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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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    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).

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    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.

  3. David

    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.

  4. Jon Hume
    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!

  5. Paul

    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.

  6. Emmett Jenner
    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.

  7. Greg

    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.

  8. Eponymous Cowherd
    Joke

    The Beeb faking something.....

    Scandalous accusation! Unheard of!!!

    Oh, wait.....

  9. Mick Sheppard

    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.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  11. chris
    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.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    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...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    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'

  14. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  15. Andrew A

    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...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    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?"

  17. Gulfie
    Alert

    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?

  18. Leigh Smith

    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.

  19. Nick
    Thumb Down

    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.

  20. 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.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    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.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    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!)

  23. 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...

  24. Rob Beard
    Flame

    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

  25. 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.

  26. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  27. 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"

  28. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  29. jason eariss

    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.

  30. Alan
    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...

  31. 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.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  33. Stephen Hunt
    Thumb Down

    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.

  34. Paul

    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

  35. Joe K

    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.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    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...

  37. Lindsay Silver badge

    Re: 55 Miles.

    You actually believe that test was scientific?

    Also: Top Gear fabricating test results? Never!

  38. Anonymous Coward
    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...

  39. Paul

    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.

  40. James Hughes

    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.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC only 55 miles

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

  42. Yorkshirepudding
    Alert

    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.....

  43. Shady
    Stop

    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.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  45. Monty Burns
    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.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    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 ......

  47. RichyS
    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.

  48. Stuart
    Alert

    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!

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    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.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  51. Martin Saunders
    Thumb Down

    All that money...

    ..and it's still way slower than a Caterham R500. I know what I'd rather have..

  52. Richard Cross
    Flame

    Top Gear "Fuel Cell is the Answer"

    I wondered to myself, if a car has got a less than 250mile range of hydrogen to supply the fuel cell... would you be about 250 miles away from the nearest hydrogen filling station when you ran out of fuel?

    I have my doubts that it will be easily possible to build a hydrogen re-filling infrastructure anytime soon (say by 2020 or 2030?!). Then there's that whole Zeppelin tendency that hydrogen has and remember, the only way to get range out of hydrogen is to put it under some serious pressure.... which of course, exacerbates it's tendency to run away a bit.

    Seems to me that it is highly logical to pursue the middle path, which is a combination of motors that can operate in a highly efficient and optimised manner. Combustion engine for crusing over long distances. Electric motor for the stop and start of urban chicanery. Call it a hybrid solution. Oh wait a minute....

    The French gov't have spiked a report in Sept.08 which pretty much came to this same conclusion in a much more studied way than Top Gear would ever do.

    Flame symbol, 'cos that's when hydrogen is happiest.

  53. Mike Fortey
    Joke

    *froth*

    "Seriously, as quick as it is, they're asking £90,000 for something that is potentially explosive "

    Because Hydrogen and petrol are perfectly safe in comparison?

    *raises eyebrows*

    As for being 'obsolete'; well, not really. Any of us could buy an electric car today, plug it in and use it ahppily for the next 10 years. Do you actually think you'll be easily able to obtain H2 at the pumps for five years? H2 is a future technology that isn't viable at present. Electric vehicles are still pretty much demonstrators, but at least they're ten years ahead of the game.

    For 90k it might be out of our price range, but maybe that's not where it's aimed. LA rages about the Prius as the cool car to own if you want to try to feel less guilty about being a planet-wrecking capitalist pig. The Tesla does the same thing but doesn't look like a brick, and drives fast in a straight line for 1/4 of a mile (the only performance indicator other than HP that matters to US petrol heads). And the cost differential between a Prius and a Tesla is laughable to anyone in Hollywood anyhow. And those people ahving these cars is a GOOD thing: They're rolemodels, regardless of if we like it or not. By encouraging them to drive electric, we're encouraging a lot of others to do so, too.

