When Top Gear Tried its Best to Stop Tesla and Elon Musk

When Top Gear Tried its Best to Stop Tesla and Elon Musk

Tesla took Top Gear to court over this. Top Gear won, but still admitted they did things for dramatic effect, like pushing the car with the "dead battery" when the battery wasn't actually dead.

You have to remember this was from a time when Tesla was still on shaky ground...a bad review from the #1 car show in the world was a big fucking deal.

edit: Tesla "lost" the suit because they couldn't prove that Top Gear lost them sales.

Does Reddit implode now? When Topgear circlejerk and Tesla circlejerk collide with each other?

Do you know this part was a big deal at the time? Starting at 0:29 Musk says they already had in the script that the car would break down.. before it as delivered. If that's true, the cast is in on it then?

"Also when we dropped the car off, one of the guys happened to see a script sitting on the table. he already dropped the car off so hes reading the script, and in the script the car breaks down. wait a second, you wrote the script before we even gave you a car. So theres somethign wrong about that"

[Edit] imo best take away from all this

That's kinda very Jeremy Clarkson, and a kind of thing in automotive journalism - a blind and irrational dedication to the internal combustion engine. Luddites of the worst sort. "I'm not going to have some bloody golf caht on the show!" Was probably said at some point. Never mind that it's a fast car that handles great.

It smacks of oil crisis denialism in the 70s - many car magazines and writers were dead set against the very idea of the oil embargo, mostly because it threatened their hobby. Rather than adopt a new word view, dig into some outright lies.

Edit: none of the above is meant to imply that I don't like jezza or top gear or that I'm not enough of my own Luddite that I refuse to drive a vehicle built after 1995.

That's just scummy. Especially to do it to someone who thinks they're about to get some positive publicity for their product. E: I'm getting a lot of responses saying it's a show and it was for dramatic effect or whatever. My objection is to them staging it in such a way to put the tesla in a negative light without giving it a fair assessment. The car breaking down was scripted and them pushing the (still charged and drive-able) car to a charging station was completely unnecessary. Not to mention it's a new and growing company that's doing something good for environment, and them shitting on it is just gonna scare away investors (but that's besides the point).

"Top Gear" is to professional automotive journalism what the WWE is to professional mixed martial arts fighting. Entertaining as hell, but don't set your watch to it


Top Gear (Clarkson TG) has never been about reviewing cars. It was about entertaining people around the idea of cars

Does this mean he isn't coming on then?

It was still a shitty thing for TG to do. I read about this years ago, but iirc the tesla data logs showed that the car never ran out of charge (the scene with 4 people pushing it was staged) and that a driver did burnouts and donuts to make the motor over heat. And even overheating doesn't immobilize the car, it only limits its speed, so the scene with it turning off and the sound of a engine dying is fake (of course it is... there's no engine in the fucking thing).

Musk also said that the logs from the car said the battery never ran out, so Top Gear was lying about the car running out of power.

If you seriously watch Top Gear for advice on what cars to buy you're either a moron or a billionaire.

Tesla took Top Gear to court and lost. Makes sense that it wouldn't complete its full range if they drive it under track conditions, and if the crew had also driven it previously before filming everything.


Well is a bit of Top gear satire as a consolation.

Edit. Typo

And yet, everyone seems to take Top Gear fairly serious when it comes to their opinion of which vehicles is best or whatnot.

Can you clarify why they lost?

The judge in his summation said that Top Gear was a satirical program that few poeple are likely to take seriously, and thus their brand of contrived comedy was worthy of protection.

That's what it comes down to, the fact they outright lied.

I for one welcome our new imploded overlords

tesla is still a car, top gear is no longer a show

edit: it kind of is still a show, apparently i live under a rock!

Got no problem of the "dramatic effect" driving through Texas Edit: Alabama and almost got killed. Or testing a shitty 3-wheeled car from the 60s. But this sucks.

the battle of the cult followings

Well James, he filed a law suit against us and we won, even when we were in on it, so no.

Hey, they only won, 'Best Factual Programme' 4 different years. Totally shouldn't be taken factually. Where would people get the idea that it's anything other than satire and made up entertainment that isn't real?

something shitty that happened there

you mean the Falklands war.

F1 is great for this. The new hybrid engines produce more per than a V10 but they claim the hybrids are awful and how they are bad for the sport.

