back to article BBC: Top Gear Tesla didn't run out of juice

The BBC has admitted that the silver Tesla Roadster driven by Jeremy Clarkson on this past weekend's Top Gear didn't run out of juice and didn't need to be pushed home. However, the Corporation said it stood by the results of its test of the 'leccy sports car. A spokeswoman for the popular motoring show confirmed to Register …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Rusty Shackleford say's

    It's a tough call. do I get two thirds of the way to and from work each day for a bargain £100K or ALL the way to work and home again! In a LPG converted car for peanuts in running costs and purchase cost.

    Hmmm side of the road each day calling the AA for a lift home for £100K or.... 'door to door' for several large bucket loads less cash. Thats a tough call.

    I'm going with LPG on this one.

    Call me when your Tesla does 200miles range with headlights on, heated windows, heated seats. air con and stereo on... etc whilst cruising at 70. Other than that please feel free to sell it to townies who probably don't even really need a vehicle.

  2. Richard

    I for one...

    welcome this new breakdown simulation element on Top Gear. Now if only they'd expand that to include Clarkson's gob once in a while.

  3. Dave Ross

    How is this any different?

    I think we all know by now how "Jezza" revews cars (usually by comparing them to a Ferrari), so why is anyone surprised by the Tesla article? Top gear is primarily an entertainment programme not a car review one, and we shouldn't expect ant different.

  4. Louise

    To be fair.....

    To be fair, Jeremy specifically said, whilst walking on an empty track, something along the lines of "I expected the track to be quieter today but not to hear the sound of silence" Intimating they now had no car to drive.

    On the flipside, glass half full and all that. That VT was a marketing teams wet dream.

  5. Ralph B
    Thumb Down

    See you in court

    I've a feeling Top Gear will get their asses sued off by Tesla for this one. It's all very well saying naughty things about truckers, but deliberately misleading the (remotely possible purchasing) public about the performance and reliability of a commercially available product has got to be breaking a few laws. Tesla's reputation and sales figures will have been groundlessly affected.

    And they're American ... so they'll sue.

    (And deserve to win, IMO)

  6. Dave_H

    If only

    If only we could buy decent leccy cars in the UK - by decent I mean able to keep up on A roads (60-70mph) and able to do a reasonable commute (40 mile round trip)!

    Top Gear is a 'lads mag' on the screen anyway, so you should take anything they say or do as a joke anyway!

  7. Michael Smith

    Petrol cars run out of fuel too

    ...but can't be refueled at the next mains socket.

  8. Saucerhead Tharpe

    more accurate headline being

    "BBC, Top Gear and Clarkson caught lying again"

    It's almost hardly news these days. They rig their races in favour of the car and promote Clarkson's agendas, e.g. blaming Ken Livingstone for a Tory Westminster Council policy.

    Clarkson is an oaf, as was demonstrated by the identity theft episode. The guy who compared Top Gear to Last of the Summer Wine was spot on.

    "We have three vehicles today, the Toyota Hipbath, the Alfa-Romeo Jacuzzi and the Vintage Morris Tin, we are at the Holmfirth Circuit, gentlemen, to your baths"

  9. Anonymous Coward


    ...all future reviews of petrol cars will show them being pushed back to the garage to "show what would happen if they ran out of petrol"?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Out of juice...

    They should do that with the Ferraris as well, it'd be interesting to see what a 150k supercar does when it sucks the gunge out of the bottom of the tank with 10,000 revs on...

  11. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects


    This is the second time that Top Gear has got away with doing what the BBC does best:

    Elaborate on the truth somewhat.

    I noticed that other BBC shows that week were not treated so leniently.

    I wonder what else they have done in the name of art. No doubt altered some of the lap times?

  12. Bob Greenwood

    A sprinkle of salt needed on Top Gear track

    I have always taken Top Gear with a slight pinch of salt - the ever so staged confrontations, the staggeringly close results of the cross country ;races; etc, but I guess I had always presumed that the car reviews were honest.

    They were keen to promote hydrogen fuel (a later item in the show) and therefore to give a leccy car a clean sweep would have undermined their hydrogen stance.

    Very large pinches of salt from now on I think

  13. John Bayly
    Thumb Down

    Electric cars always have great acceleration...

    As with the good old milk floats, although their top speed wasn't anything to write home about.

    I also saw an electric Super Seven at the kit car show, very impressive acceleration and top speed, but the duration is crap unless your drive everywhere at 30 (was very strange watching a silent Seven though)

    I imagine it's the same with Tesla's Roadster, it may be able to out-drag an Elise, but can it drive from London to Paris doing 70 all the way on a single tank (I know an Elise can)

    The only reason the things are so fast is that they weigh nothing, if they did fill them with enough batteries to improve their endurance they'd be as much fun to drive as a Lada.

    Great idea, just need a bit more time to mature.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To keep things fair...

    ... will they be showing what happens when a petrol and diesel car looks like when it runs out of fuel ?

    When I saw the program I certainly thought the car had run out of charge.

  15. N1AK

    Pretty weak excuse

    Falsely implying something negative, and then trying to dodge critiscism by saying you were showing what 'might happen'. It's not like they film themselves pouring petrol in the tank at the side of the road for every normal car they test...

  16. Anonymous Coward

    "we fibbed but we're not the least bit sorry"

    seems to be the message from the BBC.

    For some reason, I was reminded of OJ Simpson's book, "If I Did It".

  17. jake Silver badge

    Yeah, but who cares?

    Hotrods move. Fast. I have several. They are fun.

    Hotrods are easily refueled, and can go fast again in a hurry.

    Teslas and other performance electric cars are fast, for a couple minutes.

    Then you wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. And wait ...

    Anyone who can afford a Tesla, and wants that kind of performance, would probably rather spend their money on something that burns gas/petrol ... Maybe a late '60s Ford. Or perhaps a DeTomaso ... But the bottom line is that if you can afford that kind of performance, you can afford to burn ancient tree ferns as fuel.