    Erm... final point: A lot of tech heads on here have frothed about how dangerous it is for a burned out fuse to cause brake failure. For all we know, it might have failed safe. How about we don't jump the gun? Anyhow, it's just as unsafe as the problems that a simple fuse or electrical failure in your ICE can cause. There's a lot more breakable componants in a conventional braking system, too.

  54. Warhelmet

    Last of The Summer Wine

    @AC - you hit the nail right on the head. Bathtubs, yes. Top Gear is just Antiques Roadshow or Last of The Summer for a certain type of middle aged man. I find it totally incomprehensible.

    William Woollard - we need you now.

  55. spegru
    Go

    Some things not surprising

    That the range was so short under track conditions

    Nor that the motor overheated

    Doesnt mean the thing is no good for the real world

    However for all the expectations of electric car bashing they did show that the lap time was about the same as a 911GT3 and that on tyres chosen 'for rolling resistance, not grip'

    One little point was that JC complained about noise! This is basically an elise, so what's the main difference? of course the missing engine noise, that makes the wind noise more noticeable.

    Mind you that price really is crazy

    How much for that fuel cell car I wonder

  56. Phil Clemow

    Hydrogen Cars? Come off it!

    Find me a good way to get hold of hydrogen cheaply and easily, store it and transport it and maybe ... maybe I'll accept the fuel cell car

    Until that time, why dont we work on batteries, make them charge faster, that being the only real failing of the battery car.

    As for top gear ... clarkson was pretty encouraging on the tesla, he was no more negative than any car hes put in ... he ALWAYS finds some fault, in a porsche, a ferrari, whatever.

  57. Gulfie
    Stop

    Not Buying. At any price. Seasickness

    Did you see the body roll on that thing? Terrible! Never mind £90k, I wouldn't buy it for £900!

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Generation Duh!

    Electricity is not made by "burning coal"; the great advantage of electric cars is that the electricity is made by "doing something" at a central station. That MAY be burning coal, or it may be catching the wind or letting water fall over a turbine or putting something out in the sun. The ability to switch your generation method to the best available at the moment is very important.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Why were there two cars?

    There's always two cars.

    @Lindsay

    >Re: 55 Miles.

    >You actually believe that test was scientific?

    I wasn't making any great "science" point, simply observing that they got the same range from other cars on the track.

    Besides, all experimentation is "scientific", you mean it's a flawed test.

  60. David Cullen
    Go

    Dave

    I also saw the Top Gear program with the tesla and the honda Clarity. Its a shame that they have finally made an electric car that seems to work well and already its obsolete. I've been following the news on the Honda Clarity for a few months now and the way honda are selling the product with the Home Fill Up station you can also say good bye to the petrol station for good. I cant wait until the Honda comes into the UK and I can have a test drive.

  61. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
    IT Angle

    What's wrong with two...?

    "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."

    Dave

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

    Tim

    I can't see why people are worried about a company providing two cars. It's expensive to set up a filming day. All you need is for one car to have an accident, even a minor mishap like a puncture, and your filming schedule goes to pot. What would have happened if they had brought just one Tesla, unloaded it, and someone had run a fork-lift truck into it?

    It's a perfectly reasonable precaution to take.

    Mind you, hydrogen kicks ass...

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @Nick "Moronic Show"

    Seriously get a grip. If I want factual information I'll go test it for myself.

    The majority of people watching TG are more than likely there for some entertainment not an impartial review of a car. Furthermore a tiny proportion of watchers will ever be able to afford half the cars they test.

    As for 5th gear being better...why do you need to throw a car around a circuit to see how well it goes to the shops..and wasn't it 5th gear that had a caravan+car jumping record.

    I'll be test driving cars that suit my fat arse not Richard Hammonds frame.

    Paris, because even she knows TG is about entertainment.

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: 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."

