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back to article Tesla takes Top Gear test to task

Did one of the two Tesla Roadsters tested by BBC TV's Top Gear really die on the track and need to be pushed into the studio garage by hand? That's the question that has been exercising minds since Jeremy Clarkson tossed his orb on the Californian 'leccy sports car on Sunday night. The Top Gear segment gave the distinct …

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Top Gear in 'making it up' shocker

Hardly new, is it? Top Gear has been shite for years. All they ever do is pretend to blow up or crash some stuff that's already been cut in half, and make stupid comments that are irrelevant about cars.

A friend of mine took his car to TG so they could test the 0-60 on it against a 911. They were explicitly told the best way to get the fastest launch out of it, and had it demonstrated 3 times. They were also told that dumping the clutch would be slower and potentially damage the car.

Lo and behold, when they filmed the piece they intentionally dumped the clutch to get more wheelspin/smoke (which is good for TV). They then slated the car for not having much grip and not accelerating as fast as claimed, before handing back the keys to my friend (along with, it turned out, a bill for a replacement clutch).

Anyone who believes anything they say on the show probably also thinks the Sun is a broadsheet and the Sunday Sport is factual. The show is quite entertaining sometimes (if you can ignore the crowd of fawning geeks who stand around worshipping JC) but it's certainly not factual (and never claimed to be).

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if they made it up

Good for them. those cars will never reach the mainstream and anyone serious enough to buy one will either be stupid enough to take the manufacturers specs as wrote or will demand a decent road test.

Top gear have every right to take the piss, and at the end of the day - they did have a point. The fact they NEEDED two in the first place says something.

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Tesla - old tech

More important was the fact that on the same program they had the Honda FCX Clarity, which in the turn of a key, made the Tesla obsolete.

We now have a working hydrogen fuel cell vehicle froma production line. All we need now is to convince the energy companies to start making and selling hydrogen at the pumps.

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Go

Good effort ...

The Tesla is clearly a great bit of engineering but in the long-term electric cars are not at all practical. The Honda featured at the end of the show looks a much better prospect. However - I would still rather have a Caterham R500 (Top Gear Car of the year 2008) as it looked like brilliant fun going round the track in that!

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Petrol heads try to undermine electric car shock, not

Hardly a surprise. Going along with all there other comments about charging times for cars. No mention of the new battery tech upcoming that will allow 80% odd charge in a few minutes.

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Stop

Six of One, Half-a-dozen of the Other...?

I reckon. I don't believe 'simple fuse failure' - Fuses always fail for a reason and the solution isn't ever to install a new fuse. Perhaps if the fuse rating was too low in the first place... then yes, replace the fuse because it is tripping out from bad circuit design. Or if you find a short-circuit somewhere then fix the problem and then replace the fuse. I guess what I'm trying to say... a fuse blowing is the symptom and not the cause. When would it be a good time for a fuse in the braking system to fail anyway?

Clarkson said a lot of good things about their new car and I was fairly impressed. The price is high so nobody will be able to afford to buy one. But in theory it is great.

I would say any attempt to sue the BBC or TopGear for a bad review would indicate a serious error of judgment on the part of Tesla. They have no right to expect a perfect review of their product.

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Errr....Clarkson liked it

The general impression that I got from the review was that Clarkson liked it, but it wasn't reliable enough. The fact that he said "yes, I've just heard, it's snowing in Hell" should have told them something. Sounds like a car manufacturer having a whinge because someone doesn't think their baby is perfect. Or maybe they're sore about the piece at the end of the show about Hydrogen cars, where they basically said the Tesla is a waste of time. Either way, the review wasn't nearly as negative as they're making out, and a blown fuse is still a failure of the car, numbnuts.

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Joke

The Beeb faking something.....

Scandalous accusation! Unheard of!!!

Oh, wait.....

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Artistic Licence

It seems the lady at Tesla hadn't heard of Top Gear before lending them cars. The push back to the garage was obviously to stress the fact that the car ran out of juice and they weren't able to test in the same way they would a petrol car.

The bit about the brake failure being due to a blown fuse is even more scary when you hear it that way. A blown fuse called the brakes to fail?

The recharging would be an extreme case, but even if you have a dedicated fast charging rig at home you might be travelling somewhere over half the range away and then you are going to need to charge from a standard socket. The charging time is an issue, even if its 4-6 hours, when compared with petrol/diesel powered cars.

