back to article Court rejects Tesla’s latest libel spat with Top Gear

Tesla's on-going libel case with the BBC over a negative portrayal of its Roadster electric sports car on Top Gear suffered another setback when the courts ruled that it could not amend its claim. "We are pleased Mr Justice Tugendhat has ruled in favour of the BBC on both the issues before the court, first in striking out …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    can you say class action ?

    Interestingly, no-one at Tesla has flatly denied that a drained battery will brick the car to the tune of a USD40+ grand replacement. I see a class action law suit in their (very near) future.

    1. Neil 7

      Re: can you say class action ?

      I really can't see Tesla staying in business unless they provide a permanent solution for the battery problem. Who the hell is going to buy a stupidly expensive car that requires it's stupidly expensive battery to be replaced if left in a garage without power for a few months (think - storage).

      Presumably a bricked battery will be covered by the warranty, in which case current owners will be seeking replacements blowing any profit (and then some) that Tesla will have made on the car, and anyone that suffers a bricked battery outside of warranty will surely have a strong legal case for defective design, meaning nothing but long term potential losses.

      I can also see Tesla doing a lot of harm to the electric vehicle movement if they're allowed to get away with a stroke like this - nobody will invest in an electric vehicle if the battery needs to be replaced if it's allowed to go flat. It's such a ridiculous and basic design flaw that I can't see how Tesla can continue building any further cars without rectifying it.

      As for the legal action against the BBC - all they've achieved is to keep the negative Top Gear review of their car in the public eye, and they've done themselves far more harm than good. Now that they've lost the case, they should take it on the chin and move on, just as they should have done in 2008.

      1. Neil 7

        Re: Re: can you say class action ?

        Just read a bit more on this - and it's worse than I imagined:

        a) Battery bricking is not covered by the warranty - lol, presumably Tesla have always been aware of this possibility. Class Action guaranteed!

        b) Tesla reckon it will take 11 weeks for a battery to turn into a brick from 100% charge. Now imagine driving your Tesla (any model, as they all have the same battery flaw, apparently) to the long term car park at an airport with the battery almost flat - when you get back in a couple of weeks, thanks to the parasitic battery consumption of the onboard electronic systems that can't be shut off, yep you've guessed it you'll be getting back to a $40,000 brick. And it won't be covered by your warranty. Class Action? Guaranteed!!

        Tesla will not survive this.

        And if they refuse to fix the bricking problem, so that it simply cannot happen, then they shouldn't be allowed to survive this - it's simply not acceptable by any standard.

        Forget the BBC and the Top Gear shenanigans - who in their right mind will consider buying a Telsa now, when it has such a shonky battery?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Re: Re: can you say class action ?

          You sound like you do cheezy claims-lawyer ads on tv.

          The line about "simply cannot happen" is stupid and denies the fact that it is in the nature of lithium batteries to be useless once emptied and left empty.

          It's rather hard (read: impossible) to engineer any car in such a way that it won't suffer if not cared for. If you buy any new car and never service it you shouldn't be surprised when it eventually breaks down and the dealer laughs in your face.

          And I expect that if you got a battery from e.g. a Nissan electric car and neglected it for months on end, you'd have much the same problem.

          Well done to Tesla for now building in a system to tell them when the car is neglected and the silly irresponsible customer needs a slap to remind them to plug it in.

          1. Adam Nealis
            Thumb Up

            Re: Re: Re: Re: can you say class action ?

            "Well done to Tesla for now building in a system to tell them when the car is neglected and the silly irresponsible customer needs a slap to remind them to plug it in."

            Yeah. Very 'Merikin. Akin to McDonald's having to put "this is hot" warnings on their pop tarts.

          2. heyrick Silver badge

            Re: Re: Re: Re: can you say class action ?

            " If you buy any new car and never service it you shouldn't be surprised when it eventually breaks"

            Something of a fallacious argument. If you buy a new car and do *nothing* with it, it will not break - lots of car collectors store vintage cars, for instance. This is not so in this case where leaving the car 'dormant' (for less than a year!) could rack up a £40K bill...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @ Neil 7: Re: Re: Re: can you say class action ?

          Who in their right mind leaves a $60,000+ car standing at a long term car park at an airport? I wouldn't! If you know you're away for 3+ months, you can surely afford a town car/car service/taxi to take you to the airport and take you home on your return. Leave the car plugged in there.

          Granted, the bricking *is* a problem though, especially because the damn car is so expensive! Those who buy a Tesla would expect superior service alongside the car, and either providing a gadget that extends the life of the battery (think solar-powered portable battery charge that you can possibly plug into the car internally), or providing a house-call service to keep the battery safe when it hits 2% or 3% charge is better than telling your customers "sorry, you bricked the battery, pay up $40,000 or bugger off".

          1. Neil 7

            @SP - re: long term car park/3 months

            It doesn't have to be 3 months - it could be two weeks, maybe even a week for the bricking to occur. The length of time it takes is entirely determined by the amount of charge to start with. 3 months is from 100%. There are reports of parked Roadsters discharging from 100% to 50% in 7 days.

            This bricking problem occurs when you leave the vehicle to discharge to nothing - imagine parking up your Roadster in the airport car park near the end of it's range (maybe 20% remaining, enough to stop by at a friends house for a quick top-up recharge when you get back in 10 days). You go on your trip, come back expecting the car to be in the same state you left it but no - you're looking at the thick end of a $40,000 service bill for something that is neither covered by warranty or your vehicle insurance.

            Or, you put your vehicle in long term storage, and like a good Tesla owner you connect it to the mains. The mains fails (fuse blows, nobody pays the bill, Romanians thieve all the copper), or the cable falls out, maybe a rat chews through it. What happens? You've got a $40,000 repair bill. Maybe the car was flashing "Recharge me" on the dashboard and sounding alarms - all a bit pointless when nobody is there to see/hear.

            The thing to remember is that it doesn't have to be 3 months - it could be a week! And you don't even have to have driven the vehicle - one poor sap had his new Tesla shipped from the US to Japan, found he couldn't charge it in Japan due to the different electrics and before he could juice it up, it bricked. He had to ship it all the way back to the US. IT WAS A BRAND NEW CAR!!!

            These 'lectric motors, they're future? Fark that!! They're simply not fit for purpose if this is what owners can expect from the technology.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Re: can you say class action ?

        Not bricked though

        read and inwardly digest. There will be no class action, even if there is, it will not win

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Re: Re: can you say class action ?

          @nergatron. Read and digested. Now for the analysis. First, the author doesn't own a Tesla roadster and nor does he quote a Tesla rep. This means he's making assumptions based on what he thinks he knows about the construction of the battery pack ( and yes, despite being constructed of thousands of cells, it is still a battery). It is important to note that nowhere in this story, or any other rebuttal for that matter, does anyone dispute that a replacement is necessary and that it's expensive. All this article says is 'well yeah, this is the way lion behaves'. That is an explanation, not a rebuttal. Note that Tesla have not refuted the allegations. in fact, they have tacitly acknowledged a problem with the roadster by changing the parameters and owners guide for the model S. So in short, there would appear to be a case to answer for not informing prospective owners of the nature of this issue. As to whether it reaches a court case, well Musk is a very smart guy so I suspect some agreement will be reached that does not result in a messy public airing of dirty laundry.

      3. Giles Jones Gold badge

        Re: Re: can you say class action ?

        Can you name a battery that doesn't deplete when stood still? a battery uses a chemical reaction which you can't really stop.

        Lithium ion batteries (used in most portable consumer electronics) don't like to be discharged completely. When your phone is complaining about being empty there's actually a fair amount of charge left, they just are protecting you from deep discharge.

        Top Gear don't like electric cars or diesel or anything that's not running on petrol and they do their best to rubbish anything, regardless of its potential.