    Oh come on! Next week we'll be hearing about another Blue Peter pet - not the actual one, but one brought in surreptitiously under "unusual circumstances" - snorting white powder off a backstage mirror under a pseudonym supposedly chosen by viewers in a phone-in but actually chosen by the production company during a party involving champagne, escorts and farm animals. But since the government pulls all the strings at the Beeb, sad faces will be made and everyone will be off the hook within days.

  64. Wize

    Ok, it didnt get below 20% but...

    ...at some point it would. And have to be pushed back.

    Any car would run out too.

    But the point they are proving is that any other car could have a top up of juice from a can and be off and running again.

    These things had to be taken back, not under their own power, and be charged for a long time before they go again.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Joe K

    "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"."

    If you think this is suspicous then I suspect you have paid very little attention to Clarkson's output in the past. He has a few standard formats to his car reviews. Two in particular come to mind. One is to start by heaping praise on the car and then bring in the negatives afterwards, ending with an overall thumbs down. The other is to start by damning the car and then suddenly switch to praise, ending on a high.

    Clarkson is almost unique among motoring writers in spotting that the choice of car we buy is not made on the same rational basis as, say, the choice of a washing machine. As such he will often damn a car only to say at the end of the review that he loved it. The thing is that most people these days do see a car as white goods and don't actually derive any enjoyment from driving it at all. Quite appart from the comedy/entertainment aspect of TG Clarkson understands that a driver's car is not necessailly the best handling or fastest car on the showroom floor, but the the most enjoyable and satisfying to drive. Which is why to a driver (rather than a motorist) an Alfa is usually a "better" car than the equivalent BMW. Even if the BMW is faster, better handling, better built and better specced. A "motorist" would choose the BMW every time, but then "motorists" are incredibly tedious people.

    Getting back to the Tesla, conveying certain things with the written word would be easy. Conveying, or at least, empasising that the car broke downthrough a visiual medium is best achieved by showing the car being pushed. It may not be what happened in reality, but then, in reality, you don't have a mechanic on hand. So the program may not have conveyed what actually happened, but then Tesla supplied two cars and support staff and as such were party to a deception. It was not a "real world" test. After all, as has been mentioned, a Tesla owner wouldn't have a support techician following them around the country. I'm willing to bet that, had the test gone well Tesla would not have told everybody they had technicians on site looking after the car. They were forced to do so by the fact that they didn't like the review.

    If they were so confident of the car's ability why supply two cars and a mechanic? The very fact that they did so suggests to me that they were expecting the cars to go wrong in some way. It's just surprising that they are kicking up a fuss about the fact that TG reported it when it did.

  66. Andy
    Go

    to be honest

    i was pleasantly surprised by the positivness of Clarkson's review, and i didn't feel there was any undertone of "i hate this because it's electric".

    the ge-wizz got the "i hate this because its crap" and rightly so. nothing to do with the power plant. the ge-wizz got slated because a mobility scooter has more go in it.

    Tesla.

    Fast - yes, even with half ton of battery.

    Handling - let down by half ton of battery.

    Range - let down by half ton of battery.

    Noisy - lots of road /wind noise.

    Range - battery not enough.

    Fun - yes. just needs to loose the half ton of battery and go hydrogen fuel cell.

    i like the idea of regerative braking, but it sounded like their implementation was an all or nothing approach. not the progressive braking in "normal" cars.

    they admitted to having problems as the two speed gearbox and locked it down to one. so from tesla's point of view it was definatly a proof of concept, and not really the finished showroom product. thats what i can guess as to why they had two there in the first place in case one went pop? its not like you can pop down your local tesla garage and take one for a test drive. these things were probably negotiated over, shipped across, fettled and honed. then one then still goes and blows its fuses.

    As for the Honda. well, if they were only petrol heads, then this wouldn't have even got a mention. as it was, James flew over there, found out about it, drove it, and i personally, wouldn't have heard about it otherwise.

    "GO" icon for Top Gear.

  67. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

    Can I have

    A Tesla with the fuel cell arrangement.

    Assuming that the Hydrogen tank (read very very explosive) and fuel cell weigh less than the batteries then the Elecy Elise would be even more stonking.