Clarkson did say that he liked it, there is no doubt that the car is quick, but its a technology demonstration rather than a practical proposition. The Tesla addresses the performance issues of electric car but recharging time is still the real problem.

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Anonymous Coward

Come on..It's not a car show..

It's a sit-com about three mismatched oddball boys

stuck in middle-aged men's bodies. There just happens to be some 4-wheeled props involved.

It's only a matter of time before they are rolling down hills in bathtubs.

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Paris Hilton

Kryton has a lot to say about this....

Robert Llewelyn of Kryton fame felt it neccessary to put an entertaining rant on youtube about this very subject. - http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=LPi8EhT_fYA&feature=channel_page. Some interesting points made.

I think Clarkson and the Top Gear team will be rubbing there hands with glee, yet again, at yet more controversial news. Its what Top Gear thrives on and its why they script things that way.

Remember, they have DVD's and books to sell for Christmas!

Paris - becuase she's simply a model of honesty and integrity.

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Anonymous Coward

55 Miles.

If I recall, Top Gear also measured the fuel consumption of supercars when they belt them round the track a bit back and got just shy of 2mpg from most of them.

A Ferrari 599 has a 100lt tank (approx) or ~22 gallons so would only manage 44 miles on a tank.

It seems electric cars have the range for once...

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Go

ffs

Its TV (and TV of the non serious flavour) - as long as no one was being swindled then who cares.. please god not another daily mail fuelled 'scandal'

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Anonymous Coward

Scary

It's very very scary that a simple fuse failure could leave you with no brakes. What if that fuse went at speed? Or as you approached a school crossing. If it is the case that a simple fuse failure can take out the single most safety critical system on the car then that was the most significant part of the whole test. Of course the fact that the brakes failed at all is a damning indictment of the car's reliability. How many cars have you driven that suffered a catastrophic brake failure after 55 miles?

Another significant part of the test is that charge time. 16 hours! The great thing about internal combustion, or indeed a hydrogen fuel cell, is that you can stop and refuel quickly whenever you run short. Battery tech is a dead end. I know fans of battery powered cars have the idea that most journeys are short urban ones, and maybe they are, but almost every car will be called upon ocasionally to make a much longer journey. What are we supposed to do keep a second car for those journeys? My sister lives 180 miles away and I would not trust a car with an advertised maximum range of only 200 miles to make the journey.

The other significant thing you missed is that Tesla claim they have built a sports car, but they fit it with hard, skinny tyres to maximize battery range. That really is something of a con. Would Lotus fit one of their cars with the same tyres just so they could claim better fuel consumption? What's going to happen in the real world? Owners will fit wider stickier tyres and end up with much less range.

I think leccy cars of some sort are indeed the future and Tesla are brave for trying, but they've got a long, long way to go.

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Reason for failure?

So Tesla want to argue about the reasons that the car failed? OK, let them. From the point of view of someone who may be interested in buying one (not myself, obviously, but from the point of view of some rich foolish person), Top Gear observed two failures of this machine on the same day. Getting the car "back up and running immediately" is certainly due to a mechanic of some sort being on site. If I bought one of these would I get a mechanic with it, so if a fault occurred they could get it back up and running immediately? Actually, at that price, perhaps they SHOULD...

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Flame

So they deny there was a brake failure...

...by admitting there was a brake failure! LOL! Simple fuse or not, the car failed. End of discussion you PR monkey.

If "Top Gear" did fabricate the section on the car running out of juice, then they deserve to be pilloried. It's one thing to engage in banter/exaggeration in order to make good TV; it's quite another to lie or defame. I guess we shall have to wait and see.

Battery power is crap anyway. Too heavy, takes too long to "fuel", too many resources used in production, too polluting during manufacture, too difficult to recycle (toxic materials). I have read that "ZeroMotorcycles" have a new design of LiOn battery that is more "green", but it still takes a long time to charge.

The only answer is less cars. Really. It is that bloody simple. Less people too. Less people, less cars, less pressure, less pollution, less wars; everything. People should not sprog more than twice - natural wastage will take care of our population over the next few generations and once it has lowered we can maybe get back into some kind of balance.