    Electric cars are for posers. At least for today.

    Tomorrow is another day. Today is not tomorrow. Please face reality.

  18. James Dunmore

    Don't "normal" cars run out of petrol

    Whilst I love the show, if it didn't actually run out, then why push it. Normal sports cars run out of petrol, but they don't push them every week.

    Still, the tesla car is pointless - where does the electricity come from, it isn't greener. The car that May tested at the end - now that's the future

  19. Dazed and Confused

    Running out of Juice

    The kids were watching that episode on TG this morning.

    He didn't actually say it ran out of juice after 55 miles, he said, "We worked out that on our track it would run out of juice after 55 miles"

    As others pointed out in the comments for the other article. They managed to empty petrol tanks on the track that fast too.

    Not many cars get a better review on TG than the Tesla got. Let's face it, after years of refusing to have a Caterham on the track, they pasted that, even though it caned the Bugatti round the track, and caning things round a track is an R500s sole reason for existing.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Future Reviews on TG

    I wonder if this is a new addition to the reviewing of cars, see how easy it is to push the reviewed vehicle if they run out of Gas, Charge, Hydrogen, <insert long list of crap>

    Really I think they wanted to play this as some sort of gag, which obviously isn't all that funny at all, and just shows how badly the show is falling into disrepair.

    Now what WOULD have been funny would have been getting the batteries to blow up, but then again I doubt that they would have allowed to do that.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A title shouldn't be required. Why is it needed? I blame the government...

    So why don't they show all of the cars they test being pushed into a garage, to show what happens when a petrol fuelled car runs out of petrol??

  22. Anonymous John

    what would happen if the Roadster had run out of charge.

    Exactly the same as if an IC car ran out of petrol. I really can't see the point of such a demonstration.

  23. Chris Beauchamp


    Are Tesla claiming that it will _never_ run out of leccie?

    Mines the one with the bottle of Hydrogen in the pocket...

  24. Tim Hughes

    Missing the Point

    I think the reason that everyone has got so heated about this is very little to do with Top Gear's treatment of the Tesla and is almost entirely due to the puff piece about the Honda Clarity FCX in the same episode. The complete imbalance in the treatment and presentation of these two vehicles, both showcasing potentially important technology, is what annoyed, and any claims that liberties can be taken for entertainment purposes doesn't really justify the bias shown.

  25. Paul

    Next supercar review on Top Gear

    Will, I assume,. show the supercar being pushed back to the garage as if it has run out of petrol?!

  26. peter

    Journalists make things up?

    ....and editors 'manipulate' content for maximum impact! Who knew?

    Actually I had hoped that the editors and producers of one of my favourite programmes would have more integrety than to sex thing up, but i guess the disease has spread too far.

  27. Red Bren

    Showing what would happen...

    "the tested Tesla was filmed being pushed into the shed in order to show what would happen if the Roadster had run out of charge."

    Fair enough. I we can expect every Top Gear review from now on to include a demonstration of what whould happen if the vehicle in question runs out of petrol/diesel/methane/hydrogen/plutonium/anti-matter.

    <-- Mine's the high visibility one with the lycra shorts!

  28. Daniel

    This is great logic. We could extend this.

    For instance, they could show us Clarkson being bludgeoned to death in his bed... in order to show us what it would look like if someone was to bludgeon Clarkson to death in his bed.

    They could even show someone from the BBC coming around to my house to refund my license fee, in order to show what that would look like, too! I think we should be shown! After all, I don't want to think my good money is being spent to fund the coke-snorting lifestyles of a bunch of toffy-nosed gits with names like 'Jeremy', 'Tiff' and 'Quentin'.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Excuse my memory..

    but when was the last time they pushed a petrol car into a garage just to show what would happen if you ran out of petrol?

    something is amiss...

  30. Darren Coleman
    Thumb Down


    I like watching Top Gear and particularly like the irreverent mannerisms and attitudes of the presenters, I think they compliment eachother well. That said I think this is perhaps worse than the whole "Lorry drivers murder prostitutes" furore.

    Whilst I don't imagine anyone would necessarily base a purchasing decision entirely on a TG review, stating something which is patently untrue about the car *would* influence peoples perceptions of it negatively. Stating that the car runs out of power before it really does is in my mind as bad as stating that the "brakes stop working after some spirited driving" on any other car they've reviewed.

    I don't really understand why they would "show what happens when the car runs out of fuel" (in this case electricity), I don't buy that at all.

    For shame TG! (I'll be tuning in as per usual though)

  31. Sam C


    From memory, they pretty much stated the Tesla ran out of juice well before it was supposed to. I think there are probably pretty good grounds for a formal complaint.

    Maybe they do that for every car, in which case they need some sort of disclaimer on the show saying something like "All results are for entertainment purposes only, and are purely fictional".

    Not that that would stop the Clarkson fanbois treating everything that comes out of his mouth as the absolute truth.

  32. Martin Lyne

    So.. they need to show us all what happens when a car runs out of petrol when far from a petrol station?

  33. Skip Intro

    Not surprising...

    ...considering it's a program made by and for ignorant Petroltards who think that driving fast is something to be impressed by, and that Speed Cameras are the Government's way of "oppressing" them rather than an attempt to stop them from murdering people with their God-Given right to do 60 in a 30 zone. Cnuts.

    Oh, and a Merry Christmas to all.

  34. jason
    Thumb Down

    But then as they showed later.... was made totally pointless by the Honda Fuel Cell car.

    Thats the one I'd buy. Batteries indeed!

  35. Ricky H


    There had to be "something" wrong with the Tesla, they just couldn't give it 10/10 because in their humble opinion a hydrogen fuel cell is the future. Alternative power trains for transport need good press coverage if they are ever to be taken seriously.

  36. goggyturk
    Thumb Down

    Fair enough, but...