    As others have said, 55miles on a track ain't bad going. When I go on track days I go to the petrol station before starting, at lunch time and before driving home in the evening and I'm not going as hard as the TG boys do.

    Lots of SuperCars break, look back at the reports of JCs Ford or the Aston that took weeks to go round the track. Never stopped anyone buying them.

    I thought the boys liked it.

    At least it's an attempt to make Electric Cars interesting. Far better than the normal hybrid monster trucks you see driving around. Lets put an electric motor and batteries as well as a big engine into an already over weight lardy arsed Chelsea tractor so we can claim to be green.

    Hybrids are a solution to a different problem. As a solution to local air pollution (90s environmentalism) they are a great solution by letting you trickle through traffic jams without running an internal combustion engine and emitting local pollutants.

    Not sure whether the Tesla is going to be environmentally friendly, what is the carbon foot print of the battery systems like?

  68. Robert Grant

    Re: crap about electric/hydrogen-fueled cars using fossil-fuel-generated electricity:

    The point isn't that electricity is generated in a polluting way, it's that once you've moved your cars to a fuel that either is electricity, or needs it to generate said fuel, then you can make your electricity generation more efficient.

    You decouple fossil fuel from vehicle, and you can eventually swap it out completely.

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Truth, The Whole Truth and Nothing But The Truth?

    Tesla are accusing TG of not telling the truth, but are Tesla giving us the whole picture. They say that the cars never got below 20% battery capacity, but they don't mention the mileage. What if they were at 20% capacity at 44 miles? Suddenly Top Gear's portayal of the car conking out at 55 miles becomes, while not actually a video record of a real event, a representation of what would have happened 11 miles later.

    Are Tesla going to give us the whole story? If not then I will assume that the above is what really happened.

    I'm also willing to bet that Tesla recommended they don't run the batteries flat, on the grounds that this could cause damage. Fair enough, it can. However it would also have saved Tesla from the airing of any embarassing footage of the car conking out with a flat battery. The fact that TG simulated this is neither here nor there. They did it with Clarkson's beloved Ford GT so the leccy fans can hardly scream "bias".

  70. R Callan

    @Gulfie

    Jezza had a Lightning, but the local council complained and he had to get rid of it. Admittedly he never used it, but it did look spectacular in his front yard, as long as you disregard the ruts that the tyres made in the lawn.

    I wonder if his Lightning was "leccy", it was made by English Electric :-)

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Top Gear / Jeremy Carkson

    Top Gear is very a funny program, at least as far as I am concerned.

    However anyone who believes anything that JC says is an idiot. In fact if there is anyone out there that believes JC then I have some magic beans for sale, only £2 million each.

  72. Francis Irving
    Go

    Four things about electric cars

    The lack of basic knowledge about electric vs. hydrogen in the comments above is astonishing.

    1. You don't have to wait for battery cars to recharge, you hot swap the batteries at the filling station.

    2. Recharging at home / the office is an EXTRA BONUS that saves you lots of things, including the hassle of going to the petrol station during the daily grind of commute.

    3. Hydrogen cars are ludicrously expensive to refuel compared to electric. How the same people who moan about petrol prices can even countenance hydrogen astonishes me.

    4. Not one, not two but THREE countries (Israel, Australia and Denmark) and TWO United States (California and Hawaii) are changing to electric cars. Nowhere is changing to hydrogen cars.

    Sure, I want to see this argument electric vs. hydrogen, it's an important one. But please, actually talk about the advantages/disadvantages properly rather than ignoring major, basic features of the two technologies.

  73. janimal
    Flame

    @Petrol Heads

    Rob beard said...

    >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)

    er.. so petrol and hydrogen aren't explosive then?

    Mine's the one with the volatile chemical symbol on the back

  74. Martin Lyne

    Er..

    Hydrogen is great, assuming you could get the electricity-hydrogen conversion efficiency up, and we had safe means of transporting it en masse.