And this is where the right-wingers say "Oh, but what about the economy?" to which I reply "You can't eat money, can you?"

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Strictly Entertainment

This show is pure entertainment built around the cars. Other than the lap times for the cars and the stars you should not take anything they do at face value. The 'races'? Can't be, standard insurance clauses don't cover racing on public roads.

Not everything they said on the night was internally consistent. For example they talked about one car overheating resulting in a limited speed, yet they showed the car stationary and then pushed it into the hangar. This *might* have been precautionary or it *might* have been because the team are _petrol_ heads not just car heads and they think the image makes for "better television". I suspect this is a case of fear and loathing of non-petrol cars.

What will they do when they get their hands on a Lightning?

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No way!

Clarkson and Top Gear fudging a car test to confirm their pre-existing bias? I don't believe that for a second. They would never stoop so low. Yeah right! They make some great TV but I wouldn't use their car 'reviews' as a basis for a purchase let alone take them as an unbiased examination of the car. Personally I think they should just stick to their stupid stunts and let someone who actually knows about cars do the reviewing.

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Moronic show

Top Gear is a childish shadow of its former self, everything they do is around entertainment, its barely factual at all. Very few production cars are reviewed and compared which cost less than £30k. If I could bring myself to use the phrase, I'd say it has jumped the shark a long time ago.

Its as if they had Jonathon Ross presenting Tomorrow's World.

Give me Fifth Gear these days, or that second hand car show on ITV4 with the fat bloke and the blonde one.

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Tim

Pinch of salt!

I take what Jezza and his cronies say with a pinch of salt. The Tesla is clearly a stepchange in electric vehicles, but it cant be perfect. any car that needs to be recharged for hours when fully run down will always limit what you can do with it. The tesla is fast accellerating, but heavy, and the time around the track shows this.

The "fuse failure" is a problem, as this should not happen. And why WERE there two cars?

I wont be buying a tesla, but not because of the review given by Clarkson. Its because i dont want to spend a hundred grand on a car that saves me a few grand in petrol per year.

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Fuse?

If a simple fuse failure causes the brakes to stop working, you won't find me in one of these cars!

Also, as a journalist, you really should learn the difference between 'brake' and 'break'. It isn't hard.

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Anonymous Coward

only 55 miles

that's not much less than Mr Clarkson got out of the Ford GT on the track ... seem to recall the car stopped out on the track after running out of fuel at around 70 miles ... he'd only been getting 4mpg! (Ford did comment that with more careful driving he could easily achieve 12mpg!)

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Les
Joke

Silly Tesla People

Surely they aren't mistaking a popular comedy show for a serious motoring review thingy?[1] Makes about as much sense as complaining that "Never Mind the Buzzcocks" only has about two music questions per series these days....

[1] If it was a serious motoring review thingy, I wouldn't have the slightest interest in watching it...

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Petrol heads

Seriously, as quick as it is, they're asking £90,000 for something that is potentially explosive (assuming they are using lithium batteries - TG just said it was laptop batteries in there).

To be honest I can't see them taking off that well until the hydrogen fuel cells are made available in larger quantities. Now then I'd be interested (well assuming I could ever afford £90k!).

For now I think I'll stick to my 1.9 205GTI, yes it's old but it's quick enough for me and costs a darn sight less than £90k

Flame icon due to the potentially exploding batteries these cars hold.

Rob

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Ash
IT Angle

Jeremy Clackson causes heat between BBS and demographic / company!

In other news, Pope in Rome still Catholic, water still wet, fire still hot, and battery powered cars still rubbish.

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jon

don't forget

[paraphrase] "obsolete due to hydrogen"

There's an excellent clip of the show on youtube or iplayer for the full thing.

55 miles + 20% = 66 miles, that's not that bad for a car going around a track.

TBH with the next gen batteries, the range and charge limit should be eased significantly. Shame it'll take 3-5 years getting here.

PS. it's "break down" not "brake down"

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Anonymous Coward

Sarcasm, Entertainment, Hyperbole, Irony, Humour - Americans?

Had Top Gear not had Tesla tech support or whatever the web 2.0 version of a mechanic is, they'd have been pushing it along. It's television, of course there's a level of artifice, have you seen the stuff they get up to? It'd be impossible not to.

Tesla are just reeling from critics who haven't just fawned over the holier-than-thou leccy saviour of the world car like all of Tesla's billionaire dicks in California.