        1. Rob 44

          Re: Re: Re: can you say class action ?

          Actually you're very wrong.

          Clarkson has nothing but praise for Honda's hydrogen powered car.

        2. BristolBachelor Gold badge

          @David Kelly 2 & Giles Jones

          Lithium Ion cells should not be recharged ever if they drop below 2V per cell (at this voltage the internal copper disolves and will form tiny microwires if you recharge them that could lead to internals shorts and fire later on similar to the laptop videos we have all seen.)

          A Lithium Ion cell charged to 100% will be at about 90% after 1 year, and about 85% after 2 years. After that 2 years, the recoverable capacity might be about 90% (having done nothing else). The cells are normally stored at about 40% because at this level of charge, the cells can still survive storage for a few years but have less capcity loss. Additional circuits may increase the self-discharge, but probably only to 80% after 1 year or 75% after 2 years using a good design and asic. Also this circuitry will almost stop all consuption as the battery gets near flat.

          All of this is for a very good quality manufacturer of cells (made in Japan and used in laptops, power tools and even satellites). Using cheap non-name cells from China will almost certainly get much worse results. I assume that Tesla uses good cells. The last rumour I heard was that they had cells from Panasonic, but nobody was allowed to know.

          However, my understanding of the Tesla battery pack is that it doesn't just have electronics measuring the state of charge, but also has a built-in envornmental heating/cooling system to always keep the battery at a constant temperature. If you live somewhere hot, or cold, then that will always be sucking juice, and a hell lot more than your average laptop battery.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Neil 7

        >Who the hell is going to buy a stupidly expensive car that requires it's stupidly expensive battery to be replaced if left in a garage without power for a few months

        Stupidly rich people

    2. David Kelly 2

      Re: can you say class action ?

      Its akin to suing a cat for having fur.

      It is the nature of lithium batteries to internally self-destruct if allowed to totally discharge. And again, is also the nature of all batteries to self-discharge when not in use.

      The Tesla simply has to be plugged in to the power grid when not in use. They say 11 weeks is the start of the window for trouble. With the addition of ethanol to gasoline, E10 also gets pretty nasty at 11 weeks. So its not all that different from modern gasoline vehicles.

      1. Neil 7

        @Daivd Kelly

        Absolute bollocks - you simply can't compare this $40,000 battery situation with that of a petrol/gasoline vehicle. No way, no how.

        In a few years, these Teslas with their duff batteries will most likely be scrapped rather than kept on the road once they've been bricked - it simply won't be financially feasible to restore them to working order.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Daivd Kelly

          Might not be feasible to restore them to working order with a battery but I bet I could cram a nice little turbocharged boxer engine and running gear in there somewhere :)

          1. Chet Mannly

            Re: Re: @Daivd Kelly

            "I bet I could cram a nice little turbocharged boxer engine and running gear in there somewhere :)"

            A Tesla is essentially a Lotus Elise with an electric engine - so there's definitely room for an Elise engine in there.

            Plus that would cost HEAPS less than $40,000 come battery replacement time.

            Wouldn't that be ironic!

            1. Matthew 3

              Re: Re: Re: @Daivd Kelly

              Even more ironic? The car tax folk at the DVLA would still have it listed as a zero emission (and thus tax free) vehicle...

          2. Jim Mitchell

            Re: Re: @Daivd Kelly

            If that is what you want, buy a used Lotus Elise.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        You misunderstand

        They won't get sued for the bricking per se, it'll be for not adequately warning customers.

      3. TeeCee Gold badge

        Re: Re: can you say class action ?

        "....E10 also gets pretty nasty at 11 weeks."

        Of course if it does get so bad as to be unusable, you can drain the tank and refill it. You'll be out the cost of the fuel that was in there, which will be significantly less than forty grand.

        Apples != Pears. Who knew?

      4. Piro Silver badge

        Re: Re: can you say class action ?

        Woah, woah, OK, yes, the batteries degrade, but comparing it to an ICE car because the fuel goes bad is crazy.

        If you knew a car was sat for ages, you could flush it through and pour some new petrol in.

        Total cost on ICE: next to nothing

        Total cost for a battery replacement: better remortgage your house

      5. mr.K

        Re: Re: can you say class action ?

        You are correct that lithium batteries are not able to cope with being discharged below some threshold. The battery itself however do not necessary self-destruct, but it might have so the control circuits puts it to sleep (coma?). And that is the point really, the circuits should kill the output long before it goes that far. When something cost a year's salary you expect it to have more safeguards in place than a simple laptop battery, not less.

      6. Ilgaz

        They did on purpose?

        Did you see any cell phone brick because of battery? I haven't. Or UPS devices from cheapest to most expensive which uses nickel cadmium? Why? They are wise to put a circuit/ or kernel routine to cut the power once the battery goes below 10%.

        So, no lithium battery goes really empty and dies except an expensive electric car. Does it make sense to you?

      7. ItsNotMe

        Re: Re: can you say class action ?

        "So its not all that different from modern gasoline vehicles." can put a fuel stabilizer in the tank, and it is good for a LONG time. I store two cars for 6+ months at a time with full tanks...and NEVER have a problem firing them up when I choose to do so. Try that with your Tesla.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a giant, giant muppet

    This ex-BBC ( now Daily Mail) Mr Titus is:

    "My favourite thing about owning a Tesla is the opportunity for thought leadership. I’ve never owned a car that inspired people to photograph me with on the street. Women flirt with me at stoplights. Kids chase me and ask if it’s “the electric one that doesn’t need gas” [...] There are significant UK tax benefits, and a host of other government incentives, just for driving a great car!."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What a giant, giant muppet

      Made up quote?

      ." Kids chase me and ask if it’s “the electric one that doesn’t need gas” "

      Really, kids in the UK asking if it doesn't need GAS? GAS? sorry did the kids say GAS? How many UK kids say GAS instead of petrol?

      Talk about a canned bullshit quote.

      BTW stick a 7-style or Cobra style car next to that and see who gets the looks.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Re: What a giant, giant muppet

        "Kids chase me"

        It's THAT slow?!

      2. g e

        Re: Re: What a giant, giant muppet

        May I humbly suggest a matt black Sesto Elemento and forget the EV thing.

        Park it next to pretty much anything other than a 458, aston or veyron and you'll get the all looks...

        Still saving here, might be a while...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Re: Re: What a giant, giant muppet

          Sesto Elemento, mmmmmmm, doughnuts...

    2. peter 45

      What I really want to know

      How much did he (allegedly) pay for his Tesla?

      How much does he charge for each puff piece?

      (Charge..Ha Ha ...See what I did there?)

    3. Anonymous Coward

      I chased him, it was me...

      I was shouting "The electric one that's driven by a huge ASS"

      Sheesh, the standards of journalism today, right down the ruddy pan.

      I'll get my coat. If I can find it - anyone seen my coat? gah.

  3. JeffyPooh

    I'm available as a consultant...

    Here's how you fix the battery brick problem.

    Add a dangerously-powerful primary cell (LiMnO) and some squibs. When the $40k pack reaches the final voltage, then you recharge it (by at least several percent) from the primary cell, and then - after an hour - blow the squibs to isolate it. The residual charge in the primary cell is used to call home.

    Some solar cells on the roof is another approach.

    1. ElNumbre

      Re: I'm available as a consultant...

      Solar probably not much use if the car is parked in a garage.

      Or if you're American, a garargee.

      So far, so good on fulfilling the role of a consultant then. We expect your invoice shortly.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm available as a consultant...

      Another possibility is having 12v of another voltage source to keep a small amount of current flowing once the batteries drop down below a certain level. A pile of C cells would do this nicely.