    It's not like electricty is already piped all over the world and new battery technology allows for faster recharging and you can reclaim energy dynamatially whilst driving, is it? Oh wait..

    Hydrogen is a waste of time without a green way of making electricity, even then it's still a PITA to make and move. Batteries can be made robust easily. Any super-safe hydrogen transportation (new carbon nanotube hydrogen-sequestration things look cool) is going to be heavy, wheras batteries will be getting lighter and/or more capacious.

    Diversity is good, having to build new worldwide infrastructure for hydrogen is fucking stupid.

    Storage + infrastructure + generation for hydrogen.

    Storage + improvement on existing infrastructure + already-required-generation for electric.

    If they make tiny, high efficiency coverters I'll gladly retract my criticism. High being equal or greater than transporting electrictiy and storing it in LiIon or modern equivalents.

  75. Tim Hughes
    Flame

    Why so anti?

    1) Tesla is in production, but with a single speed box. Two different gearbox manufacturers produced 2-speed boxes that couldn't actually handle the peak torque reliably, so it went into production locked in one gear (boxes to be replaced free when new version is out).

    2) Honda FCX clarity = sort of prototype. Only available in N. California on a lease basis. You can't buy one.

    3) Brake failure = brake regeneration failure. Not good, but not as some suggest here.

    4) Top Gear made no mention of cost of Honda - because you can't buy one! You can only lease one for 3 years - rumour has it that it has cost Honda around $0.5 million per car, and the leasing means you will never know how durable the fuel cells are. Tesla is selling cars to attempt to make a profit.

    5) US official economy figures show that the well-to-wheel fuel efficiency of the Honda FCX Clarity is worse than a Diesel VW Jetta. If you use electrolysis (as suggested) to create hydrogen, then it is worse than a Porsche 911. Car of the future? Hmmm.

  76. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    @Rob Beard

    If you think lithium batteries are dangerous, just look at what can be achieved with a bottle of petrol - let alone a whole tank. Hydrogen can be even more exciting as most people are not familiar with the required handling precautions.

    (The best way to power electric vehicles is with overhead wires ;-)

  77. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hydrogen Fuel Cells and The Environment

    Hoepfully everybody knows the environmental issues with battery powered cars (i.e. the method of power generation and the environmental impact of the manufacture and disposal of the batteries), but what about the impact of hydrogren fuel cells.

    The hydrogen has to be produced somehow and the popular way is processing water using electricity as a power source, which is generated how? Isn't water a precious resource that we are not supposed to waste? Then there is the exhaust. Water vapour is a greenhouse gas. OK so it doesn't hang around in the atmosphere for as long as CO2, but how does it leave the atmosphere? So if all the cars in the world ran on hydrogen how would all that exhaust affect the climate. It would get warmer and wetter. Oh good. That will save the planet won't it?

    There is however a simple solution to the exhaust and wasted water problems. Rather than vent the water vapour to the atmosphere, condense it and store it in a tank to be reused. OK so the the car would get heavier the more fuel you used, but it would be a lot better for the environment. If, however, you were to seperate water into it's constituent parts and carry both of them onboard the weight of the car would not change appreciably during a journey. However it would require a bigger car, needing space for tanks for hydrogen, oxygen and water.

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    STFU Tesla boys, you are missing the point

    I watched this episode and really got the overall impression that the Top Gear boys were impressed with the Tesla - it's a relatively new production technology so it's bound to have a few bugs to iron out and improve upon - I'm sure the early petrol engined cars weren't perfect straight away either. The Tesla lap time was up there with a Porsche 911, which I thought was impressive as well. Did the car *need* to be pushed, dunno, and to be honest, don't really care - Top Gear is about cars, and having a bit of a laugh, so thats what you expect - and that's what you get. Tesla should STFU and be happy with the relatively rosy review they got.

  79. boingo
    Thumb Down

    Hyrdogen - you have to be kidding?

