An English court has once again told Tesla Motors to take a hike and dismissed the automaker’s latest libel charge against the BBC, producer of the wildly popular (and equally irreverent) program Top Gear.
Tesla Motors sued the BBC in March, arguing Jeremy Clarkson and his Top Gear cohorts defamed the company by claiming the Roadster achieved a paltry 55 miles of range on the show’s test track. That is significantly less than the 200 miles or more Tesla claims for the car.
The program’s March, 2008, review of the car — which Clarkson praised for its acceleration — included a scene in which a crew is seen pushing the Roadster into a hangar for charging.
“Although Tesla say it will do 200 miles we have worked out that on our track it will run out after just 55 miles and if it does run out, it is not a quick job to charge it up again,” Clarkson said in commentary.
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk called Top Gear “completely phony” and his company sued for libel and malicious falsehoods. A judge dismissed the suit in October saying no viewer of the program could have reasonably compared the Roadster’s performance on the track to real-world performance on the street.
Tesla would not be deterred and returned to court with an amended suit.
The same judge, in a ruling handed down Thursday in London, dismissed the claim. He noted that Tesla’s amendment was “not capable of being defamatory at all, or, if it is, it is not capable of being a sufficiently serious defamatory meaning to constitute a real and substantial tort,” according to The Guardian
He added that “as any reasonable motorist knows, a manufacturer’s statement about the range of a motor vehicle is always qualified by a statement as to the driving conditions under which that range may be expected.”
That, by the way, is a point EV advocates often espouse when explaining range.
The BBC was, as you’d expect, pleased by the ruling. We’re still waiting to hear from Tesla, and we fully expect Clarkson to say something snarky in an upcoming episode.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Wired.com