      Of course, its just extending the inevitable, but its an improvement.

      Solar panels? there is nothing to prevent you putting them on the roof of the garage. they dont have to be huge, just enough to stop the battery going totally flat. Or, and heres a thaught, if you leave it in your garage at home, you could just, yknow, leave it plugged in.

      If i was off for 11 weeks, i certainly wouldnt put my car in an airport car park. Thats what Taxi's are for. You would have to remorgage your house twice, once for the new battery pack and again for the Parking costs.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trolling for money

    Tesla knows full well that the Top Gear story was not actionable, but they need money so they tried a Hail Mary.

  5. Joe User

    Oh yes, that's the car for me!

    When the "tank runs dry", you can't fill it up again; you have to buy a new tank. Whose brilliant f-ing idea was that? What a ridiculous, over-priced, piece of shite!

    My apologies to any pieces of shite who were offended by this comparison.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Oh yes, that's the car for me!

      Whose brilliant idea? Any sports/hot-hatch car manufacturer.

      Go to your closest Halfords, pick a copy of Renault Clio 1989-1998 maintenance manual off the shelf, read section on fuel tank for the 1.8L (IMO it is the "suicidal" version of that rather fine vehicle). Once done, put it back on the shelf and start picking up any the manuals for any other car which has a "hot" or "sport" spec and read the difference for the fuel tank for those.

      You will find that that the 1.8L Clio is not alone and most of these has an _ADDITIONAL_ "safety" fuel tank (5L in the case of the Clio 1.8) to ensure that the injector, pump, etc never run off dry and the ECU never has to try to run the system with bubbles in the fuel line. There is an important caveat regarding this extra tank. If you run dry your main tank you can just refill it. If you run dry the extra fuel tank your only option is "to the garage you go". While the type of system will inadvertently vary from a vehicle to vehicle, overall - if you run a sports car tank dry you are nearly always guaranteed to be spending some time in the garage.

      That is true even for non-sports cars. I managed to choke my "agricultural utility vehicle" (Isuzu Rodeo Denver 4x4) this summer offroad and it got a bubble in the fuel line. It was lighting up that the "take me to the garage" Christmas tree on the dashboard for the next 6 hours. While it managed to sort itself out quite a few vehicles will not. Your average Ford Escort will remain in "engine safety mode" with the ECU light lit once it runs dry or has a bubble until you service it. And so on.

      So while Tesla's design and stance on it warranty may seem stupid they are not entirely out of line with their petrol bretheren. A modern car which has been run completely dry in most cases will be a garage job. In any case, it is clear that the Tesla needs a trickle charge solar on the bonnet,roof and spoilers. They are being bloody stupid not to do it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Re: Oh yes, that's the car for me!

        Wow, so if I run a Ford Escort petrol tank dry and have to take it to the dealer to have the fuel system bled it'll cost me $40,000?

        Your average modern road car will not stay in limp home mode for more than a few engine starts unless the fuel pressure sensor detects a problem that isn't going away, even if the problem doesn't go away it will still allow you to drive it to the dealership and if you're really picky about driving it with an amber light on (amber means 'take me to the garage', red means 'stop driving me now') then most if not all roadside assistance companies will bleed the fuel system and reset the ECU at the roadside if you have the required level of cover. Even if you don't have roadside cover it's not going to cost more than a couple of hundred quid to get it towed and fixed so it's hardly comparable to a $40K brick.

      2. John Arthur

        Re: Re: Oh yes, that's the car for me!

        Can you tell me where this extra 5 litre tank is? How is the switchover performed when the main tank runs dry? How do I know that I am running on the secondary tank and not the main one?

        Perhaps you mean that most, if not all, tanks have a safety margin of about 5 litres when the fuel guage or trip computer tells you that it is empty. This has been standard practice since long before fuel injection. With fuel injection the system is normally self-purging of bubbles otherwise cars parked after a long run in the Texas sun would never get started again for fuel vapour blocking the lines under the bonnet. As for the idiot light, it depends on whether that is self-resetting or not.

        1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: Re: Re: Oh yes, that's the car for me!

          Answering both you and the other poster.

          1. The tank is inline. It is not switchover, it is an extra 5l if you run dry your normal fuel tank and I suspect the idea was to introduce a hard shut-off off the fuel sensor. That was not done, but the extra 5l stayed and you cannot refill it if runs dry. You have to do some magic to it. Statement of the fact - just pick up the Haines for it and look yourself :)

          2. As far as damage to the car one of my ex colleagues damaged his Punto to a total bill of 1000£ for a replacement ECU and other repairs a few years back by running it repeatedly on "yellow fuel light" and having the engine run with bubbles in the fuel line. If you can damage a 8k vehicle for 1k this way damaging a 80K vehicle to 20-40k does not particularly surprise me.

          1. Funkster

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Oh yes, that's the car for me!

            In which case they saw your ex-colleague coming. Replacement ECU? Just exactly how did that get damaged by a bit of air in the fuel line?

            Petrol sports cars are more likely to have a dedicated swirl pot to help get bubbles out before they get to the fuel rail, but they will generally purge themselves. Returnless fuel rails are tricky, the only way out for the air is through the injectors... but you can always bleed the air off by removing a pipe.

            Diesels and direct-injection petrol engines are a completely different matter (high-pressure fuel pumps lubricated by fuel, get damaged if no fuel present) but that's not what you're talking about here with your clio.

            C- must do better.

          2. Alex Rose

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Oh yes, that's the car for me!

            I went to Halfords and couldn't find these "Haines" manuals of which you speak.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              @Alex Rose

              Haines manuals have gone seriously downhill. I rebuilt an Orion engine using one (not literally, got to be carefull with the thickoes) about twenty years ago. A recent manual for a Scenic was useless. Can't rememebr what I wanted to do but this time I did use the manual literally, to rest my tea on.

              1. Anonymous Coward

                Re: @Alex Rose


                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward


                  Yes, they are Haynesmanuals. However, I wasn't commenting on the spelling.

          3. phil 27

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Oh yes, that's the car for me!

            Its a surge tank to prevent fuel surge on hard cornering stopping the fuel pump sucking air mid g forces, not a emergency measure. It has 5l of fuel in it to de-aeriate it also.

            When the fuel in the tank has run out, you have effectively ran it dry, regardless of what residual fuel is left in the system. And shock horror, running it dry means you have to bleed the air out of it, just like lots of things both petrol and diesel since gas (as in gaseous, not fuel) doesnt pump very well.

            Stick to IT. Or maybe your mcse...

      3. Colin Millar

        Re: Re: Oh yes, that's the car for me!

        Modern cars are much more forgiving of running dry - high end sports cars may be a bit touchy but that's what you pay the extra for. I don't know where all this "bubble in the fuel line" stuff comes from but it certainly wouldn't put a car in the garage. The problem you appear to be describing is the ECU reset cost - there is no reason why the ECU cannot be reset - its just that the manufacturers like to build in that extra cost for no good reason. The not run dry scare appears to hark back to the old days of silt in the bottom of the tank.

        As for Renault - they are famous for inventing "take me back to the dealer" scenarios - like headlight bulbs that need a ramp for changing.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Re: Oh yes, that's the car for me!

        >Go to your closest Halfords, pick a copy of Renault Clio 1989-1998 maintenance manual off the shelf

        ...... it would be bad enough if someone I knew saw me going into Halfords.

  6. JC 2


    Tesla needs to have a going out of business sale.

  7. Raphael

    I think Top Gear's point was not so much the 55 miles they calculated it would do ("we _worked_ out that on our track it would run out after just 55 miles") because actually that's fairly comparable to other sportscars they tested at race speeds do on their track. It's the 17 hours for a recharge vs the 10 minutes for a refuel.

