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For The Record: Tesla’s Comment On The Top Gear Review

Posted in Car Reviews, Car Tech, Electric Cars, Expensive Cars, Fast Cars, New Cars, Newsworthy, Plug-In Vehicles, Popular Cars, Scandal, Tesla by Vito Rispo | December 16th, 2008 | 1 Response |

Yesterday, we posted the video of Top Gear’s Tesla review and wrote a few words on it. Even though Jeremy Clarkson said he now considers himself a “volt head” and was obviously impressed by the Tesla’s performance, it wasn’t all sweetness and roses for the car’s image. Clarkson appeared to flog both of his test cars to death; but according to the Tesla people, that was just some creative embellishment. Tesla spokesperson Rachel Konrad sent us a message with their side of the story.

Contrary to what Clarkson said, and what Top Gear showed (crew members pushing the powerless Tesla into a garage), Konrad says neither car went dead. In fact, she says the lithium-ion batteries never fell below 20 percent charge. “They never had to push a car off the track because of lack of charge or a fault. It’s unclear why they were filmed pushing one into a garage in the video.” As for the “brake failure”, Konrad says that was a blown fuse which was replaced immediately, after which the car up and running fine. “They were never without a car, and the Top Gear testing did not put the Roadster’s reliability or safety in question whatsoever. Again, I can’t speculate as to why the good folks at Top Gear might have mischaracterized the blown fuse as a brake failure.”

Read on for the rest of their comment:

Here’s Rachel Konrad’s complete statement about the Top Gear post:

For the record: Thanks to The Stig’s impressive turn behind the wheel, the Tesla Roadster gets ranked in Top Gear’s performance board just above a Porsche 911 GT3. Jeremy Clarkson, a die-hard “petrol head” with a clear bias against green cars generally, said that it must be “snowing in hell” because he had such a great time driving the Roadster and now considers himself a “volt head” thanks to the Roadster’s amazing performance. This is amazingly high praise from Clarkson, whose entire schtick is to savage even his most beloved petrol-guzzling sports cars.

However, I would like to clarify a couple things. Never at any time did Clarkson or any of the Top Gear drivers run out of charge. In fact, they never got below 20 percent charge in either car; they never had to push a car off the track because of lack of charge or a fault. (It’s unclear why they were filmed pushing one into a garage in the video.)

The “brake failure” Clarkson mentions was solely a blown fuse; a service technician replaced it and the Roadster was back up and running immediately. They were never without a car, and the Top Gear testing did not put the Roadster’s reliability or safety in question whatsoever. Again, I can’t speculate as to why the good folks at Top Gear might have mischaracterized the blown fuse as a brake failure.

I am also unclear as to why Clarkson said it took 16 hours to recharge the Roadster without qualifying that statement at all. The vast majority of people who have taken delivery of their Roadsters (and there are more than 100 of them now) have much faster systems that recharge from dead to full in as little as 3.5 hours. However, I really enjoyed and heartily endorse Clarkson’s suggestion that, if people want to race Roadsters 24-7, they should simply buy two. ;)

If anyone continued watching the show until the end, you no doubt also saw the show’s entertainingly gushing coverage of Honda’s hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle, which — they omitted this part — cannot be purchased at all but rather leased for $600 per month in Southern California to 200 pre-qualified customers in the next three years. Clarkson rips on the Roadster for being three times the price of a Lotus Elise — yet I find it odd that the humble advocate for everyman never even mentions the price of the Clarity, which is about five times the cost of a Roadster, according to industry analysts. (Honda refuses to divulge the price of the Clarity, but its previous FCX, first delivered in 2002, cost about $1 million each to produce, and executives have coyly indicated that the new ones are about half the cost of the old ones.)

Thanks,

Rachel Konrad
Senior Communications Manager
Tesla Motors Inc.

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One Response

  1. jon says:

    I think you should stop bitching and just relize that your car sucked at the time! Long Live Clarkson!