    ...on the other hand, the prejudices of Clarkson and the rest of the Stooges were glaringly obvious over the course of the programme. Like when he pointed out that the power comes from the grid for the motor, while James May's puff piece on hydrogen failed to point out the significantly greater costs of generating that fuel. Not to mention the costs of setting up transport and distribution networks for a highly explosive compressed gas.

    But hey, this is entertainment, not informed journalism.

    Personally speaking, if a practical leccy car comes along, I'd be happy to pay for a charging point outside my house (big cost saver until the government starts to turn the screw), but not everyone has that option.

  37. David Dingwall

    Lies, damn lies, and editing

    "Now we can reveal the answer: according to the Top Gear spokeswoman, the tested Tesla was filmed being pushed into the shed in order to show what would happen if the Roadster had run out of charge."

    Hmmm. Not how it was presented on the programme. From a "crap - no power" cut scene to being pushed into the hanger. There was no attempt to show the power level meter going down, nor any warning lights flashing at JC on the track.

    So now they tell us that point was staged as dramatics? The duration of charging, however, was a fair point

    To be fair on the rest of the segment later tho' the focus was on reliability issues (which we saw/were told about) as the main reason not to buy the car, and it's price.

  38. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Yogi Clarkson Boo Boo?

    And when a petrol head runs out of fuel, does one not have to push it too?.

    If I were to be unkind I could almost think that it seems like the oil lobby is worried and has compromised our Jeremy into peddling misperceptions ... so I won't be thinking that today.

  39. Lee Sexton
    Thumb Down


    Top Gear did make out the cars were very unreliable in the show so maybe they should get their fingers burnt? I was impressed and have been with the Tesla since I first saw it and Top Gear did kind of put me off with the references to the fact it was so unreliable, indeed they jibed about it's unreliability and thats got to be damaging....

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Pretty Much as Expected Then

    However, it still begs the question "do Tesla not understand how television works?" All they seem to have done by complaining is turn what was pretty much good publicity for them into bad publicity. Most people watching concentrated on the impressive performance of the test car, but people hearing Kondrad's rant are now concentrating on the woeful range and disappointing reliability of the car, not to mention the ridiculously long charge time.

    One person I spoke to raised a valid point: "Could the very low range have been caused by the car running an uprated motor?" Something that hadn't occurred to me, but now it's got me thinking. A quick search of internet motoring forums will find several references to the fact that the test car was allegedly running nice sticky Yokohama 48's instead of the horrible low rolling resistance tyres fitted as original equipment. Something that probably wouldn't have got much mileage (sorry) had Konrad not started shouting the odds.

    So most people watching that would have probably taken the item at face value, Konrad's rant has only got people thinking. And what they are thinking is probably quite negative.

    Comparing the performance with an Elise seems somewhat unfair, the Tesla costs about four times the price of the Lotus. Oh and why shouldn't it be faster than a GT3? After all the Tesla costs some ten thousand pounds more than the Porker.

  41. Dennis Walker

    And the difference is ........ ?

    Er.. isn't "pushing it" what you have to do to ANY car that runs out of juice?

  42. Steve Evans

    I hope...

    ... that as "the tested Tesla was filmed being pushed into the shed in order to show what would happen if the Roadster had run out of charge." we can expect Top Gear to be pushing the latest BMW Wanky Truffle Tourer (with optional black everything) into the garage in a future episode to show what would happen when that runs out of petrol?

  43. Sam Tana
    Paris Hilton


    Either the car ran out of charge (as clearly stated in the show) or it didn't. Someone's telling porkies.

    Paris, because she like pork.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    lol @ thrashed

    Errr... yeah, the £90k Tesla against the most basic Elise that costs about £22k. If they'd put it up against an R (instead of the basic S) or an Exige S then it'd of been a different story.

  45. Wize

    In the show, they did say...

    ...'we calculated it would run out after only 55 miles on our track' which implies calculation rather than by actual test.

    And for pushing it back. Well, if it was a petrol car they would stick a bit of fuel in and drive it back. They couldn't drop in a couple of everyreadys and limped that thing home.

  46. Electro Boy

    Me thinks the lady doth protest too much....

    Tesla appear to not be able to take any criticism at all. It's a shame. Nice car, touchy company.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Skip Intro

    Troll. I think you'll find that real petrol-heads (not chavs driving Saxos with bean can exhausts) don't do 60 in a 30 - More often than not, I end up following some "do-gooder" who does 40 in a 60, and pulls in to the middle of the road to stop me getting past - but then pulls away from me through the next village as they continue to do 40 through a 30 zone.

    The problem us petrol-heads have, is inappropriate speed - which the speed cameras do not work for, only real traffic police do. Speed doesn't kill, inappropriate use of speed kills - Like the idiots who do 70mph on the motorway in thick fog - legal, but much more dangerous than someone do 90mph on the motorway on a clear day in light traffic.

  48. bondspice

    oh dear...

    maybe the point being made was you could refuel a petrol car on the track with a jerry can etc.. but you'd need a mahoooosive extension lead to charge a tesla.

  49. Ashley Stevens

    16 hours

    The point seemed pretty clear to me. The Tesla takes 16 hours to recharge from a 13-amp mains socket, whereas a petrol or diesel car takes 2 mins to refuel. Although they didn't mention how long it would take from a 415V 3-phase supply which you can easily have installed (my house as one) which would have been a bit fairer. The FCX Clarity also takes only minutes to refuel - if you can find a station with hydrogen!

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC what would happen if the Roadster had run out of charge.

    "Exactly the same as if an IC car ran out of petrol. I really can't see the point of such a demonstration."

    If you don't see the point then you're not looking very hard.

    The point is that, should your IC car run out of juice all you need is your thumb and your credit card and you're back in business. Should your battery car run out of juice you'll be needing a tow truck.

    What are you going to do when your battery driven car runs out of fuel, thumb a lift to the next filling station and ask them for a very long extension cable? Or do you expect the AA man to come out and use his alternator to recharge your batteries for a few hours.