    And the fact that a blown fuse means you have no breaks is frankly scary and I hope Tesla has implemented a failsafe for that.

    1. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

      Blowing of a fuse leading to no breaks is exactly what you want. A blown fuse leading to no brakes otoh....

      Speaking of which do these things do energy recovery?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I seem to remember most if not all of the 'leccy cars do energy recovery of some sort under braking, it'd be missing a very obvious trick if they didn't really (think most of them call it regenerative braking)

    2. gort

      A blown fuse on the Roadster doesn't mean no brakes, just that you have to press the pedal down harder than normal because you only have disc brakes without any assist from the regen braking, much like a petrol car when the engine fails and the brake vacuum assist stops.

      1. gort

        In fact reading a Top Gear producer's highly disingenuous explanation of their biased and faked broadcast, what actually happened was a fuse to the vacuum assist pump for the disc brakes blew, the same sort of fault as you would get in a conventional engined car with a leaky brake assist hose.

        So there was no total loss of braking, but just about everyone who saw the report would tell you that there was, just as they would say that the Roadster ran out of power and had to be pushed into the garage, where it would have taken 17 hours to charge up (actual charge time with a proper charger: 4 hours).

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          A "proper" charger?

          Top Gear were very specific about the charging times - if you use a standard UK 13A socket (~3000VA), it'll take 17 hours.

          The "4-hour" charger is a 240VAC, 70A connector and apparently needs a 90A supply breaker so probably draws that on the supply side (at least sometimes).

          My house service fuse (like most UK houses) is 100A. Thus charging this vehicle using the 4-hour charger requires 70 to 90% of my entire household electricity supply - leaving me a grand total of 10A to (maybe) 30A to run my entire house.

          Thus if you turn on the kettle, or (god forbid!) while charging - pop! You're in the dark. Computer, TV and lighting? Forget it! And don't even consider an electric oven, hob or shower!

          If you're unlucky then you'll blow the service fuse - which then requires an electrician callout to replace.

          In other words, the 4-hour charger actually requires its own dedicated supply to be installed from the local substation. In the UK this can only be installed by the electrical supply company - in the US this varies from place to place.

          The 6-hour charger needs a 50A circuit, so is plausible assuming you only have one of electric hob, oven or shower and not too many gadgets around the house.

    3. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      55 miles on the test track

      I thought that wasn't bad, considering most super/hyper cars can easily average 3mpg compared to 20mpg if not ragged by Mr Clarkson.

      Didn't see anything bad about the actual review as I was under the impression they were a lot worse than what they portrayed (i.e acceleration handling and most importantly the fun factor etc...)

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. MMcA

    Tesla is the future, old people....

    Elon Musk has made the first decent electric sports car. Credit where it's due.

    Besides, inefficient reciprocating lumps of metal, explosive fuel and all those extra moving parts (gearboxes - how quaint) are so last Century. May as well keep making better horse whips.

    1. Da Weezil

      Re: Tesla is the future, old people....

      A sports car that dies prematurely for lack of motive power if driven "sportily"

      Epic Fail.

      Its a posing pouch, nothing more...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Re: Tesla is the future, old people....

        as are all sports cars, this is one for those with more money than common sense (but I'd have one tomorrow!)

      2. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: Re: Tesla is the future, old people....

        @Da Weezil: As opposed to the GT40 which Jeremy RAN OUT OF MONEY to fill up in ?France? on their super car test^H^H^H^Hjolly.

        Yes battery technology, or more specifically charging technology, is improving rapidly - but how often do you actually drive more than 200 miles in a day?

        I can't remember the last time I did.

        1. Dr Insanity

          Re: Re: Re: Tesla is the future, old people....

          Most of the miles clocked up on a regular basis in this country is probably down to various Sales Reps for whomever, and Long distance lorry drivers.

          I know our Reps can comfortably clock up 200-300 miles per day when they're on the road. For long distance lorry drivers, the clue is in the name!

          For electric cars to really take off, they need to have a place in the company fleet. That's when big businesses will invest in the infrastructure, and in 3 years time when they're all up for renewal, that's when there will be a flood of electric cars on the 2nd hand market.

          Some minicab firms and local couriers are starting to introduce alternative fuels, but they tend to be short range city driving. We need to hit the nationwide oil burners.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. micheal

          Re: Re: Re: Tesla is the future, old people....

          Almost everyone that lives or works in London and lives / works outside the M25

          Not just the mileage, it's the use of ancilliaries whilst standing that drains the battery too (lights, wipers, satnav etc

        3. CD001

          how often do you actually drive more than 200 miles in a day

          At least once a year, at Christmas, to visit the reles up north (more often if there's a significant birthday, marriage, funeral or whatever) - 230 miles give or take; takes about 4 hours. In an efficient, fairly modern, small petrol car that's a bit over half a tank... granted you'd not get that from a petrol-powered Lotus Elise but you could refill that at any motorway service station in a matter of minutes.

          Plus the odd trip to Scotland now and again.

          200+ miles in a day is not really a stretch tbh - unless you need to spend 8 hours recharging the battery, necessitating an overnight stop at some shonky motel somewhere on the M1, then it would be.

          I'd argue that battery-tech is NOT the future; it's a stop-gap at best... while the car itself may be "greener" - you've still got the wonders of chlorine polluted water-systems where the lithium has been strip-mined, air pollution from the ageing fossil fuelled power stations (unless you go nuclear of course but that still leaves you with a disposal issue of depleted rods) and landfill full of dead li-ion batteries. Battery cars are basically NIMBY-tech ... they shift the pollution into someone else's back yard, they don't solve the problems (unless your problem is not making enough money from your holdings in lithium mining, battery companies or Tesla of course).

        4. fishman

          Re: Re: Re: Tesla is the future, old people....

          "but how often do you actually drive more than 200 miles in a day?"

          Of course, 200 miles is when the batteries are new, and it's not wintertime. I wouldn't be surprised if after 4-5 years and in cold weather it would be more like 100 miles.

          And I drive 700 miles in a day at least once a month. 4-5 times a month I'll drive well over 100 miles.

        5. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Re: Re: Tesla is the future, old people....

          Unfortunately John, my weekend work requires me to drive between 100 and 300 miles *ONE WAY*. But then again, that said, I wouldn't use a Tesla for that work, although that would raise some appreciative eyebrows. I just won't sell my soul, a kidney, an eye, and part of my liver for one.


        6. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          200 miles per day

          I used to commute 96 miles each way daily for over three years. It's not that unusual. I currently have a 'short' commute of about 45 miles each way. And when was the last time that you left on a journey without any means of refuelling with less that a 25% margin or error? Who knows when you will get stuck in traffic/diverted? I certainly would not want to do more than a 150 mile journey in a car with a maximum range of 200.

          Also, 200 is when it is new. How will it work after a years worth of daily recharging?

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

        7. Rune Moberg

          Re: Re: Re: Tesla is the future, old people....


          Most weeks I drive 720 km+ split over two days. Avg speed about 100 kph. (takes me 3:40 to cover 360 km, including a bit of traffic at the very end)

          On the positive side of things: My car runs on E85 (Ethanol) which is the most environmentally friendly fuel known to man. It literally grows on trees, soaking up the sun's rays along the way.

    2. jason 7

      Re: Tesla is the future, old people....

      This expensive fragile toy isn't the future.

      Cheap, no frills 1000cc 4 seater commuter cars with high efficiency twin turbos are the future for most of us.

    3. PatientOne

      Re: Tesla is the future, old people....

      I know of two companies with Electric cars in their fleet.

      In both cases, the electric car was brought in as a 'green' option. In both case, there have been problems.

