e mess. ;)
        • 6 Years Ago
        Yes you are right, Top Gear is now officially an Entertainment programme according to the US State Department.

        I thought that TG's review of the Tesla was actually quite accurate. From what I know about electric cars, they suffer from a similar problem as petrol powered cars. Drive with a lead right foot and the 'fuel' goes quickly.

        I love the Tesla Roadster but I love the FCX Clarity more. Sure, Hydrogen isn't exactly at every street corner but when it is, it will take 2 minutes to recharge your electric car rather than hours.

        Pure EVs always will be niche technology exercises until they solve the slow charging problem. Be it through battery exchanges or using high efficiency solar.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Regardless of some of their factual inaccuracies, the conclusions made at the end of Top Gear's reviews were right on the money.

      Exactly what problems do Tesla Motors intend to solve with this car?

      The dependence on fuels? It's still powered by electricity, most of which is produced by burning coal (unless you are lucky enough to be powered by a dam or geothermal plant).

      Is it supposed to be safer for the environment? Well, it isn't, because it has a thousand pounds worth of lithium ion batteries that will have to be disposed of in a landfill after a few years.

      Cheap to operate? Electrical and transmission issues aside, you'll be replacing the battery pack for the price of a BMW 3-series every few years.

      All this, and if you drive sedately without using the A/C or stereo, you can squeeze out 200 miles..

      Wow. I'm just not impressed..

        • 6 Years Ago
        I haven't watched the clip yet, but I agree on most of your points. That's my main beef with Tesla. What is Tesla trying to solve? Yes, if you take most of the utility out of a car in favor of lightness and pump in another $70,000 of price you can make an EV that has a usable range.

        But how does this relate to making a car most people can actually afford or use? I am not convinced that Tesla's efforts have even moved the needle on this. EVs still cannot compete with ICEs for most people's dollars and aren't even particularly close. The only company that is even proposing workable solutions to this is A Better Place. If you can charge anywhere you park, then anyone who parks their car for a significant amount of time between drives (which is most consumers) can buy a car with 1/5th the amount of batteries in it, bring the price way down and usability way up. Even a Volt with it's poor 40 mile range would be useful as a full EV for many people.

        Environmentally, I think you're off. You can make electricity from clean sources, and many of the people who would use a car like this only buy from clean sources (through special programs that let you select your electric provider). This will raise the demand for clean electricity and thus clean our air over time.

        Also, 1,000lbs of batteries over 7 years is not a huge issue. Cars already are 3,000lbs of materials over 15 years anyway. Lithium ion batteries are recyclable too, although perhaps not to the extent the metals in a car are.
      Carlos
      • 6 Years Ago
      Rarely should Jeremy Clarkson's opinion matter. Tesla should know better.
      • 6 Years Ago
      "This video has been removed by the user."

      Uh oh..
      • 6 Years Ago
      this was posted a day ago on jalop and is essentially the same story. Autoblog why do you make it so hard for me to love you?
        • 6 Years Ago
        maybe so, but AB always seems to be a day behind. I like the site, the writing, and the pictures better than any of the alternatives, but the lag time is annoying.


        Doesn't (and won't) change the fact that I check this site compulsively, but still...
        • 6 Years Ago
        It was posted on AutoblogGreen well before Jalop posted on it.
      • 6 Years Ago
      top gear SUCKS there more full of crap than Car and Driver. Remember they took a toyota truck and tried to destroy it, they let it fall in the ocean, lit it on fire, and a few other things? And some how the truck always worked. BULL CRAP, First of all the frame rusts in half, second ALL toyotas are ugly and suck, third give me one of those piles of crap and we will light it on fire and we will see if it still runs. Top Gear is just another time filling crappy tv show, you would be better off watching Sponge Bob.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Tesla should be thankful that TG gave them a chance of free publicitiy. And besides who'll want to base his decision solely on a review in a TV programme when we're talking about such an expensive car.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Look, we know the advatanges of pure electric. AND we know the disadvantages of batteries. Honda, GM & Ford figured that out 10 years ago.

      It's funny that Telsa complains about the details of their car, when they haven't offered one bit of a solution to solving the real problem facing all EVs: recharging.

      Instead they figured,
      1. let's take a existing car design (hard mechanical work done),
      2. retrofit it with stuff from computers (hard electronic work done).
      3. run it with internet software (hard s/w work done--then also it's buggy like the internet).
      4. and let's charge a high price where only the top 5% of the world can buy it
      5. profit!

      Considering computers are the only thing they know and they thought s/w was the solution to everything [in making cash], they end up with a nice experiment that's marginally better than a 90's Honda Insight or a GM EV1.

      With all that bright brainpower in their company, they should have avoided the glamor of , cough, re-engineering a "cool" car and focused on the real problem, which could have been solved by **adding a quick-removable battery design** and spec-ing out a way for a distribution/refilling station would be built in just swapping batteries--then a "recharge" could be a 3-5min swap--that would make EVs very attractive IMO. Instead they really read too much into the "Crossing the Chasm"--which was so 1990's.
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