Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson.
Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson. drive.com.au

Top Gear 1, car maker 0

US car maker Tesla has lost a crucial round of its high-profile libel case against the BBC's Top Gear motoring program.

The electric car specialist had launched legal action against Top Gear and lead presenter Jeremy Clarkson earlier this year after it alleged a 2009 episode of the show deliberately misled viewers regarding the battery range of its Roadster model.

The segment showed the film crew pushing the Tesla off the test track, with controversial host Clarkson claiming the Roadster had run out of charge after just 55 miles on its track. Tesla claims the Roadster can travel 200 miles on a full charge.

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A British high court judge, however, this week dismissed Tesla's libel claim.

"In my judgment, the words complained of are wholly incapable of conveying any meaning at all to the effect that the claimant [Tesla] misled anyone," Mr Justice Tugendhat is reported as ruling by the UK's Guardian newspaper.

"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 [...] are so great that no reasonable person could understand that the performance on the [Top Gear] track is capable of a direct comparison with a public road."

The law suit continues, with Tesla's other claims of "malicious falsehoods" from the same episode to be addressed.

The Guardian reports that the judge is expected to return a verdict within weeks.


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