      In one company: 3 electric cars, 1 back and forth to the dealer as it keeps developing faults, the other 2 are run alternately - 1 on charge/maintenance, 1 on the road. Current view: Nice idea but bloody expensive.

      In the other company, they were building a small fleet of electric cars. They had a dozen in at the time with another dozen on order. They had 2 that were proving faulty - not holding a charge, the rest seemed okay, but they were setting up a separate garage for them for charging. Of the others, they were, again, running half the cars while the rest were charging or undergoing maintenance. Again, it was a lovely idea but bloody expensive.

      Electric cars are a nice idea. I've looked at them when considering my last car purchase. Unfortunately they are rather expensive for what you get. Worse than hybrids, and they priced themselves out of my budget.

      Petrol might be quaint, inefficient and so last century, but electric isn't ready and while Hybrids are better, they're still too expensive.

  9. Epobirs

    The sad thing is that, watching the Top Gear episode, they really wanted it to succeed. They were very positive until until became an exercise in frustration.

    1. Miffo


      Well that's how they told the story. They're not exactly known for embracing electric cars so it's a bit odd that they started out so positive - unless they were trying to make a good story? And that's what Top Gear's about - a good story and people should be happy with that. Blame the stupid investors for taking Top Gear's information as factual! :-)

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It gets worse for Tesla

    Now they're (possibly) leaking confidential information about owners that complain of bricked batteries:

    And it's hard to imagine the lamentable "warnings" from Tesla regarding the $40,000 consequences of allowing the battery to deplete will stand up in a court of law having read the following:

  12. jake Silver badge

    Real World example.

    See my post from October 21st, 2011.

    These things just aren't sports cars. They are garage queens, owed by people with more money than brains. Including my friend (although he's managed to shift his disappointing purchase on to another idiot ... without losing any money!).

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Some companies are stupid...

    Its the one thing companies usually never think about when they lend a product to a reviewer: what if the reviewer doesn't end up with a positive but a negative opinion on the product ?

    I've seen this happening myself one time.. I'm not a professional reviewer, but I do like to write (PS3) game reviews every now and then which usually received quite some positive feedback. However; I've always been positive /and/ negative alike. Some Sony employee's have approached me in the past asking if I could review a certain game (low to midrange). Which by itself is cool, sure, but I still let them know that I could not guarantee that my review would be a positive one. That's not how I work, I write what I see and I'm not the kind of guy who will make things nicer than they are (or what I think it to be).

    Unsurprisingly enough the request was cancelled ;-)

    But honestly I think that's the main problem; some companies are all too happy to lend their products to reviewers and have it turn up on TV but will hardly - ever - think about the consequences..

    And others like Tesla seem too stupid to realize that their lawsuits are WAY more damaging than the Top Gear episode itself. When I saw it for the first time I have to admit that my first reaction was "Whoah!?" because usually the crew isn't that critical. But then I also quickly learned that T.G. is critical by default when it comes to "environmental stuff".

    Something Tesla could have known up front as well... Every time the lawsuit comes into the news I'm sure there will be more people going to look for this episode (easily found on the Top Gear website!) and will make others like me clearly remember the negative comments regarding the Roadster again.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You can convert your own car, but the cost of parts are also very high until they get mass produced. It's hardly a rip off.

    The interest in Telsa is due to the fact they make a nice looking sportscar. Nobody seems to give a monkeys about the uglier reliable cars. Once battery technology improves, it will be a no brainer versus the 30% efficeint internal combustion engine.

    1. saturnuranus

      Whilst it's a nice looking motor, I can't ever help but feel Tesla are/were barking up the wrong tree with the Roadster. As something of a car nut with a daily banger and a weekend toy, I almost feel part of Tesla's target market, yet the problem for me at least, is they've got it arse about face. I would never in a million years choose a Tesla Roadster, or indeed any electric car over a 911 as a 2nd, fun car. The Porsche is engaging, dramatic, lairy and downright fun, in a way that a fully electric car will never be. Ever.

      What I want, is a car that can manage 100 miles, has a reasonable turn of pace, a 100mph top speed and a £15K price tag, so that I can commute to work and back each day. Someone, anyone, go!

    2. DrXym

      All electric has a long way to go

      Problem for electric vehicles are the batteries you need for the range are expensive, heavy and take too long to charge. I really don't see much chance of an EV taking off until at least 1 or 2 of those things change.

      However there is certainly scope for hybrid vehicles. A hybrid could make do with a 30 mile battery range and flip over to a petrol engine. Or even a micro turbine. Turbines are especially promising IMO since you get the range, the reduced weight, more fuel effiency vs petrol and potentially a simpler power train too. Problem is they're still in the experimental / prototype phase.

      1. micheal

        Re: All electric has a long way to go

        As I said in a post a while back, trains that generate their own electric when overhead power isnt available have been about for years.

        Why not the same with cars?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Re: All electric has a long way to go

          As long as you want a car that weighs as much as a Deltic then you're good to go.

          Seriously though, what do you think a hybrid does?

          1. Alex Rose

            Re: Re: Re: All electric has a long way to go

            A hybrid has both electric and petrol power delivered directly to the wheels. A diesel-electric train uses a diesel engine to generate electricity, the wheels are driven by this electricity, there is no mechanical link between the diesel engine and the wheels.

            This is the main difference between hybrids like the Prius and diesel-electric vehicles.

            Look up the Fisker Karma for a car that uses an internal combustion engine to produce electricity for the drivetrain rather than using a mechanical link.

    3. jake Silver badge

      "The interest in Telsa is due to the fact they make a nice looking sportscar."

      Uh ... That's a Lotus, if you're only interested in the looks.

      "Once battery technology improves"

      It will not. Chemistry & Physics say "we seriously doubt it, nutter".

      HTH, HAND.

    4. Jim 59


      Agree. However the power is eventually generated, a sorted electric car would torch combustion models. An electric motor is small and produces huge natural torque for its size. Never race a tram.

  16. Scorchio!!

    Didn't Myra J Pasek write someone in El Reg an angry email? Perhaps my file system isn't working properly, but I'm sure that is what I remember.

  17. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    A valid question which is currently still unanswered .... apparently.

    Is it libellous to ask if Tesla is fronting and front running a sour lemon? ........

    Another great white dope hope bites the fairy pixie dust?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A valid question which is currently still unanswered .... apparently.

      I'm pretty sure they're not using sour lemons, they use LiIon batteries but at least if sour lemons were fully discharged you could nip to the nearest Tesco and buy a few to replace them.

      1. Scorchio!!

        Re: Re: A valid question which is currently still unanswered .... apparently.

        Or, in the case of Tesla, sour grapes. The phrase 'face like a pit bull sucking on a wasp' springs to mind.

        1. Andy ORourke

          Re: Re: Re: A valid question which is currently still unanswered .... apparently.

          Or if you're from Oop North like me the phrase Like a bulldog licking piss off a thistle :-)

  18. Allan George Dyer

    I don't get it...

    Why were Tesla suing a remake of "Last of the Summer Wine" sitcom?

    It's the same scripts... three idiots (the bombastic one, the thinker and the short one) doing crazy things, usually involving fanciful constructions that fall apart. Hugely entertaining, but surely no-one could mistake it for a factual documentary.

  19. M Gale

    I'm just curious.

    Hobby level lipo cells have a tendency to expand alarmingly if you let them go completely flat then try to charge them. Bearing in mind how many cells are sandwiched into an e-car battery, how much of the $40,000 is jigging the car back into shape?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm just curious.

      18650 laptop cells tend not to do that and if the charge controller won't allow you to charge them anyway....

    2. Scorchio!!

      Re: I'm just curious.

      That's not a 'chubby that you're talking about then...

  20. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    I guess Tesla are operating on the US damage control model.

    IE come out fighting.