    The TG crew obviously need to explain things in much shorter words for the likes of you.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Sam Tana

    Were you watching?

    Jezza actually said "We worked out that it would run out of juice on our track after 55 miles." Or words to that effect, can't be bothered to iplayer it right now to find out the exact phrase. At no time did he "clearly state" that the car ran out of juice. Either you weren't watching or your memory ain't what it should be.

    Now then, taking what Tesla said (it never got below 20%) and what Jeremy said (it would take 16 hours to recharge) and I think we can safely say they got it to 20% charge left at 44 miles. How? Well the standard full recharge time from an ordinary domestic 240V socket is 20 hours, less 20% that's 16 hours. So they said it would take 16 hours to recharge, they said they worked out the range was 55 miles. Therefore 20% charge at 44 miles.

  52. Trevor Watt

    If a petrol car runs out

    When a car runs out of petrol you simply get someone with a gallon in a can to come out, put it in and away you go. You don't push it anywhere.

    I suppose with the electric car you could get someone to come out with a Telsa charging station and a generator and wait whilst it then charges up.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Steve Evans (and the rest)

    "I hope that as "the tested Tesla was filmed being pushed into the shed in order to show what would happen if the Roadster had run out of charge." we can expect Top Gear to be pushing the latest BMW Wanky Truffle Tourer (with optional black everything) into the garage in a future episode to show what would happen when that runs out of petrol?"

    So you don't watch the show much then? It's happened before and no doubt it will happen again. I recall, in particular, Jezza's beloved Ford GT running out of juice on the track after only 70mph.

  54. David Webb


    What is the difference between a petrol car running out of fuel, or an electric car running out of fuel?

    The petrol car you can bring the fuel to, the electric car you have to take to the fuel.

    Seriously, you wouldn't need to push the petrol car into a garage to hook it up to get a charge to carry on, you would just call the AA, or walk to the nearest petrol station, and fill it up in seconds, how can people not see what TG was alluding to? You can't walk to the local petrol station and say "Yes, I've run out of electricity, could I please buy some?" you *have* to push the car to an electrical fuel recharge station (plug).

    In that respect it is a very realistic assessment of the main issue with an electrical car, if you run out of power, you're screwed. No matter how you sugar coat it, with a 16 hour recharge time, it would be practically impossible for the AA/RAC to come to your car and recharge it with enough fuel to get home, so the car has to be pushed.

    If a Ferrari ran out of petrol on the track, petrol into a can, can to the car. You don't have to push the Ferrari into a garage to refuel it.

    The Register has some of the most intelligent readers of any website on the planet, so I'm very sure that the penny has now dropped!

    @ the "Tiff" comment - they left the BBC ages ago and are now on Channel 5, swapped with Richard and James.

  55. Sooty

    @ dennis walker

    "Er.. isn't "pushing it" what you have to do to ANY car that runs out of juice?"

    Well... not really!

    If a petrol car runs out of petrol, you may push it to a garage, but most people would probably just walk there, get can of petrol and bring it back to the car, then drive the car to a petrol station.

    The point was that you can't do this with an electric car, without a very long extension cable, and so are forced to push it if you run out.

  56. Ben Park

    The actual wording

    Just found a YouTube clip of the actual TopGear segment.

    Clarkson actually says: "Although Tesla say it will do 200 miles, we WORKED OUT that on our track it would run out after just 55 miles.

    And IF it does run out, its not a quick job to charge it up again."

    Granted if you weren't really paying attention (I wasn't the first time I watched it), that would look like it had ran out. A bit dodgy really, the way they showed it.

    The fact remains though - you can't charge it up at an 'electric station' like you could with petrol/diesel/lpg, and it DOES take 16 hours to charge off a standard plug socket. Unless Shell/Esso are going to provide some sort of high-speed electric charging posts, then batteries in that design are a non starter.

    I like the idea of the hydrogen one, although given how LPG seems to have died on it's arse (not sure why), I can imagine hydrogen taking a long time to become available nationwide, if at all.

  57. Anonymous Coward


    They "test" cars around a RACING CIRCUIT, and compare which one is faster!

    How the frig is that ever comparable to 90% of the motoring we all do anyway? So lighten up with the deep analysis, eh...?!

  58. Nick

    As Robert Llewellyn's character might say...

    ... Engage Smug Mode.

    I for one welcome our fibbing tyre smoking overloads, and if you don't like the programme, they've now invented a wonderful device called a 'remote control'. This little gadget allows you to choose from potentially hundreds of other channels of exhibitionism and showmanship. Or alternatively you could press the red button (no, not that red button, the other one with Power written on it) and go and read a nice wholesome book or even an articulate bipartisan thoughtful news paper such as the Daily Mail.

  59. Jim


    Face it, electric cars have gone from nowhere to nigh-on being catching petrol cars, as the Tesla review showed. Yeah there are drawbacks - prive, range - but we all know that is temporary.

    As for your exige or whatever, forget it. In a drag race, a fettled electric car would thrash anything containg petrol for a whole load of sound engineering reasons. As they say, never race a tram. You'll lose.

  60. Michael B.

    Infinite Range?

    Does it really matter if the car ran out or not. They aren't selling the car with an infinite range so it must run out sometime. There have been plenty of Top Gear segments when the Supercar breaks down or runs out of juice. Anyway the TG team never said that the car did run out of juice anyway they said "We worked out on our track it would run out after just 55 miles" which isn't bad for a track.

    Pushing the car was just a handy visual shortcut to the next scene which was explaining the practical limitations of charging a Tesla when you don't have a 3-phase power supply or a lot of time.

    The whining from the PR lady has pretty much undermined the generally good things they had to say about the car. "Yes is snowing in hell" is a pretty good comment for Jezza.

  61. Mike Dolan

    Umm - with petrol, you bring the fuel to the car


    1) It's an entertainment show. Deal with it.

