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British Court Tosses Tesla Lawsuit

Further setback for battery-car maker.

by on Mar.11, 2013

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk with a Model S sedan.

It’s been a tough month for Tesla, the California battery-car start-up. While it stood toe-to-toe with the New York Times following a critical review of the Model S sedan, many investors quickly abandoned the company, especially after a worse-than-expected fourth-quarter loss.

Now, the British courts have landed a punch, tossing a lawsuit Tesla had filed against the much-watched BBC TV series Top Gear.  The appeals court found no merit in Tesla’s claim that it had been libeled by the program which showed one of the maker’s Roadsters running out of power during a day of track testing.

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Tesla originally filed the lawsuit in March 2011, alleging Top Gear committed libel and malicious falsehood – and claiming that the snarky segment cost it $171,000 in lost sales.

But the court ruled later that year that, “no reasonable person could understand that the performance on the track is capable of a direct comparison with a public road.”


Top Gear Fires Back at Tesla

BBC program defends itself in libel dispute.

by on Apr.05, 2011

Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk, shown here .with the Tesla Roadster, at the Detroit Auto Show, January 2009

Top Gear officials defend their criticism of the Tesla Roadster - shown here with Tesla founder Elon Musk.

The executive producer of the popular BBC car program, Top Gear, is firing back at Tesla Motors.

Andy Wilman dismissed the California battery car maker’s claims that Top Gear lied about the result of its test drive of the Tesla Roadster, a two-seat sports car that was profiled in a 2008 broadcast.

That program has been targeted by Tesla in a libel suit it has filed against the BBC and Top Gear in the British Courts.  Tesla officials have launched an aggressive campaign to get their side of the story aired, Vice President Ricardo Reyes claiming the Top Gear program’s conclusion was “written before the cars were tested.”

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Tesla leveled a number of charges against Top Gear, accusing it of lying about the need to charge the Roadster after just 55 miles, and for claiming, among other things, that the car’s brakes failed.

Initially, BBC officials declined  to comment, but the flurry of coverage for the Tesla suit led Wilman to go public.