    As such what would have been a *non* story ( for something produced for the immensely wealthy muesli eating tree hugging set who want to be seen to *care* about the environment it is actually *quite* nice, but they would have liked the option for the higher grip tyres) has continued to be talked about 3 *years* after it appeared.

    And now (Act II) we get the reports of battery issues *specifically* not covered in the warranty, which suggests substantial *prior* knowledge of the problem.

    Europe (and the UK) is *not* America.

    1. Vic

      Re: I guess Tesla are operating on the US damage control model.

      > what would have been a *non* story


      Lotus showed everyone how to do it.

      Clarkson reviewed an Elise, IIRC, and didn't like it, making all sorts of claims about how it didn't perform like it should[1].

      So Lotus sent a test driver down to show him that it *did* do what he said it couldn't[2]. It was just his ham-fisted driving style that was getting in the way.


      [1] There is a simple rule to whether or not Clarkson will give something a good review: if it oversteers slightly without spinning, he loves it. If it understeers, he whinges about the steering. If it spins, he describes it as "uncouth" or similar. I live in hope that one day he will figure out that the fact it doesn't behave the same way when someone talented is behind the wheel doesn't mean that there's a problem with the car...

      [2] Clarkson had moaned that the car understeered through every corner. So the Lotus driver took him round the track oversteering every corner. Maybe they changed the car. Or the track.

      1. Cpt Blue Bear

        Re: Re: I guess Tesla are operating on the US damage control model.

        Clarkson: Why isn't understeering!?

        Mark Weber: It's something called throttle control.

  21. bitmap animal
    Thumb Down

    Surely it's just a maintenances issue

    Providing the owner knows that part of the maintenance of the car is to keep it charged then I don't see a problem. If you don’t' service your car and it breaks is that the manufacturers fault, if you don't do a maintenance wash on your washing machine and it starts to smell is that the manufactures fault?

    If you hire a van it's in the agreement you need to check the oil every day. Most people don't and have no problems but if you don't check it and you have a problem it's YOUR responsibility.

    Yes it's expensive but that doesn't mean you don't need to give it any attention. It's not a battery problem, it's a complacent owner problem.

  22. g e

    TG flat battery

    IIRC, it was stated that the pushing of the Tesla into the garage on the show was *illustrative* of what would happen if you ran out of electrons, which would be true. I don't actually remember them saying it DID run out.

    No-one moaned when they did that run from Bern(?) to Manchester for turning on some lights on one tank of fuel and the petrol cars ran out. No, cos THAT's WHAT HAPPENS when you run out of go-juice in a car.

    Seems like Tesla have bigger problems on their hands than the context of a TG soundbite, anyway. Stuff em.

  23. Joe Pineapples

    Deja Vroom

    I imagine a late 19th century conversation " Ach herr Diesel, this Carnot cycle engine you haff invented does not haf ze range or ease of use off der horse, und you haff to keep putting der hard to find fuel in der tank" <shakes head slowly> "It vill nefer catch on"

    TESLA, not there yet, but keep going guys.

  24. Ron1

    Tesla did several major fails

    Suing BBC? Typical US way! Rather invest $$$ in improvement!

    @JeffyPooh: spot on!

    Tesla did some major fails over the years (some facts may be different, but I am sure I'm pretty close)

    1. Battery cost: for cost & dependability they use ~5600 standard laptop cells (18650 type), produced in billions per year. Those cells cost from ~$3 for state of the art cells (currently >3Ah per cell) down to ~$2 for older designs with ~2-2.4Ah per cell. Tesla said several years ago they use 2Ah cells (when state of the art was 2.6Ah) due to their maturity & resilience (to extreme temps, currents, etc.). At $2, the cells cost Tesla ~$12,000. Let's say total battery pack cost $15,000 with protection circuits & packaging (they have several patents for this). Charging $40,000 for the battery is absurd! And even in worst case, only the cells need replacement, not the box & electronics! As for battery protection: At 5% charge remaining battery should go in "deep sleep" as JeffyPooh suggested, with additional primary battery charge backup if needed. Also Tesla could monitor all cars & contact users if such condition is registered.

    2. They took a lovely compact & light Lotus chassis & turned it into a fat guys car: it took them (&Lotus) several years to do structural mods (like lowering door sills) so fatter Americans can cram themselves in (hint for "big" guys: buy a Continental GT instead).

    3. Instead of using 2 direct drive motors (one for each rear wheel), they used a single motor + transmission + differential... Mayor fail, which adds complexity & mass and reduces efficiency due to transmission losses

    4. They should not sell a car made for US in EU: Cars are not pushed to the limits in US while in EU they are and top Gear simply did legally on a race track what a lot of owners would do. Considering all, I think the Tesla did not do so bad... Most US production cars would fail when driven flat out - and that's gasoline cars, produced in billions with 100+years of development

    1. fishman

      Re: Tesla did several major fails

      "4. They should not sell a car made for US in EU: Cars are not pushed to the limits in US while in EU they are"

      Cars tend to be driven further per day in the US than the EU, and range is a big "limit" on electric cars. As far as speeds go, the maximum speed limit in the UK is 70mph, and most of europe is 81 mph. Many states in the US have maximum speed limits of 75 mph, and Texas and Utah have a maximum speed limit of 80 mph. And in the US, these roads are far longer than in europe, and you may be driving at those speeds for *many* hours. I've driven 1000 miles in one day many times, with speeds often over 80mph. And my car, a Ford Taurus, has 200,000 miles on it, with only routine maintenance.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Re: Tesla did several major fails

        "Many states in the US have maximum speed limits of 75 mph, and Texas and Utah have a maximum speed limit of 80 mph."

        AND you have to remember that, due to the 55 MPH laws of the late 70's to early 90's, most people automatically add AT LEAST 10MPH to the posted speed limit to determine the "real" limit. If you are on an interstate with a posted speed of 75MPH and you are not doing AT LEAST 85, you are going to be passed constantly.

        Then add the NHTSA regulations that pretty much demand that you should be able to drive into a bridge abutment at 50MPH while not wearing your seat belt and walk away, and you pretty much HAVE to have heavier and larger cars.

  25. mark l 2 Silver badge

    The type of people who purchase tesla's are the type who would be away in the Maldives for months at a time so the car would be suseptable to the battery problem

    Surely under European law as they are being sold with a known flaw you could return it to the seller if purchased new for upto 6 years for a refund or repair?

    So this would sting the dealer network pretty hard so if Tesla refuse to replace them under warranty the dealers will drop Tesla's pretty quickly.

  26. AbortRetryFail

    There's a product on the market that will physically disconnect your battery if the level drops below a certain level, which is designed for cars that sit unused for long periods, so that when you go to drive them you are not left with a flat battery.

    I don't understand why the Tesla cars don't have a similar safeguard system that disconnects all parasitic load when the charge reaches a certain level to specifically prevent the batteries becoming bricked.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Battery disconnect

      LiIon cells discharge anyway so it'd still be a brick but it'd take some number of weeks longer to get there.

      1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

        Re: Re: Battery disconnect

        The self-discharge of Li-Ion cells is about the lowest of any rechargable technology (think several years from full to flat, not several weeks.

        The reason that this pack goes flat is because of all the subsystems that are always powered in the battery (and when I read the original papers about them I said this would happen).

  27. Tyson Key

    To be fair to Top Gear, they did say something along the lines of "If the batteries run out, this is what *might* happen" when they were pushing the car back into the garage, during the first "controversial" episode, if I remember correctly.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Then perhaps what Tesla should have done

      Is go for an apology/calrification from the BBC about misrepresentation, rather than a kerfuffle in the courts - which is something that only makes lawyers richer.

    2. gort

      Not really, the script, sound effects, and visuals strongly suggested that it actually ran out of power.

