Two posts in one today. A great series of articles from the folks over at Wired Magazine on their Auto Blog. It seems that Jeremy Clarkson "test drove" a Tesla Roadster for an episode of Top Gear. If you are not familiar with this show, you'll get a taste of the show with the YouTube video above. The show has become a phenomenon with gear heads and non-gear-heads alike.
Below are both of Chuck Squatriglia's post on the this episode of Top Gear.
By Chuck Squatriglia December 15, 2008 | 8:30:53 PM
December 15, 2008 | 8:30:53 PM
Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson beat the snot out of a pair of Tesla Roadsters, and while he was blown away by the EV's ungodly acceleration and technological prowess, he ultimately decided the car looks better on paper than it does on the track.
Clarkson couldn't contain his glee as he stomped on the accelerator for the first time, exclaiming "God Almighty!" as the Tesla smoked a Lotus Elise off the line. "Not bad for a motor that's the size of a watermelon," he said. The car's ample acceleration - 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds - was enough to make him forgive the car's somewhat clumsy handling, something Clarkson attributed to the huge battery pack.
Things were going swimmingly until the cars ran out of juice after 55 miles, needed 16 hours to recharge and broke down. That was it for Clarkson.
"The Tesla is an astonishing technical achievement - the first electric car you might actually want to own," he declared. "It's just a shame that in the real world, it doesn't seem to work."
By Chuck Squatriglia December 16, 2008 | 6:46:52 PM
All may not be as it appears with Jeremy Clarkson's test of the Tesla Roadster for Top Gear.
As we mentioned yesterday, Clarkson raved about the EV's sublime acceleration, but ultimately decided the Roadster doesn't live up to the hype because the two cars Tesla sent over for the test ran out of juice after 55 miles, needed 16 hours to recharge and broke down.
Or did they?
Tesla spokesman Rachel Konrad dropped us a line to clarify a few points in Top Gear's test.
First and foremost, she says, the lithium-ion batteries in the two cars never went dead. In fact, they never fell below 20 percent charge. "They never had to push a car off the track because of lack of charge or a fault," and it isn't clear why the segment included footage showing exactly that, she said.
She's also puzzled by Clarkson's claim that the car needed 16 hours to charge. She says "the vast majority" of people who have a Tesla in their garage -- and there are now more than 100 of them -- "have much faster systems that recharge from dead to full in as little as 3.5 hours."
As for the breakdowns, well, Clarkson engaged in a bit of hyperbole. At one point in the segment, Clarkson is shownn behind the wheel of a Roadster that comes to a halt because, he said, the engine overheated. That followed a brake failure in the other Roadster.
Konrad says the brake failure was nothing more than a blown fuse that was promptly replaced. "The Roadster was back up and running literally within minutes," she says. "They were never without a car, and the Top Gear testing did not put the Roadster's reliability or safety in question whatsoever."
Konrad didn't know the story behind the overheated engine -- Clarkson did flog the car mercilessly -- so she referred our question to UK sales manager Don Cochrane because he was present for much of the Top Gear filming. We'll let you know what he says.
Despite his technical complaints, Clarkson was impressed enough by the Roadster to declare himself a "volt head" and say "it is snowing in hell" because he had such fun driving it. "This is amazingly high praise from Clarkson, whose entire schtick is to savage even his most beloved petrol-guzzling sports cars," Konrad says.
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