    2) For all the supposedly intelligent people who work in IT I'm surprised nobody has actually pointed out that they were showing the major difference between bringing fuel to the car as opposed to pushing the car to a fuel source.

    i.e. If it's a petrol car, you can just grab a petrol can from the nearest garage and refill it. Off again in minutes.

    With a leccy techy car you (currently) don't have much choice unless you can find a *really* long lead and wait a number of hours. So generally you end up pushing it to the fuel source and waiting a loooooong time.


  62. Rasczak

    What happens when a petrol car runs out of fuel ?

    To all those, possibly Daily Fail readers, saying that they should show them pushing any petrol/diesel car to show what you have to do if they run out of fuel, to use a motoring analogy, put your brain in gear before you write.

    Yes petrol/diesel cars will run out of fuel and you need to replace that fuel, but with petrol/diesel, you just need to move yourself and a relatively small container of fuel to a place where fuel is available and then back again to get going. The vehicle can stay where it is, no pushing required, I speak as one who is not unknown to run out of fuel.

    And of course most people have experience of what happens when a petrol/diesel carr runs out of fuel, the piece is intended to convey the difference.

    And 'Skip Intro', stop the trolling and come back when you understand the difference between driving too fast and speeding.

  63. TimM


    "Face it, electric cars have gone from nowhere to nigh-on being catching petrol cars, as the Tesla review showed. Yeah there are drawbacks - prive, range - but we all know that is temporary"

    Main thing leccy cars have to get over is the millions (perhaps majority) of people who don't have the luxury of a garage and a handy charging point.

    What about all those people who have to park on the street, or even have garages out in a block away from the electric supply of the house? Can't exactly have cables running out the house and down the street! Those with 2nd cars parked out on the drive even (cable running out the front door?).

    Okay, install charging points on the street, but who's going to pay for that? The council? What about private roads? What about paying for the electricity? How do you stop your neighbour or anyone else nicking your charging point and running up your bill? Or stop vandals shorting the thing out? Solar charging? Forget it, this is Britain.

    etc, etc, etc.

    Flawed technology. Nice idea, but flawed implementation.

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Ok what happens if you run out of juice?

    Providing you don't own a leccy car and you are a member of a breakdown service then they will bring you some juice (at least enough to get you to the nearest garage). So you DON'T necessarily have to push your car (unless it's a leccy car, in which case you're out of luck)....

  65. Peter Kay

    Remember very little of top gear is serious

    If you want a proper car show, watch the shows on other channels.

    If you want to see an entertainment show that happens to feature cars, watch Top Gear. Most of it is staged, and very entertaining it is regardless.

    Given the slating Clarkson gives other cars, it sounds like Tesla actually did reasonably well.

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Sam C

    "From memory, they pretty much stated the Tesla ran out of juice well before it was supposed to. I think there are probably pretty good grounds for a formal complaint."

    In that case you should stop relying on your memory now! He never said anything of the kind.

  67. Watashi

    Danger, high voltage

    If you run out of petrol in a modern car you'll have to pay a couple of hundred quid to your local dealer garage to get the engine re-callibrated.

    However, the point is a fair one - which is why Top Gear showed us a battery powered sports car and a hydrogen fuel cell powered family car. Battery power is fine for sports cars because most of them don't get driven very far in one go and carry a much lighter load. Fuel cells are needed for a family car because of the much higher energy density and the greater ease of re-fuelling.

    All we need is to get some fusion power stations up and running and we can phase out all those 20th Century petrol and deisel cars. Now, where did I leave those dilithium crystals?

  68. David Shepherd

    cars running out of petrol

    TG have done this ... when reviewing the Ford GT JC came to a halt on the track (at least that's what they showed) after running out of petrol ... turned out that he'd only been getting 4mpg. Ford said driven more carefully he should have got at least 12mpg. Also, RH and JM then ridiculed JC as he had a GT on order on basis with his driving style he couldn't drive to the TG set from home without running out of fuel.

    At least this is consistent with the Tesla comments of 200 mile range for normal driving vs the 55 mile TG estimate from track driving.

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Ashley Stevens

    "Although they didn't mention how long it would take from a 415V 3-phase supply which you can easily have installed (my house as one) which would have been a bit fairer."

    Firstly, how easy is it to have 3 phase installed in your home? The way residential power is distributed in this country would mean a considerable amount of civils to get 3 phase into your home. Not an easy job and definitely not cheap.

    Secondly (and more importantly) at the moment Tesla only quote for charging from domestic supplies. The high power "fast" charger (4 hours for a standard charge) runs off 240V single phase at 70A. So three phase wouldn't help you.

    Those who are making assumptions about high current fast charges should pause to consider the technology in use. It's only electricity. The batteries themselves will have a charging current limit before they overheat and die. The internal cabling will have a current limit before it melts. As will the connector. The pins on the connector don't look to me like they would carry much more than 70A anyway. As has been stated before one of the biggest obstacles to fast charging large batteries on electric cars is the weight of a cable that would carry the hundreds of amps required. Quite appart from the limitations of the batteries and available supply you have to consider the strength of your arms.

  70. Aetyr

    BBC also receives complaint over latest episode of "Merlin"...

    ...for implying that things were done using magic without explicitly stating within the episode that it was just special effects and actors faking it.

    Anyone who can afford the cars that Top Gear shows would never rely on a Top Gear "review" for their purchasing decisions. Top Gear know this. Top Gear viewers know this. People who have never watched Top Gear in their life but have read about this in the news, on the other hand...