      "This car really was shaping up to be something wonderful but then....

      (artificial dying motor sounds and music slowing down and stopping)

      ...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 it's not a quick job to charge it up again.

      (footage of people pushing the car into the hangar followed by Jeremy Clarkson inserting the charger lead into the Roadster)"

  28. Hayden Clark Silver badge

    Non-eco eco car

    The inability to disconnect the battery seems like a major fail. Obviously if a switch would be impossible due to high currents, what about a hatch in the floor with a big bolt that you undo to remove the connection (just like an ordinary car battery, only much meatier?

    What horrified me was the idea that the battery might also go flat if the charger is plugged into too long an extension lead! That implies that the car consumes more than 1-2kW!

    So, leaving your car plugged in for, say, a month would cost you in the region of £150.


    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Non-eco eco car

      "what about a hatch in the floor with a big bolt that you undo to remove the connection"

      Perko switches come to mind ... I've been using them in my boats for nearly half a century.

    2. M Gale

      Re: Non-eco eco car

      I have to wonder why they don't use a bog standard Fork Lift Truck battery connector or similar. If that thing can stand a 3500Ah 72V lead/acid battery dumping enough current into the hydraulic motor to lift two and a half metric tons into the air, it can stand an E car.

      Not using it for a while? Flip bonnet/boot, grab both side of connector and yank sharply. Problem solved.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Tesla Shrill?

    I wonder if Mr Tinus could clarify what kind of discount he got on his Tesla?

  30. This post has been deleted by its author

  31. Rob 44

    Defeating the object.

    I can't understand the hype behind electric cars.

    Is it going to save the planet if we all buy them? No, is the simple answer.

    While you might not be polluting directly by burning fossil fuels, the power plants to cope with all the extra electricity consumption will have to burn more to keep up with the demand. So its defeating the purpose.

    The only way forward is hydrogen powdered cars. Hydrogen is the most abundant material in the universe. (I could be wrong, feel free to correct me on that). The only by product of a hydrogen powered car is water. No extra electricity needs to be generated, and no pollution is produced. The sooner car manafacturers (other than Honda who already have prototypes on the road) realise this, the better.

    1. jphb

      Re: Defeating the object.

      Hmm. Yes there's an awful lot of hydrogen about, but on this planet, you need energy to separate it from other elements, usually oxygen, where is that coming from - an oil-fired power station perhaps? Hydrogen gas also has a low energy density per unit volume - certainly compared with petroleum - so hydrogen powered vehicles need either huge gas bags, weighty compressed hydrogen cylinders or expensive cryogenic systems.

    2. Vic

      Re: Defeating the object.

      > No, is the simple answer.

      "Not yet" would be the more accurate answer.

      The power for electric vehicles does generally come from fossil sources, as you say - but that might not always be true. If the grid ran on nuclear power, it would be a lot greener.

      Upgrading the grid to get that much extra power out to consumers might be a different matter, of course...

      > The only way forward is hydrogen powdered cars.

      Again, not yet.

      There are two common methods of producing hydrogen - steam cracking of methane and electrolysis. The former produces *loads* of CO2, the latter requires all the electricity requirements of a plug-in electric, plus a bit more to cope with the loss of H2 in the distribution chain...

      > No extra electricity needs to be generated

      This is, of course, quite, quite wrong.

      > no pollution is produced.

      As is this. No pollution is produced *at the tailpipe*; it's all somewhere else...


      1. Chemist

        Re: Re: Defeating the object.

        "latter requires all the electricity requirements of a plug-in electric"

        Whilst I agree with you about this I must point out that electrolysis has rather a poor efficiency of it's own (~~50%).

    3. BristolBachelor Gold badge


      "Hydrogen is the most abundant material in the universe"

      Yes, that is true. However, there are whole seas of Methane/Ethane on Titan, a moon of Saturn. We should make all cars run from that instead, and it is closer than all that Hydrogen out in the universe :)

    4. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Defeating the object.

      "Hydrogen is the most abundant material in the universe."

      True, but the problem is that most of the hydrogen on Earth has already been burned - it's already oxidized (read: water). So to use it as a fuel you have to un-burn it first.

      And to un-burn one thing, thermodynamics demands you "burn" something else (increase the entropy). Either you burn oil, you burn gas, you "burn" uranium, or you use that "fire" about 8.3 light-minutes away (and the problem with that is that solar and wind are very low density power sources).

      1. BorkedAgain
        Thumb Up

        @David D

        *Thank* you! Couldn't have put that better myself.

  32. Magnus_Pym

    Top Gear is an entertainment show

    It stopped being factual years ago?

    What? you didn't actually believe them did you?

  33. Jim 59


    "...Top Gear had staged scenes..."

    The whole of TG seems staged, for which reason I fast forward through most of the show. The heavily scripted exchanges are embarassing. This saddens me as a JC fan. He is genuinly insightful about cars and his books are funny and well written. He was the first motoring journalist to spot the "moose" disaster with the early Mercedes A class.

    However, in my view the Tesla item was an assassination. JC is part of Murdoch now, and these days you never know what labyrinthine back channels might be operating. For all I know, Murdoch or his buddies might own an oil rig.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    whom takes anything top gear says as gospel really really needs a reality check up.

  35. This post has been deleted by its author

  36. HP Cynic

    They have sold 2,000 or so with only 5 bricks so far but it's very early days but there's no real solution in sight

    Even owners who don't brick their cars are likely to face a dying battery long before the "normal" 10-year lifespan of a car.

  37. William saywell

    Calor gas

    The solution to the battery problem lies in the calor gas model.

    The battery design must be standardised. You rent a battery from a supplier.

    Batteries are available at outlets throughout the country - let's call them 'garages' .

    When your battery get low, you visit a garage and swap your battery for a fully-charged one and go on your way [with minimal delay and hands that don't smell of diesel].

    The garage-man puts the battery you left behind on charge. If it shows up as at its end of life, it gets replaced by the leasing company.

    It works for caravanners...


    1. Vic

      Re: Calor gas

      > you visit a garage and swap your battery for a fully-charged one

      It's a little more complex than that.

      Lithium batteries have a very finite lifespan - they permanently degrade just by being in existence. Additionally, the more charge is in a cell, the greater the rate of degradation. Similar for heat.

      So one battery is not at all like another; each one would need to be tracked, and its current worth (i.e. maximum capacity) reckoned into the cost of replacement.

      It's all possible, but the propensity for fraud seems rather high...


    2. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Re: Calor gas

      This is also being done for some taxis in Japan, although it is early days.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Calor gas

      The big difference is that a propane tank is ca. 10kg. It's relatively easy to secure it.

      An e-car's battery pack is many hundreds of kilograms. To keep it from ripping loose in a collision takes a LOT of bolts, trusses, and such to hold it down. Undoing all those bolts, swapping out the pack (with some form of handtruck, unless your mechanic is Robocop, Kal-El, or an angry Bruce Banner) and retightening all those bolts is a LOT of labor - read: a lot of cost. And automating the system is VERY complex.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

        Re: Re: Calor gas

        "An e-car's battery pack is many hundreds of kilograms. "

        True but its *mounting* is an engineering *design* issue. With the *right* design this can be a 5 minute job with a powered wrench (something that could be made available at a local garage).

        As is the decision to have it as a *unified* or *modular* sized packages. A *key* enabler of getting widespread take up of a *common* design.

  38. andy gibson

    @ rob44

    I think the "bigger picture" when it comes down to fossil fuels is efficiency when its burnt.

    I don't know the current figures for how efficient a car is, but perhaps it's more efficient for the fossil fuel to be burnt in bulk at a power station rather than in each individual car.