Top Gear's anti environmentalism (and pro- fossil fuels) position is easy to discern. It's hypocritical af since some of the best bits of the show are their scenic drives through picturesque landscapes

I've watched a fair bit of TopGear for entertainment, but I didn't realize they just made shit up.

Sure its for entertainment, but I think it is intended to be somewhat informative. Still hurts the shows integrity.

Can you clarify why they lost? Is Tesla wrong about the records or what? His evidence seems substantial unless he just made it up.

It is misdirection. Musk said the car would do 200 miles on a charge, and lots of people tested that and found that under decently strict driving that it would indeed do 200+ miles on a charge. Top gear though wanted to show you how far the car would go at a clip. They weren't wrong, nor did they lie... They just did not give all the facts in a way that an ordinary person would understand. "We worked out that the car would only do 55 Miles", this is not an incorrect statement, but its also not representative, but neither is Musks statement. Both were correct, and both parties omitted facts to push an idea, Musk wanted to sell his cars so he gave them the best figures he could. Top gear wanted to show the absurdity of such claims by demonstrating the opposite, (IE, Telsa drivers were very conservative in their tests, Top gear..not so much). That is more than likely why they won the case.

Edited: 55 MILES, not 55 laps/95 miles

Edit: Thanks for the gold :D

Wow fuck shit yowza he really lays into Hammond. I'm glad you posted this though, it seems to me since I moved to England if you don't like top gear you are wrong. I feel like I'm drinking crazy juice or something.

Have you seen all the episodes where he and the other hosts shit on his Ford GT?

From an engineering perspective they are undoubtedly better. They can be that and bad for the sport at the same time. Formula 1 V12 and V10 engines, even V8's are pure sex. That raw, visceral sensory experience was a vital component of F1 that is now gone.

Ever see what happened in Argentina? That shit was crazy. And not "dramatic effect" Not really that relevant but holy shit that was bonkers.

Probably because the person responsible for dropping a car off probably drives a truck and has the attitude of "they don't pay me enough for this shit" because that's how all OTR drivers are.

Top Gear still exists with Matt Le Blanc as one of the hosts and Clarkson, Hammond and May are still doing the same show albeit under a different name.

As commented below, they were right about the tiny range when using full power, it's just simple physics..petrol has 100X the energy density of lithium batteries. If you gunned a Tesla around with the aircon and lights on it would drastically reduce it's range. Your petrol car does as well but it has so much more energy on board.

Reddit comments are like a constant stream of comebacks you think of while showering.

Yep, I stopped enjoying Top Gear when I found out that they would go as far as to flat out lie for 'entertainment' I wonder what they do about the new Tesla Model S & X. Cause those things are dope.

Top Gear isn't exactly billed as anything remotely like reality TV, it's billed as an automotive review and entertainment show. It's not unreasonable to expect honesty in their reviews and opinions about cars.

BBC calls it "factual". It should be categorized as "entertainment".

To add to this: Any vehicle would experience reduced fuel efficiency under these conditions. To point out the deceased efficiency and to stage a breakdown is completely misleading. How many uniformed viewers walked away from that clip thinking "Tesla isn't being honest about their numbers" and "If I buy a Tesla, I should expect unexpected power loss"?

That's pretty deceptive and cruel. Especially when used against a company that was still trying to establish a foothold in the market.

Sometimes I forget why I scroll this deep into comment threads about shows I don't even watch and then I see this and remember.

Because there's no neutral source of evidence in any of this. Top Gear knew very well the car wouldn't do 200 miles when driven hard, there's nothing wrong with planning for that. The Tesla didn't die, but it went into low power mode or something. Top Gear made that more dramatic by pushing it, ok. No idea about the brakes breaking when it was being charged, did Musk address that?

Top Gear is trying to make entertaining tv. Musk is trying to sell cars. No one here is giving you the unvarnished truth.

And when they specifically shit on its mileage, including Clarkson?

Look at the comments. It's happening now.

Basically Tesla's claim of 200 miles is correct (under optimal conditions) and TG's claim of like 50 miles was correct (under the worst conditions they could manage).


Bit rich of Clarkson to point out the mileage of an electric car, when he owns a Ford GT that manages 75 miles on a full tank (granted it can be fuelled up much quicker):

I've never driven a car in my life, but I watched the show because it's entertaining, especially the specials.

I think that is a lot because of habit and nostalgia. It will die out somewhat when speed and performance become synonymous with smooth and silent for a new generation of car fans.

