Tesla's libel suit against Top Gear was dealt a crushing blow with London's court ruling that no Top Gear viewer would have reasonably assumed the Tesla Roadster's on-track performance on the show relates to its real-world capabilities.

As you might recall, Top Gear's review of the Roadster concluded by claiming that, "In the real world, it doesn't seem to work" (watch it here). But that's just Top Gear being, well, Top Gear, said Justice Tugendhat:
In my judgment, the words complained of are wholly incapable of conveying any meaning at all to the effect that the claimant misled anyone. This is because the contrast between the style of driving and the nature of the track as compared with the conditions on a public road are so great that no reasonable person could understand that the performance on the track is capable of a direct comparison with a public road.
The ruling was handed down verbally by Justice Tugendhat before lunch on Wednesday. The Tesla versus Top Gear trial will continue as the automaker is suing BBC for five malicious statements made during the Top Gear's 2008 review of the electric Roadster. Tugendhat is expected to return a complete verdict within weeks.


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  • 31 Comments
      Marco Polo
      • 3 Years Ago
      (Sigh) This was a law suit that Tesla was never going to win. Although Elon Musk is a great innovator and businessman in many ways, and while I really admire his dedication and entrepreneurial courage, he (like everyone) has his feet of clay. Elon Musk, lacks a sense of humour and tolerance of those who don't see the world his way. (a bit like some ABG readers) This is not his first lawsuit and won't be his last. Attacking comedians and satirists, is a very dangerous proposition at the best of times, virtually unwinnable. The indignant humourless protagonist always attracts more derision and must lose. Nissan handled TG, better by turning the episode to Nissan advantage by installing a charging post Thus illustrating the need for infrastructure and rendering any further TG complaints, as looking churlish and repetitive. This is not a Tesla lawsuit, but an Elon Musk lawsuit! It was always going to be a loser in the UK, where litigation is less popular as a means of redressing hurt feelings. It must be remembered that Elon Musk is not an entirely altruistic saint, but the head of a nearly $ 3 billion corporation seeking to make a profit.
        Dan Frederiksen
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Marco Polo
        as usual you are quick to defend evil. Elon is far from perfect, he was the bad guy in both the law suits with Fisker and Martin Eberhard. but against Top Gear it's quite clear cut, Top Gear lied about events and put the cars in a misrepresentingly negative light with specific claims that were blatantly untrue. it can only be excused if the premise is that everyone knows that Jeremy Clarkson is a buffoon. everyone should know that but everyone doesn't. I have no love for law suits but I tend to believe Musk when he says that investors asked why the car broke down on Top Gear.
      porosavuporo
      • 3 Years Ago
      This entire thing is about just that : any publicity is good publicity. Musk knows how to stay in the headlines, and the lawsuit has served its purpose.
      PR
      • 3 Years Ago
      "no reasonable person could understand that the performance on the track is capable of a direct comparison with a public road." True, but what about the hordes of UN-reasonable Clarkson leg-humpers? *grin* So now Tesla has a judge that has made a Finding of Fact that indeed, in the Real World, Tesla's DO work. And that no matter what Top Gear says to the contrary , reasonable people all know that Tesla's actually do work in the real world. OK. I can live with that. The next time somebody says a Tesla EV won't work in the real world, I can now tell them that a Judge has already ruled and the issue, and they are wrong.
        JakeY
        • 3 Years Ago
        @PR
        Yes, that's the good thing Tesla gets out from this verdict. Even if they lose the suit as a whole (and can't stop BBC from rerunning that episode).
      EVSUPERHERO
      • 3 Years Ago
      TG is just a high priced prostitute for ratings. Most who watch it, particularly in the US do not know this.
      Aaron Schwarz
      • 3 Years Ago
      To clarify, I was a fan of Top Gear until Top Gear started their Luddite style bashing of technology with inaccurate scripted misinformation designed to trick viewers in question the capability of modern EV's. When Top Gear did this with the Nissan Leaf and the Tesla Roadster, I stopped watching and now believe that Top Gear is yet another mouthpiece of the global oil monopoly, specifically BP, my least favorite oil company!
      amtoro
      • 3 Years Ago
      Top Gear did not do anything different to what they do to almost any other car.... "Oh, the tires of the Mercedes CLS only last 30 miles, you will need a new set every day and therefore the car is rubbish..." etc.... They are an entertainment show, that is it!
      • 3 Years Ago
      Every time that I get angry at an American court decision, I remind myself of how bad English courts are.
      DaveMart
      • 3 Years Ago
      You have to use the right tool for the job. They should have used Hammond, not Clarkson.
      Marco Polo
      • 3 Years Ago
      Grendal, I very much doubt that anyone with $100,000+ to spend on a sports car, is going to rely on TG as an authority! The Judge ruled in accordance with the law, on reading the statement of claim by Tesla, and supporting affidavits, I am surprised that the litigation got this far. The UK is not the USA, publicity seeking frivolous litigation is not encouraged. The courts time is extremely valuable, and this sort of nonsense case delays other more important cases. Cases that only a court can effect redress for the parties. Cases where ordinary citizens lives are affected. Why should other petitioners before the courts suffer delay, and some times irreversible damage, so that a spoilt humourless business tycoon can spit the dummy at a light entertainment TV program? In this case, Tesla has redress through other media (and has) to counteract any effect of TG's opinion. (Exactly as Tysto points out) Elon Musk claim that he suffered investor distress is nonsense, Tesla's investors are not rubes, or small mom and pop investors! Major investment bankers and private equity managers are able to discern the significance of a BBC program like TG.
      Grendal
      • 3 Years Ago
      Marco. Well said. I was only aware of Musk's grievance against Top Gear and hadn't really read through the judges ruling. I'm sure the judge made the right decision and the fact that the BBC admitted the segment was rigged is really the most important outcome. I enjoy Top Gear for the entertainment show it is but find it sad they have chosen to misrepresent electric cars. It's actually just sloppy writing because they realistically could drive an EV until the charge runs out.
      Tysto
      • 3 Years Ago
      The lawsuit made Tesla look petty and humorless. Living well is the best revenge anyway, so Tesla should have instead put out it own video showing the range and recharging capabilities of the Roadster in the *actual* "real world". And it wouldn't have hurt to point out that a comparable gas sports car might get 6 or 8 MPG at track speeds, costing $75 or more to drive the same distance, as opposed to maybe $2 for the Roadster.
      Marco Polo
      • 3 Years Ago
      @DF Like I say, the humourless will always become a favourite target of the satirist, DF is a perfect example ....
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