    If anyone is deluded enough to think hydrogen cars will be a reality any time soon Im amazed.

    Ask yourself... where does hydrogen come from? Secondly how efficient (in terms of energy lost) is the production of hydrogen?

    Then go look up "Better Place" - thats the future and its starting to role out now in Israel, Denmark, California and Australia.

    Cheap leccy cars with mobile phone style usage contracts with 1000s of battery exchange and/or charge points.

    FWIW Telly people are terrible at mucking stuff up. I saw Robot Wars being filmed and they had their favourites (eg Razor) and their "Fodder". If you weren't one of the "old boys" you got your robot shredded. TG is probably just the same.

  80. Michael B.

    Truth is somewhere in the middle.

    I've just read the missive from the Tesla corporate communications Manager and there is a slight inconsistency that the article above doesn't mention. The quote about the fuse is:

    "The “brake failure” Clarkson mentions was solely a blown fuse; a service technician replaced the Roadster’s pump and it was back up and running immediately."

    Note the fuse was blown and the technician replaced a pump. Either the Corporate Communications Manager mistyped (which she shouldn't since it's her job), she is taking a bit of TG artistic license here, or the Tesla is seriously flaky and a blown fuse destroys one of the pumps. For Tesla Roadster Owners' sake I hope she is just bad at her job.

  81. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pushing the car by hand..

    at no point did a car fail in such a way that it needed to be pushed..

    So a break failure, doesnt stop you driving it, true, but to be fair I would push a car by hand i fit had no breaks! Tesla Need to get over it!

    better LiPo Batteries, and a hydrogen fuel cell for recharge would be ideal.

    I do not like the idea of just electric or just fuel cell, a bit of both would suit me best.

  82. Gwilym Smith

    Speaking of fuel cells...

    Why aren't we looking into direct methanol fuel cells for our automotive needs?

    I know that methanol isn't good for you, but then again, petrol isn't exactly part of a healthy breakfast.

    It wouldn't be that difficult to alter the infrastructure from petrol/diesel to methanol and we wouldn't have the issues with compressed hydrogen.

  83. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    eh!?

    But didnt TopGear win an American TV Industry Award for the "Best "Unscripted Comedy Program"....., not for the "Most Authoritative and Factual Motor Industry" program?

    Had Teslas PR people never seen an episode of TopGear? Or are there some people out their still believe the old BBC "speaking nation unto nation"?

  84. Perpetual Cyclist

    A quote I've used before...

    Hydrogen is a bad answer to the wrong question.

    In addition to all the other problems not mentioned in TG but listed by posters here, the main source of hydrogen today is - (fossil) natural gas, and it's production generates just as much if not more CO2 than driving a petrol car.

    Also, fuel cell cars are never going to be cheaper than electric ones, as long as they use large quantities of platinumn in the fuel cell. Platinumn is more expensive and a lot rarer than gold, and there is not enough of the stuff on the planet to replace a fraction of the cars we currently have.

  85. Carniphage
    Alert

    Hydrogen Vs. Battery

    Battery and Hydrogen are both "electric". Except in the case of Hydrogen, you have to turn electricity into a pressurized gas and then turn it back again. It makes it about 4 times less efficient. For the same amount of money - you can go 4 times the distance with batteries.

    The big downside with batteries is charging time. You can fill up a tank with petrol or hydrogen in a few minutes. To fill up a battery takes a few hours.

    There's no perfect solution. But don't worry. It's Peak Oil in 2020. After that, we'll all be raising sheep and shooting things with arrows.

  86. Danny
    Thumb Up

    Did people watch the same show?