The hosts had to flee. One had a licensplate that happen to be similar to something shitty that happened there. The cars got attacks by mobs of people. They fled and just left the cars on the side of the road.

And with less than an eighth of the audience size

EDIT: Breakdown of this estimate

There was a moment in the later seasons where they had won an award for best unscripted comedy, to which Jeremy laughed at because there are scripted moments in the show.

| I've never driven a car in my life.

I grew up in rural America, and I couldn't believe how many people I met that didn't have a driver's license when I first moved to a larger city. It took me a while to understand that some people didn't need to drive every day.

It was Alabama, and they had bright pink words painted on their cars: "NASCAR sucks" "Hilary for President" "I'm Gay/Bi" "Country Music stinks"

The first gas station they stopped at the locals threw rocks at their cars, threatening to kill them and the crew.

Why would he give a shit? They hired him to haul the car not act as a PR rep.

This has been an entertaining clash of fanboyism.

Yes, Top Gear was always a scripted show. Still is. You don't just drive cars around a track and hope it adds up to an hour of good TV.

...So why the hell didn't Tesla take the script and NOT do the show if they knew the outcome was going to be negative??

And on that Bombshell, Goodnight

This. To car guys, there is more than simply going fast. It's a full sensory orgy that makes a car "fun".

Edit: Ok Reddit, I get it, there are a lot of Tesla and Elon Musk dick riders in here. I should have said "Many car guys" obviously not all. Only Sith deal in absolutes.

I stand by my opinions though, As much as I give Musk and Tesla props for paving the way, full electric is not as fun, nor is it going to be the favorite amongst auto enthusiasts. Currently I believe HYBRID to be the technologic answer for the larger population, from daily to all out performance.

He (well, the three of them) used to shit on that car relentlessly on Top Gear, though. And he sold it, iirc.

Didn't Top Gear / Clarkson do a follow up to this story, explaining that the infamous 'assistant saw the script when he dropped the car off' story really was the second time that Tesla dropped a car off to the show - the first time it DID break down, and the 'script' was the production notes for cutting the footage together?

Not sure about that, like I wouldn't personally give much of a shit what Top Gear said their miles per gallon was on some car when driving it on their track for example. "Honda says it gets 25mpg but we were only getting 12 while driving it like a fucking racing car on our track"

Isn't there a quote of him saying he won best non scripted reality show while he was writing the script for the next season?

It's a reality show. They're all fake. Why is anyone surprised?

People from Toxeth can't read though

An eighth is plenty to get you and your pals through the evening, hombre.

Ya this is a thing that everyone is ignoring; literally every car reviewer who got the 09 Tesla in for review talked about how the battery life was abysmal if you drove it like a sports car.

The early seasons were actually really good for car reviews.

Purely because they went from being broadcast on arguably the biggest network with the largest outreach in the world to a subscription service.

Tesla ended up releasing all of the logs. They track literally everything in their cars. IIRC the car still had over half a charge, and it stopped working because it was turned off.

You can read all about all the Top Gear lies here


old brits dont give a fuck about the environment

It was the original number plate for the car, and the number plate didn't really even say anything anyway.

The number plate was H982 FKL.. How does that really relate to the Falklands whatsoever?

A fuse broke which in turn reduced the effectiveness of the brakes.

One thing that's often missed out is that Tesla engineers were on site during the review. That's very common for all of Top Gear's car reviews. The Tesla engineers said they wouldn't be allowed to drive the car until the fuse was fixed.

Tesla themselves confirmed the brakes did have an issue.

In the early days, it may have been informative. But in the later seasons and now, in The Grand Tour, I don't believe a word they say.

And the i8 is shit, so that's pretty ironic

I think I'm unbiased as I can be too. I don't own a Tesla and don't watch Top Gear, but I think I'm siding more with Tesla here...

The battery didn't die and the show said implied that it did, which means they intentionally lied misconstrued the real truth of the matter. And if the script Elon talks about is all true, the show had a premeditated plan of shitting on Tesla.

Now I don't think Tesla's advertised numbers about mileage were perfect either, and Elon definitely wants to sell cars, so I'm trying to take that into account. ..

...but damn does Top Gear seem so scummy after this debacle...

Edit: Altered a few words for clarity.

Good thing Connor McGregor wasnt driving it at the time.

Why can't people just take the evidence that they are given and conclude the obvious? Why does everybody have to take it so damn personally? We should be above this sort of thing.