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clarkson biased...Hmmmm I wonder!!

Jeremy clarkson is a petrol head, not a leccy head.

Therefore he is going to do everything in his power (the BBC) to bring ANY new automotive technology into disripute.

I have learnt over the years to take any advice from clarkson with a microscopic pinch of salt.

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Happy

<Title>

Whilst I love Top Gear, and find it consistently the funniest program on TV, i do wonder why it's classified under "News & Factual" on the Freeview TV Guide.

btw the Fiesta / Corvette car chase through the shopping centre last week was a classic, bringing back happy memories of The Blues Brothers

Are you the Police

No ma'am, we're musicians...

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Pat

batteries not required

I think we know Clarkson and co well enough to take what they say with a pinch of salt. The wider point they made on the program in which two electric cars got good reviews was that batteries are a dead technology for cars. The Honda with the hydrogen cell seems much more likely to represent the future of driving, and in that view the Tesla is nothing more than a curiosity.

Horse - Coal - Petrol/Diesel - Hydrogen - "Mr Fusion Home Energy Reactor"*

None of the successful solutions involve leaving it plugged in for half a day every couple of hundred miles.

*due 2015.

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Anonymous Coward

What about the tyres

No mention that in the studio it was wearing std road tyres and when in the garage it had stick Yoko 48s. Worth several seconds round the track.

If the R500 had the 48s on it would have been even high.

Entertainment prog not Infotainment.

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Customer service

If this is the level of customer service I would get if I bought one then I think I'll pass. Don't think I would ever be able to convince them the car was broke - so it would end up unused in my garage.

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After all of the problems the BBC has had...

I cant help thinking that Tesla may be the ones telling porkies here, as I don't think the BBC would dare. Itll be interesting to find out, but then I am sure it will just be a pointless argument as noone will be able to prove either way... Unless there is film of the car being pushed off the track in which cas Teslar is fighting a losing battle

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A fair point

It all did seem a bit suspicious, petrolhead Clarkson seemed almost annoyed that there was little to complain about the car when it suddenly was beset by "problems".

Anyway, i would have thought that the James May bit later on, where rechargable cars were rendered obsolete by hydrogen fuelcell tech, did more damage.

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Anonymous Coward

Clarkson is a closet environmentalist..

I'm serious! apart from the biggest / fastest / V8 super-dooper charged cars they feature (which are realistically out of most people who watch the show's budget) Top Gear praises economical cars.

Think about it -

'if it's small and european it's cool' on the cool wall

The bike winning the race across London

The VW blue motion winning the economy race

The star in the reasonably priced car

And the constant slagging off of electric cars - well JC made a really important point - the electricity to charge these vehicles is made from burning coal, which is the most polluting way of generating power. They've even mentioned the nickel in the battery of the Prius - the mine which produces this has caused a lot of pollution in Canada.

I just wish he'd come out the closet...

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Re: 55 Miles.

You actually believe that test was scientific?

Also: Top Gear fabricating test results? Never!

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Coat

typical top gear...

what a retard... so what... maybe the car didn't need to be pushed in to the garage, but all said and done, the car DID have issues, and although they were or may have been fixed on the spot, and they had a working car up and running all day, point one,,, they had two cars.... point two they had a engineer on hand to fix it when it did break...

so for your 90 big ones, if you were to buy a Tesla, is it a BOGOF, and do you get a free engineer to fix it every time it breaks....

saying all that,,,, that honda thing, although it was butt ugly, if the local Morrison's petrol station was to give me a hydrogen pump and price it competitively, eg, the government do not tax it to death, or pull the same stunt they did with diesel (tax breaks on the purchase of the car, then a few years later you have to bend over and take it up the : from Mr brown), then i would have one tomorrow... and save the petrol for the weekends/summer car !!!

mines the one with the 13A extension lead in the pocket...

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Top gear running out of ideas...

Yeah the show content is really weak, so they try to make stuff up - sometimes more so than others, like the other week when they unscrewed the aerial of the Fiat 500 Abarth to try and make a joke for Clarkson, pathetic really.

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Er..

Isn't the Tesla still a prototype?

Didn't Clarkson actually think the car was quite good? (even given his petrol head nature)

Would the BBC dare fake anything in the current climate?

