A British high court has cleared Top Gear of libel charges against the EV automaker.Tesla was less than pleased in 2008 when Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson claimed the company's Roadster model had a 55 mile range (Tesla rated its range at 200 miles), prompting the EV automaker to level a libel lawsuit against the BBC and the program.
The company probably wasn't overjoyed by a British High Court's ruling earlier this week, either, which found that Clarkson's words were not consistent with the legal definition of libel.
Justice Tugenhadt wrote: "In my judgment, the words complained of are wholly incapable of conveying any meaning at all to the effect that the claimant misled anyone. This is because there is a contrast between the style of driving and the nature of the track as compared with the conditions on a public road... no reasonable person could understand that the performance on the [Top Gear] track is capable of a direct comparison with a public road."
Essentially, Tugenhadt's statement suggests that consumers realize that range will fluctuate given where (and how) the Roadster is driven, and that a track isn't the place where the most range will be eked out.
Top Gear isn't out of the woods with regard to Tesla's lawsuit just yet, though. The program still faces claims of five separate incidents of malicious falsehood: Tesla has alleged that Top Gear fabricated a brake failure, an engine overheating and staged the Roadster's battery draining after 55 miles.
Tesla had hoped Top Gear would stop airing the episode in question and clear the company's reputation, but a court ruling in favor of the remaining charges doesn't seem a likely scenario at this point.
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