Nah, that Ford Fiesta review taught me if I am being chased through a mall by baddies it's the car to get. That can happen to anyone at any time, totally useful review.

Why is Reddit so eager to jack Elon Musk off?

And the cars they show are never about making the sensible choice. Those cars sell because of emotions and TG advertises them with emotions. I bet a lot of cars are sold because of TG because TG makes them look good and any sports car manufacturer hates if they get a bad segment on TG.

And the smug observers.

It was pretty clear they were lying when they said the brakes broke while the car was charging

Everything you see on television is scripted and fake and meant to manipulate.

reacted accordingly.

Like attacking them is in any way reasonable.

Reddit comments are like a constant stream of comebacks you think of while showering diarrhea.

The argument against the v6 hybrid engines is that they are so incredibly complex that they are (too) expensive to develop and maintain, especially for smaller teams.

He does all the cool shit that we like to think we'd do if we had his money

To be fair, that whole thing was also completely fake. All they had were some fleeting images of some random people also at the gas station - then a bunch of sound effects of rocks hitting cars - then they pretend to be out of breath and pulled over down the road. You'd think with 20 cameras they could grab a single image of the deed being done, but of course it never actually happened - so they could pretend it did with some fake sound effects and jump cuts.

It's a TV show, for entertainment only, not for real reviews of cars or legitimate social commentary.

Generally track driving, obviously heavily dependent on the vehicle and track, will result in 5-10 MPG. It is extremely rare to be higher than that.

My old Mazda Miata track car averaged around 28mpg through the city, but only 6mpg on the track.

Why is that? A person who knows nothing about cars and only casually watches Top Gear would have no reason to believe that they're making shit up. There is nothing during an episode that would indicate that.

Car manufacturers have been bullshitting their MPG since the beginning of time..

I grew in rural America and I couldn't believe how many people I met actually had a driver's license instead of just driving at 13yo.

The sad thing is most people I know who were fans of Top Gear thought it was real and spontaneous. When I told them most of it was scripted and fake they didn't believe. Only when it got really really ridiculous at the end did people start to wake up.

It's way more fake than a reality show. A reality show will rig the guests (let's put religious mom on with atheist jerk), and they will reinact events in a competition without changing the outcome. But there is no literal line by line script nor is there precanned camera angles.

Top Gear will literally stage everything to a script for comedic value. Look, we caught four camera angles of a car falling off a cliff accidentally. It's pure fiction, except for maybe the lap times of celebrities.

I knew a guy who worked for Top Gear magazine (the sister publication related to the show).

According to him when the magazine test drives a car it's for an extended period often over months with one of the staff using the car as a daily driver and reporting on the results as they use the car as if it were their own.

The TV show would often then take these long term test-drives and write a 10-15min 'made-for-tv' script highlighting the positive and negative aspects of the car based on the findings of the magazine test drive. This would more often than not end up being an entirely fictionalized account of the actual long-term test-drive.

...other times the show will engineer situations which will deliberately cause a known issue to occur in order that they can highlight the issue on the show. For example: driving a car with known overheating issues in a manner that will ensure it'll overheat; deliberately getting a wide car stuck down a narrow alleyway; taking a low-slung car to an area with lots of potholes, road humps etc. to highlight the lack of ground clearance; ...and so on.

I'm not trying to say that's what happened with the Tesla, but it's not beyond the realms of possibility that while nothing happened to the TV car used for filming the car they had driven in previous test-drives did show some of the issues depicted in the TV spot.

...Bonus behind the scenes Top gear rocket pics

I'm pretty sure that was just a gag mate.

We also have to remember that reality TV is about as real as The Office.

Tesla themselves confirmed there was a problem with the brakes.

The classic "I was only joking!" shitty defense.

I don't like Top Gear so it is easy for me to judge them for it. But I like The Daily Show, and hate when they do that shit too. Yeah, they're comedy shows, but a lot of people use them for facts as well (foolishly).

"I'm Gay" surely?

But in defense of the locals, they saw that all that was being done by some wealthy out of town people to mock them. They didn't care for it and reacted accordingly.

If Jeremy Clarkson thinks that's all fun and games, let's see how far he gets driving through Toxteth with slogans insulting Liverpool FC. When you go out of your way to intentionally insult people, especially if they are from worse circumstances than your own, you can't really expect that all they will respond with is a sensible chuckle at your cheekiness.


It's wasn't even for entertainment though, it was to further Clarkson's anti electric car agenda.

It's still pretty far to attack people over it though.