    1. Rob 44

      Re: @ rob44

      True I'm sure it is more efficient, but that just means more burnt more efficiently. Which still means a massive increase in pollutant output.

    2. BorkedAgain

      Re: @ rob44

      More efficient to burn it in bulk, convert it to electricity, transmit that electrical power through the domestic mains, and store it energy in heavy, expensive-to-produce-and-nigh-unrecyclable rechargeable cells? As opposed to simply carrying the highly-energetic fuel around and burning it in situ?

      I could be wrong, but it almost sounds like the solution's worse than the problem...

  39. Conrad Longmore

    Range anxiety

    One of the things that TG pointed out was that the range of an electric vehicle varies depending on how you drive it.. no surprise there, as it is true of fossil fuel cars too. So, the car might have a range of 200 miles if you drive it like a vicar, but if you drive like a nutter and have the airconditioning on then you'll get a lot less.

    Now, we've probably all suffered from "range anxiety" where the petrol tank is looking low and there's quite a distance to go.. but with an EV it's critical since you can't just pop into a recharging station (if one exists) and be out in 5 minutes as you can with a petrol car.

    AFAIK, there is just one model of EV on the market that doesn't have this problem, and that is the Chevrolet Volt (aka the Vauxhall or Opel Ampera). The uses a petrol generator as a range extender. The problem with *that* car is that it is still quite small and fairly pricey, but it does have the huge advantage that if you run out of charge you can still keep going..

  40. Anonymous Coward

    Clarkson doesn't use scriptwriters.....

    A few years ago Clarkson gave an interview saying he'd never used scriptwriters. Which annoyed Danny Baker who commented on his radio show it must have been a totally different Jeremy Clarkson he'd been writing scripts for a few years previously.

  41. nemo20000

    Where are the steam trains these days?

    “I bought a Tesla, ignored the instructions and didn’t keep the battery topped up, and now I have an expensive repair bill” – ooh, class action, end of Tesla, fragile toy.

    “I bought <any other supercar>, ignored the instructions and didn’t keep the oil topped up, and now I have an expensive repair bill” – you are an idiot, don’t deserve the car, don’t know what you’re doing.

    But of course that’s DIFFERENT isn’t it? Yes. Definitely. I’m sure the rationalisation will be along any moment now... Yes. Oh I know! Something about moving or not moving. Yes. Phew! For a moment there I was in danger of having to rethink my prejudices.

    1. the-it-slayer

      Re: Where are the steam trains these days?

      An engine with no oil isn't going to cost you $40k to repair or even replace! ;-).

      Anyway, did no one see the review on the car which charges the batteries from an engine? Fisker Karma? Much more effecient way, especially when the electric motors produce more torque to the wheels than the conventional petrol/diesel directly powered enginers.

      Mass-market car companies really need to get onboard with the realities here.

      It's Friday and I think everyone deserves a beer.

      1. Vic

        Re: Re: Where are the steam trains these days?

        > Fisker Karma? Much more effecient way, especially when the

        > electric motors produce more torque to the wheels

        That was the design of the Porsche-Lohner Mixte. That was selling in 1901...


    2. BristolBachelor Gold badge


      I left a car parked up for a whole 9 months once. I'm not that good at maths, but that is more than 11 weeks no?

      Anyway, at the end of the 9 months, I went back to it, and it started up and ran fine. The engine didn't blow-up, nothing turned into a brick, and even the fuel still worked (didn't even have a flat battery :)

      Oh reading your post again, am I feeding a troll?

  42. SJRulez

    Its all pointless anyway

    Tesla and the gang can carry on the arguments all day long, the bottom line at the moment still is...... UK electricity generation capacity cant support many electric cars.

    If we replace all 27million cars in the UK alone we would need a four fold increase in electricity generation which isn't going to happen anytime soon and with the present rising costs of electricity thanks to all the green subsidies and feed in tariffs currently being paid out. For all those who say it will be greener thats great, but lets bear in mind that a four fold increase using wind farms, solar and tidal would take up massive amounts of space losing those nice green areas we want to protect and blighting the countryside.

    I believe by the time they have viable electric vehicles the cost of running your car on electric will outstrip the cost of running it on oil based fuels.

  43. fourThirty

    Electric cars...

    I don't see how they can be that much 'greener', the electricity still has to be generated somehow... might aswell just build a car that has a sail and pedals for true green efficiency

    1. Rob 44

      Re: Electric cars...

      You might be onto something there. Zero pollution and less obesity. Two birds with one stone and all that.

  44. Ilgaz

    You have to learn these

    This site covers everything about batteries down to non existence of a true lithium polymer battery.

    It actually saves money too, for example when a phone dealer genius tells you to "empty the battery and charge" or when you see android apps claiming to help you "calibrate" battery, you know the harm it will cause to lithium since they are all based on cadmium tech which is absolutely opposite of lithium.

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Re: You have to learn these

      ISTR that batteryuniversity was not too bad a site, but haven't seen it in 3 years.

      As for cadmium, don't know where you live, but the Europeans don't like it that much, and it's devilishly hard to find these days, despite being a much better chemistry for some uses, and copes better with lots of abuse. (However it's not very nice, and China did shut-down permanantly one Panasonic battery plant because their safety record was suspect).

      As for calibration, and fully discharging; Anything with a "fuel gauge" needs to know the capacity of the battery to be able to tell you how much is left. The only way it really knows this for sure, is to monitor a complete discharge to full cycle. When you run your laptop completely flat, the battery monitor counts the number of coulombs into the battery to know it's capacity and then counts them out as you use it to know how many are left. If you never discharge it completely, it never knows how much the battery has aged, and may tell you that you have 40% time remaining, when in reality its 0%.

  45. David Evans

    This whole debacle says far more about the prevailing American culture of corporate spin control (particularly techie companies with a Northern Californian bent) than it does about the merits of electric cars. In the US and most of the European media, Tesla could have huffed and puffed and bullied their way to a retraction, because ultimately, advertising dollars are at stake. However, "due to the unique way the BBC is funded", Top Gear is under far less pressure to toe the commercial line. A good example of that is the way Clarkson slagged off a certain overblown Italian supercar on this week's episode; you won't find that level of candour in any of the commercial media because it get's jumped on by the PRs pretty damn quick (look up a journalist called Chris Harris for the inside, er...spin on this).

    Clarkson and co can't be controlled, and long may it continue frankly.

    1. Jim 59

      @David Evans

      I've heard it said that nearly all car magazines are on back handers. Not sure about that, but some of them are definitely "committed" to certain brands. Pick up a copy and count the number of pictures in the first 5 or 10 pages. If 90% are of the same brand or two, you are reading xxx. If you can be bothered, count the rest of the pics in the mag. It returns to random after the first 10 pages.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  46. JeffyPooh

    You can simulate the e-car life-style experience with your existing car

    Buy some Jerry Cans, fill them with gasoline, and keep them at home.

    Never, never ever, refuel your car except at home from the aforementioned Jerry Cans.

    Never, never ever, refuel your car's gas tank above one-eighth of full.

    Try it for a year and see if you like it.

  47. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Note that *electric" car is not *necessarily* a battery car

    True the options are *limited* but just consider.

    Fuel cells. Yes you need a reactant deliver infrastructure but so what? One of those already exists. My *ideal* option would be to use *sugars*, eliminating the conversion to Ethanol or Hydrogen and allow sourcing from any sort of plant.

    Kinetic energy storage. High speed flywheels can be pretty light weight and store substantial energy. Vacuum housing and *very * strong magnets have been known since the early 80s.

    The issue is that the best form factors for *conventional* batteries are not those of flywheel systems.

    Just a thought.

  48. Stephen Gray

    Close the door when you leave.

    What a suprise, an American company engaging in vexatious litigation. Fail. Cheerio.

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