    By the way, since I haven't explicitly stated it: my opening statement about Merlin was not true. I made it up in the name of humour and to make a point. Apparently a lot of people commenting on this story don't "get" that kind of statement though, so I'd "deserve to be sued" if I didn't clarify that. x'D

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Reasonable Review Actually

    For all the beardie-wierdies getting all hot under the collar about the Tesla, what they did seemed perfectly fair to me. When a petrol car is running out of fuel, you just stop at the nearest petrol station and refuel. If the worst happens and you run out by the side of the road, you call out the AA and they turn up with a can of petrol. If an electric car starts to run out of power, there is nowhere to refuel (at the minute). Even if every petrol station also had an electrical outlet, electric cars don't refuel in 5 minutes like a petrol car does. Pushing it (or getting tows) would likely be a common thing if you owned an electric car. As such, I think Clarkson and co were rather fair in their review, especially considering how well it did around the track. Everyone knows Clarkson is a petrol-head, so for him to give such a positive review to an electric car is a perfect PR day for the Tesla.

  72. WonkoTheSane

    @16 Hours

    "Although they didn't mention how long it would take from a 415V 3-phase supply which you can easily have installed (my house as one) which would have been a bit fairer"

    From what I've read elsewhere, the Tesla's £90K price tag includes one of these.

    (I'm still gonna wait for the currently hypothetical "Tesla F" - fuel-cell based version)

  73. This post has been deleted by its author

  74. Colin Millar

    It may be the time of year....

    ...........but the commentards are particularly humourless today.

    Although I have seen a couple of good jokes such as

    "The only reason the things are so fast is that they weigh nothing"

    Yeah - about the same as a Ferrari Enzo

  75. goggyturk

    @ "All you need to do is get your petrol can..."

    Hum, afraid not. If you run out of fuel in a diesel car, it costs a few hundred quid at the garage to fix it. Diesels now account for about 50% of the cars on the road?

    I belive it's the same for some petrol cars these days too.

    Either way, you'll need a lot more than a thumb and a credit card to get out of that mess. Like a tow truck and a helpful mechanic.

  76. Anonymous Coward

    My 2p's worth.

    1/ TC lied, by implication or in actual words doesn't matter, they deliberately gave a false impression. Tesla are well within their rights to sue them.

    2/ The 16 hours quoted is for a normal 13Amp plug, Tesla supply a fast charge rig that does it in 4 hours (single phase, NOT 3 phase 415volt), so you would only need the 13Amp charge if you were doing a very long journey; and even then, if you were driving to work, perhaps you could arrange to charge your Tesla there, while it is sat doing nothing for 8 hours.

    3/ The Tesla wasn't "running light", how could it?? it weighs more than twice as much as a standard Lotus!!

    4/ All car companies give an (optimistic) idea of the fuel range for their cars, under NORMAL DRIVING CONDITIONS; thrashing it round a track and drag racing are not usually considered to be normal driving!!

    5/ With most car journeys in this country being less than 10 miles, a Tesla can in theory perform an average weeks commute on a single charge, even those idiots living in Birmingham and working in London could still do it in a Tesla (see 2/).

    Mine's Jeremy's, bought at the bankruptcy auction following the High Court action by Tesla.

  77. James Pickett


    "It's an entertainment show"

    It doesn't entertain me. My 10-year old likes it, though.

  78. Saucerhead Tharpe

    Analysis from Kryten

    You might also wish to hear Robert Llewleyn's pith comments on young person's medium Youtube

  79. James Hughes

    Three phase

    All streets have three phase already - houses are usually just fed off one phase of the three at the post. Some houses already have three phase - often if previously installed with Economy 7 or similar because of its high power requriements. All factories already have it.

    Cost to get linked to three phase < £1000 (last quote I had was £600 I think, but supply own distribution board.)

    Price would come down if more people wanted it.

  80. Thomas

    Isn't the whole show based on "this is what would happen, if..."

    i.e. "this is how three presenters might interract spontaneously if they were substantially smarter than they are, and this is how an audience might react to those sort of interactions if they were incredibly dumb"?

  81. Anonymous Coward


    'I speak as one who is not unknown to run out of fuel.'

    Cant you see the gauges or are you just an idiot??

    OK go try running out of petrol in a TDI.. its not quiet as simple as refilling...

    Usually the pump will need to be re-primed which generaly involves a trip under the bonnet (which is a deffinate no go area for most females) and also you run the risk (a very high risk on Modern TDI's!) of a £500 Pump failing which usually costs anothe £500 in labour costs to replace. - but you didn't see that on TG did you?

    Point stands - You run out of fuel your an idiot!

  82. Alan Warder

    For shame TG/BBC!!!

    I'm surprised that lawyers acting for Tesla have not already been in touch with the Producers of Top Gear... The impression given (despite what might have been actually said), was clearly that the Tesla had ceased forward momentum DURING the test. Now we find that that was not the case AT ALL.

    Bearing in mind the recent difficulties the BBC has been experiencing with its accuracy and honesty, I am surprised that something like this was allowed to be screened on such a widely watched program.

    If a picture says a thousand words - then a video (probably) says ten thousand. What was shown and puported to be a representation of the truth, was at best misleading, and at worst - a traversty of the truth.

    Tesla have invested a lot of money in their groundbreaking drivetrain and car... The very least the BBC should have done was to give them a completely honest review.

    Whilst I would not base my buying descision solely on TG - I'm sure that a lot of people watching were put off the idea of buying one by what they saw. Added to which - That report was the sole reason I tuned in to watch that edition of TG....

    Angry of London!!!

  83. Jared Hunt

    Diesels and mechanics

    A lot of modern diesels can bleed themselves. They've been that way for years. No mechanic required.

    As for need a mechanic to re-tune your petrol engine if it runs out of fuel, that's probably true for newer, highly sesitive types but not boggo ones that most of us proles use. Even then the sensitive engines will run in a low power emergency mode that'll let you trundle to a garage under it's own power.

  84. Martin

    ahem; they DID show a petrol car running out of fuel;

    Jezza's very own Ford GT several years ago, a car with similar on-track range to the Tesla (and generally very poor fuel economy, which they mentioned at the time repeatedly).

