The fact that Tesla has been even remotely successful is kind of a side benefit. The biggest thing they've done is transform the electric car market in the popular consciousness from being a joke. Ultimately that means that a lot more consumers are going to start considering electric vehicles when they are looking to buy a new automobile. Also it means that there are likely to be a lot more new entrants into the electric car market (both existing automotive manufacturers and new companies), because it's becoming a place where companies can make money. All of which will put the electric car market into the same sort of profit -> R&D -> better vehicles -> profit feedback loop that the internal combustion car has benefited from for over a century. One way or the other we'll find out whether the potential of electric vehicles matches the promise.
"Electric car maker Tesla Motors helped Mercedes develop and is manufacturing parts of the new car's electric drive system, including the lithium ion battery pack, electric motors, on-board charger and other electronics. Besides producing its own car, the Tesla Model S sedan, Tesla already produces electric drive components for the battery-powered Toyota Rav4 EV."
Top Gear are only scathing of Tesla due to being sued by them over a joke. Prior to that, they were actually being quite fair and reasonable from what I could see.
So in exchange for a failed lawsuit, Tesla lost the backing of the largest motoring TV show in the world. Probably the biggest mis-step they've made so far.
I love Top Gear, but you're getting your timeline mixed up. It went like this:
1) Tesla loans Top Gear a Roadster'
2) Top Gear does a show showing it running out of power and being pushed back into the garage at the track and they state that its range is comically low.
3) Tesla claims it was all staged
Whether or not you believe Tesla or Top Gear (and it seems relatively clear that Top Gear probably did stage it) the timeline does not show a shift in attitude from Top Gear regarding Tesla. They've always made fun of it.
> Comically low on the track, going full out. Which seems to be a pretty reasonable claim.
Well, except for the part where apparently they didn't actually manage to run it dry on the track.
This said, it's fucking Top Gear. Their idea of a "serious" car review of the Renault Twingo is seeing if a car (undoubtedly not stock) can do a flip in a sewer tunnel. Their review of the Reliant Robin was only about how the car (again, modified), only flips. Somebody should have clued Tesla in.
Oh absolutely, I don't deny that Top Gear almost certainly staged it for comic effect. But I thought it was a decent review of the car upto and including that point.
The one major concern that almost everyone has about electric cars is to do with the range anxiety and I thought they demonstrated that well. Sure, it was staged; but staged to demonstrate the point in an entertaining way (well, the amount of entertainment is personal preference I guess).
All this was before the Model S, too. It's interesting that their series 20 just finished up and they didn't include a whisper about the Model S, either. Too bad, because I think if Tesla had ignored the joke, they'd have had some good press from TG.
Your right: Top Gear is quite literally is a joke. They make absurd claims about cars all the time in the interest of humor, because at the end of the day, they are a comedy show that occasionally talks about cars.
Tesla should have realized their car was going to be the butt of some joke: it's what the show does. If Tesla can't handle being made fun of, then they shouldn't have given Top Gear a car to test.
I agree here. Anyone who has ever seen more than 15min of Top Gear knows that it is not what you would call "journalism", but more "entertainment". What's more, they are not like those American car shows, which get their revenue from ads, and thus never have anything bad to say about any car review ever, and thus the programming is just drab and droll...
edit: I also enjoy the fact that top gear is much more opinionated and un-PC than anything else out there. It's keeps it interesting. Yeah, so Clarkson hates EVs, hates Ford, and hates "caravans". Once you can get past this and accept you and him very well may have different viewpoints, he's hilarious.
It's a love/hate relationship. He bought a GT40 (and then had many problems with it, but loved it, from what I remember). From what I can gather from the series, Ford is fairly popular in the UK (with the Mondeo?), so it's an easy target.
It was hardly a joke on Top Gear's part. They have been ridiculously antagonistic to electric cars over the years. Top Gear staff pushed a Tesla Model S during an episode, falsely insisting to their audience that it was out of juice when it still had many, many miles of range remaining. They deserved the lawsuit and it should never have failed.
I've read many complaints by EV owners that state the range really isn't nailed down... it's usually "it depends". Something as simple as temperature changes can cause the car to lose many miles range.
That being said, the problem is that EV battery technology is still young: Most manufacturers state the upper-limit instead or something realistic. For an example: smartphones nowadays usually go past their claimed battery life despite that before it was hard for them to stay on for an entire day.
Top Gear drastically misrepresented the Tesla's range. It wasn't particularly funny, comedic, or for educational effect. It was simply misleading.
I own a Nissan Leaf and am well aware that range depends upon a series of conditions like weather, excessive acceleration and braking, and climate control. THIS IS TRUE OF ALL CARS, but matters more in EVs.
That does not mean that anyone would be well-served by an automotive review that lists towns and distances traveled, but which then misrepresents the car's state of charge to pretend its battery is completely discharged when it's actually over one-third full.
The RAV4 was appealing to me, but I've watched the forums and there seems to be an ongoing spate of serious problems with Toyota and Tesla pointing fingers at each other. The forum moderator has had his RAV4 in the shop a number of times for non-trivial things.