@Nick - er, of course TG is entertainment, based in and around the car world. And top quality entertainment at that. If you want solid facts and reviews, you could watch FG I suppose, but that is pretty dreadful. Or go out and buy Autocar, or Which Car or whatever they are called.

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Anonymous Coward

@AC only 55 miles

The Ford could, however, have been refueled in considerably less than 16 hours.

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a step in the right direction

clearly though the tesla may not take off its a step in the right direction, clearly the tech to make it is feasible if a tad expensive, i did enjoy the section on the Honda though, looks like fuel cell cars are the way forward, i would definitely go for one if the world went in that direction, though there is a distinct lack of

i am however sick and tired of all the bitching about top gear, ok so its slipped off the factual slope and on to the entertaining the masses section, if you dont like it dont watch! its should be clear to most that its not very high brow and is a lot different to the previous one. I for one like it for what it is and dont expect anymore from it. if you want a factual car program watch 5th gear.....

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Brake Failure

I wouldn't worry about the brakes just not working after a blown fuse.

I'm pretty sure that the Tesla has a conventional mechanical / hydraulic braking circuit (It wouldn't be allowed on UK roads without one), but also has regenerative brakes that a) add extra power to the mechanical brakes, and b) recharge the batteries under braking.

With the fuse blown I'm pretty sure that the Tesla would still meet MOT standards for brakes, but they would not have the stopping power of a high-performance part, and that the regenerative charging would not have taken place, reducing the range considerably when being pushed hard.

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Anonymous Coward

Tesla launch has been delayed...

... because they had trouble getting a two speed gear box to work reliably.

I think that says it all.

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Paris Hilton

Brake fade simple fuse issue?????!!!!!

" the cause of the "brake failure" experienced while charging on the first – a simple fuse failure, claims Tesla, fixed there and then"

I can rest assured when im in a ditch having had serious brake fade, car broken to bits, bones shattered ... that the breaks will work again after I change a fuse.

Oh thats all right then.

Paris? Nothing to do with the story, I'd slip her a portion ... but wouldn't want to give her my phone number.

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Hydrogen?

The Tesla pretty much does what it says on the tin, the only snag being that the firebrigade aren't quite sure yet how they are going to deal with a crashed tesla and it's leaking lithium compounds. Or how about a car battery like those self-immolating notebook batteries?

How can Hydrogen be a sensible alternative? Apart from the salient points raised by llewtube about it's production it is an explosive gas that needs to be stored under high pressure, even then only providing a fraction of the energy density of petrol. Fill your hydrogen car today, park it in your garage and leave it for a few weeks and the tank will be near empty, while your garage will be full of hydrogen. Doesnt sound too clever to me. Maybe we could have airships filled with this magical hydrogen - oh wait ......

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Paris Hilton

55 miles -- seems reasonable

Bearing in mind the abysmal MPG the Top Gear guys got from hooning a variety of supercars around the track (in a previous episode of TG -- check Dave on Sky at any point today to catch it), 55 miles for the Teslar seems pretty reasonable.

Paris, 'cos she's got a bit of mileage.

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I'm confused

The Honda FCX website shows the future. The hydrogen being produced in the home from their natural gas powered unit (which also powers the rest of the home).

So instead of geting leccy from renewable & non-CO2 generated sources - which is the way we are supposed to be going. We are supposed to switch back to a fossil source!

This is crazy and not the future, cos if it is - there will be no future for many of us.

Treehuggers should hug Teslas - not Hondas!

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Brake failure

Catastrophic and lethal. Even the old Citroens (up to Xantia) which had a hydraulic system for suspension and brakes had a failsafe for a few emergency stops in case of failure.

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Anonymous Coward

A pretty positive review...

The episode was very favourable to electric cars in general, with the caveat that the electricity still comes from (mainly) dirty power sources. The tesla came over as a very fast and interesting track toy, in the same league as the other track only toys that they test. It was the 'tomorrows world' of cars rather than a mainstream option, something highlighted by the honda that May tested.

Electric cars are coming on, they are definitely getting there, but they are also definitely not _there yet_. If you take the performance of the tesla with the fuel cell tech of the honda you will have a desirable car, and in the mean time if you want a toy for the track use the tesla and if you want a day to day runaround (hydrogen pumps allowing) use the honda.

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