    If they show all cars which last for less than 80-odd miles before running out of (whatever) fuel as stopping on the track (which is the pattern so far), then that's fair isn't it?

    And to all the people who genuinely believe that running out of fuel in a dead-dinosaur powered car is a serious business requiring £100s worth of mechanic's attention, then I suggest you apply a similar pinch of salt to Kwik-Fit mechanics proclamations as you should to Top Gear.

  85. Dave

    White Van Woman

    About the only thing I've seen on Top Gear worth watching (given that I don't watch much of it) was the put-down of Clarkson: "Ten minutes? I could do that in a van" and the subsequent attempt to prove it. She's much better-looking than he is and she knows how to drive.

    However, Clarkson is good at his job, which is to be gobby and controversial, and isn't afraid to admit he's wrong (bank details, anyone?) when he really screws up.

  86. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I think Top Gear got it about right. A great car but only for as long as the batteries have juice.

    Electric car manufacturers and fans do themselves no favours by quoting silly figures that tests and calculations reveal to be bogus.

    I thought that 55 miles wasn’t bad when driving at high speed. Do the sums..53 kWh and 185 kW max motors.. For Tesla to turn round and say that Top Gear fiddled it and 250 miles is the correct range.. what planet are Tesla living on?? Sounds like the spokeslady from Tesla has believed her own company hype.

  87. Gary

    Charging takes time

    Yes, petrol cars run out of their "power source" just as easily as 'leccy cars. The big difference being, it's only a matter of minutes to fully "recharge" a petrol car vs hours for a 'leccy car. Until electric cars can be fully recharged as quickly (or even nearly as quickly) as petrol cars, they will never really see the light of even moderate production rates.

    Mine's the one with a can of petrol in it.

  88. Paul
    Thumb Down

    bad science for H2

    @James Dunmore

    where does the hydrogen come from then? ok, so you can "make" it from water. but then you can make petrol from carbon and hydrogen (or indeed water and carbon dioxide)! You need energy to get H2, you need energy to convert C + H2 to CxHy.

    H2 is simply an energy carrier!

    Petrol is also an energy carrier, the thing is the energy has already been put there by organic deposition and underground processes yielding crude oil.

  89. Edward Johnson

    Remind you of Dateline/60 Minutes?

    Maybe many people don't remember, but there was an episode of Dateline where they wanted to show a GMC Pickup Truck blowing up - supposedly because of the fuel tank location? So, for their demostration, they placed rockets underneath the pickup truck? How about the 60 Minutes episode where they show a Audi 5000 accelerator pedal going down on it's own - only to have it done by connecting a tank of compressed air to the transmission to get this result. You want more?

    Clarkson has always been the typical boorish British self-smug host, that belittles everything he sees, and makes a fool of himself in the process. He'll provide phony analytical analysis, about performance, handling, or any aspect he wants to, but when the true analysis, done on the very show they're doing, it comes in it usually different than his tale of wonderfulness - or woe. If the foundation of his expertise is British cars, he's standing on solid quick sand.

    Of course, having said that, evaluations of cars is always based on your personal preferences, and many factors. Just because one person expresses their opinion Heidi Klum has large thighs, I'm not sure I'd accept the evaluation of her being an assault upon my eyes. I'm just not sure I'd listen to their evaluations any longer!

  90. Nordrick Framelhammer

    Get a life people...

    A couple of things.

    1. The vehicle appeared to lose power twice while testing. We wewre not told why on the first one but on the second one iot was due to the engine overheating. A bit worrying

    2. Part of the 55k range thing could havce been due to the fact that Tesla couldn't supply a car (a production car no less) with a reliable enough gearbox to allow it to be used in both gear ranges(!)

    3. Nowhere is the show did they say that the pushing scene was related to running out of power.

    4. An electric car that can lose it's brakes while being charged is a real worry.

    5. The thing looked like it handled like a real pig.

    @Nathan Todd.

    1. Most modern diesels are now self bleeding.

    2. Here is a test. Put an petrol/diesel car 3 miles from a petrol station and see how long it takes you to get it going again from running out of fuel. Then put an electric car 3 miles from a power point and see how long it takes you to get going again. Hell, put it on the side of the average country road 200 metres from a house and see how long it takes you to get going again.

    3. Who pays for the power used to charge up cars from a street light. Would you?

    4. Not a bad idea. It would take a van to carry enough batteries to transfer the charge. Unlike a petrol can which can be carried.

    To all the peole that think that range of battery cars is goign to get better, dream on. Battery manufacturers have been trying since the battery was first invented to increase the batteries energy density, which means the amount of power it can produce per kilo of battery weight. Unfortunately the highest density they can come up with suitable for normal conditions are also the most likely to burst into flame (Sony laptop batteries anyone?)

    All in all I thought the report on the Tesla was actually pretty fair. They have been a lot worse on cars without the car makers wetting their knickers and saying they will sue the show. If Tesla want to be taken seriously they will need to grow up and stop their bottom lip quivering every time they don't get a perfect review.

    I must admit it will be funny watching Tesla trying to sue Top Gear. I think that tersla would be in for a nasty shock (pun intended)

  91. Anonymous Coward

    What happens when you run out of 'leccy?

    Actually, electric cars don't suddenly "run out" of charge. They gradually get more sluggish, producing less and less power. Presumably this is a good time to pull over and plug in...

    Lithium batteries do keep pumping out the juice until they're almost dead, but they still get noticeably sluggish when run almost flat. BTW, running them totally flat also greatly reduces their lifespan.

    Mine's the one with the heavy duty extension cord.

  92. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OK go try running out of petrol in a TDI.. 22/12 16:02 GMT

    its not quiet as simple as refilling...

    "Point stands - You run out of fuel your an idiot!"


    how about "Point changes - you put the wrong type of fuel in your car, you're an idiot!" ?

  93. Lyndon Barry

    More plug sockets than petrol stations

    Yes, but if you run out of charge a few streets from your house, what are you going to do? Knock on the door of the nearest house and ask to borrow a plug for 16 hours?

