The incident between Clarkson and Top Gear producer Oisin Tymon was initially described as a "fracas," and Clarkson was suspended. But his popularity and widespread support – even British Prime Minister David Cameron weighed in – suggested that the controversial Clarkson might be given yet another chance.
The BBC put this to rest Wednesday when it sacked Clarkson and revealed the findings of its investigation. The report spelled out how Clarkson struck Tymon on the patio of a North Yorkshire (UK) hotel, leaving him with a bloodied, swollen lip. It was severe enough that the producer sought medical treatment. During and after the attack, Clarkson shouted expletives at Tymon and threatened to fire him. The noise carried into the hotel's dining room and even to a bedroom. Local police investigated the incident, but Tymon isn't pressing charges.
The huge audience numbers, Clarkson's popularity and the high-octane excitement of Top Gear all melted away in the eyes of BBC director-general Tony Hall, who saw an attacker and a victim.
"For me a line has been crossed," he said in a statement. "There cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another dictated by either rank, or public relations and commercial considerations."
In that moment, Clarkson was the bad guy, though he was actually the one who reported it to the network and made repeated attempts to apologize to Tymon. He's also urged the media to leave the producer alone. Hall voiced regret in the statement that announced Clarkson's contract would not be renewed, but the BBC decided to move on.
Rumors are swirling about possible replacements for Clarkson. The network says it wants to continue Top Gear in 2016 and is looking to air the rest of this season's episodes. Despite the controversy, the show has a global audience of 350 million viewers and is one of the BBC's most valuable properties. It's unclear what Clarkson's co-hosts, James May and Richard Hammond, will do, as their contracts were also reportedly up to be renewed.
Other News & Notes
2016 Chevrolet Malibu hybrid charges up with Volt technology
Chevrolet is taking some of the learnings and technologies from the 2016 Volt and dropping them into the reborn Malibu hybrid. The new sedan has a two-motor-unit, power electronics and a regenerative braking system borrowed from the Volt. The car also employs a 1.8-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine and an 80-cell, 1.5-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack.
Chevy estimates the sedan can achieve a combined fuel economy rating of more than 45 miles per gallon, though city and highway figures were not disclosed. The Malibu hybrid also has an exhaust gas heat recovery system, which uses exhaust heat to help warm the engine and cabin and aid fuel efficiency. The new generation of the Malibu launches at the end of this year, and the hybrid variant joins in spring 2016.
General Motors to build next-gen Chevy Cruze in Mexico
Meanwhile, in other GM news, the automaker confirmed this week it will build the next-generation of the Chevrolet Cruze in its Ramos Arizpe factory in Mexico. The Cruze will also continue to be assembled in Lordstown, OH. The compact car is currently built in 11 plants around the world, though GM is reducing the number of sites that produce the car. The automaker has also said it will continue to make the Cruze in China with a version specifically designed for the region.
The Ramos Arizpe complex, located in the Mexican state of Coahuila, will receive $350 million in upgrades to handle the Cruze production. A spokesman said the investment is part of GM's plan to spend $5 billion from 2013-2018 to expand its Mexican facilities.
Lincoln Continental concept in the works?
A sharp-eyed tipster sent us a link this week to a site that heralded the return of the Lincoln Continental in concept form. The site, which was part of the Lincoln domain, had no pictures and only offered broad statements like "it represents who we are as a carmaker," and "it's a culmination of learning, engineering and envisioning what's to come." There was also a button where you could sign up for updates on the Continental. Notice this is all in the past tense. The site has since been taken down.