    Vehicles that are powered strictly by electricity held by batteries are not viable right now. Until the charging time is down to a maximum of 10 minutes and filling stations are widely available, it's not going to happen, and this is nearly the same reason that hydrogen is in the same boat.

    Petrol & Diesel are here until someone figures out the distribution of both systems and costs come down dramatically.

    TG exaggerated, but it was still a good point. If the charge drops below the "get you home" level, right now you are screwed. There are no "charging points" that are commercially viable. No business is going to let you use their electricity without either charging you over the odds for the privilge (How much does it cost to charge one overnight? How many "units" at X pence does it cost?)

    Tesla made a great step forward. They silenced the critics who said an electric car would never be as quick as a petrol, but for them to bleat on and threaten legal action because a TV show emphasised a fair & accurate point, they need to pull their head out of their collective arses.

  94. Rasczak
    Paris Hilton

    @ Anonymous Troll Monday 22nd December 2008 16:02 GMT

    Why does running out of fuel automatically make someone an idiot?

    I end up driving quite a few cars, in addition to my own, and the gauge on one may look like quarter full when the tank is just about empty, and another could go to below the red and have over a gallon left. That and you get cars that should have enough fuel in them, however the fuel outlet from the tank is on one side and the car has been parked leaning to the other. If it was parked flat then it would start and get to a petrol station no problem, as it's on its side it needs a gallon to get the level to the outlet and once started you are fine, I had one once that was parked at such an angle that even two gallons wouldn't get it started, that one did need pushed, about 10 yards onto the flat though.

    Yes I have, on occasion, misjudged the amount of miles I could go before needing a fill up, when I can save 10p a litre by filling at the end of the trip rather than at the beginning you tend to aim to put the majority of the fuel in then

    I do usually have no petrol at all in a TDI vehicle, unless I have it in a jerry can taking it to a petrol car.

    Nice bit of self deprecation there though, saying I can have you as my own pet idiot.

    Paris, because that is about the level of intelligence you're showing in your post.

  95. Anonymous Coward

    In summary: Tesla are wrong and TG is right

    Basically, the TG piece was correct in pretty well every detail: the machine was running out of charge early (as stated) and, if it did, then your only options are push or tow (as demonstrated) because you can't refuel by the side of the road, as you can in the vast majority of cars.

    3-phase charging in "only" 4 hours? What a joke.

    Tesla need to go and hide somewhere if this is how they take what was in fact a generally positive review.

  96. David

    Even now Top Gear's myths are taking hold...

    @ Rusty Shackleford

    The Tesla already does 200 miles on a charge, just not when you are caning it around a track with a heavy right foot. See

    @David Dingwall

    The duration of charge wasn't a fair point. Clarkson claimed 16 hours. That is only true *if* you have to charge from a normal 13A socket, but the car can be charged in 3 hours on its home charger and 45 minutes when Tesla release a three-phase charger. OK - so it is not petrol station speeds, but you can at least have lunch while it charges up.

  97. Law
    Thumb Down

    TG are wrong

    If it was dramatic effect, clarkson could have just said in his normal sarcastic voice over "and had we listened to Tesla's figures and ran out of juice, we'd have been doing this: " *cue pushing car footage* ....... instead, he made out like the thing had problem after problem on the track, and they were stuck pushing it in.... topgear dramatic lads-mag jokes are funny most of the time, but most people thought it had left them pushing it into the garage, and without a working car to test... that's not on really... dramatic effect is good, but only when it's obvious!

    Anymore events like this and I'm just going to stop watching it

  98. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Facts are stupid things

    And here a are a few stupid facts:

    "A) Try that argument with most DIESELs. You'll need an AA man with fuel bleed/prime kit."

    An interesting fact, if a little out of date. Not most modern diesels you won't. But the fact remains that petrol and diesel cars generally have a much longer range than battery driven cars and it's much quicker to refuel.

    "B) Electrical sockets are far more common than petrol stations"

    Indeed they are. As a fact on it's own I can't argue with that. It is, however, in the application where that fact becomes a very stupid thing indeed. You try knocking on a random door and asking if you can have 50KWh of electricity and seeing what answer you get.

    "C) Charging times are massively reduced with 3 phase charging."

    Again an interesting "fact", but totally false. Charging times are not reduced by using 3 phase. You can't charge a Tesla from 3 Phase.

    "sockets for which can be fitted for nominal costs."

    A three phase "socket" may command a nominal cost, however the three phase will still need to get from the substation to your house, then you will need a distribution board and of course a three phase meter. I doubt that little lot can be had for nominal cost.

    "There is no reason street lights couldn't be modified to provide charging points."

    There are several reasons. I don't think you'll find lamposts have the supply or the cable to provide the extra current. Then there is the matter of payment, in the utupia you occupy electricy may be a free resource, in the real world it isn't. And speaking of costs, who will foot the bill for the supply and cabling upgrades, chip and pin machines and internet connections?

    "D) Portable charging units could easily be made and stashed in the back of breakdown vans."

    And the mechanic has to sit around for how long waiting for you to get sufficient charge? And what do you suppose his hourly rate would be. Then of course his van has to be recharged.

    No matter how you look at it battery powered cars have got one hell of a long way to go to match the convenience of their IC brethren, and you can't tell people they've got to put up with the inconvenience. Most people would rather pay the premium of fuel taxes for the convenience.

    Then there's the infrastructure. We already have the infrastructure to support our massive fleet of IC vehicles. You may be surprised to learn that, at times, the national grid is close to it's limits. So it's not just a matter of laying some extra cable to support all these battery cars. We would also need to look at increases along the whole supply chain from the powerstations all the way to the point of delivery. It is the manufacturers of the leccy cars that should fund this work, ordinary consumers or tax payers should not be expected to cough up if they have no intention of using a battery vehicle.

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