    I saw Clarkson eating humble pie. After many years of shouting how electric cars will never be as good as petrol and laughing at earlier attempts that struggled to get up hills, he seemed very impressed. Especially with the comment about it snowing in hell. As other people have pointed the mileage was comparable to other supercars but I don't know where the 16 hours charge time came from. I was watching batteries not included and they had John Cleese test it with one of the owners of the company and the owner said it was a 4 hour charge time. But James May piece on the Honda was right. To go to a system other than being to refuel quickly while anywhere was spot on and for that reason, the fuel cell has already made battery technology obsolete. I am sure it wouldn't take tesla to long to adapt their cars to fuel cell technology and once you lose the 1/2 ton weight from the batteries, just think how much the performance would improve.

  87. The elephant in the room
    Stop

    Green hydrogen?

    Straying off topic due to the whole is the Tesla a white elephant & the Insight the Jesus car debate, I wonder how much energy is required to create & distribute liquid hydrogen (even pretending for a second that it is made on the same scale as petrol & every fuel station has hydrogen pumps) compared to creating & distributing petrol.

    Just because burning it only creates water doesnt mean that it is more energy-efficient and objectively better for the environment than petrol.

    I must say the refuelling of the Insight was the slickest hydrogen fuelling I've seen - no bulky cryogenic piping covered in ice or giving off clouds of gas, but I am still unconvinced that it is THE FUTURE.

    If I had the money and the brains to engage in heavyweight R&D I'd investigate a petrol fuel cell. It would strip the hydrogen off the octane & burn it in the same way as the Insight's cell does. The carbon-rich tar residue left behind would be sucked out by the pump at the same time as the tank is filled with petrol. The tar would be collected & used as a plastics industry feedstock or power station fuel (which would give off CO2, but at least you'd have powered the car without having done so).

    I'd also look at batteries where flat electrolyte could be sucked out and replaced by charged electrolyte at the fuel station. The flat electrolyte would be trickle charged by solar & cheap-rate electricity, then pumped into the next customer's care when charged. Over-capacity at the filling stration could be fed into the national grid, and indeed the national network of filling stations could function as emergency battery-backup to the whole grid.

  88. boingo
    Stop

    Peak Oil

    One of the more successful rulers in the Middle East, Sheikh Rashid was responsible for the transformation of Dubai into a modern port city and commercial hub. His famous line,

    "My grandfather rode a camel, my father rode a camel, I drive a Mercedes, my son drives a Land Rover, his son will drive a Land Rover, but his son will ride a camel."

    reflects his concern that Dubai's oil will run out in a decade or two.

  89. David Kelly

    Why two cars?

    Why are so many people surprised that there were two cars? There have been numerous Top Gear episodes where two of the same petrol powered car were used, which you might notice if you pay a bit of attention !

  90. Frank Bough
    Alert

    Tesla Flawed but...

    ...I still can't quite believe that Top Gear fell for the old hydrogen-fuel-cell routine. James May should hang his head in shame. How much does the Honda FCX Clarity cost, James? Sorry, sir, I'm afraid this model is not currently for sale to the general public... and if it were it would cost 3 fucking million dollars. The Tesla is a real-world step forward. We understand that batteries need recharging, we could get used to that; we understand that batteries have a lower energy density than petrol or Diesel fuel, we can engineer our way around those constraints; but don't tell us that battery powered cars won't work, because we've seen them with our own eyes and we're not quite as stupid as you're banking on us being.

  91. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    Power lead across the road

    And another thing... it's all well and good having a leccy motor.

    But charging it overnight assumes that you have been able to obtain a mortgage to purchase a nice house in the Cotswolds with a large garage with an industrial power socket.

    Some nights I can't get parked anywhere near my door, never mind running a power lead around the street for someone to trip over & sue / vandalise & destroy / plug into their battery powered car.

    The issue with hydrogen is the electrolysis required to get the stuff in the first place. Which comes from electricity. Which is generated by big dirty coal fired generators. And the demand needs to increase before your local station will stock it. I live in a smallish city, but within a 5 mile radius only 1 station supplies LPG.

    As for the Hindenburg rear impact argument, how much worse can a tank full of hydrogen be to a tank full of flammable liquid?

  92. David
    Black Helicopters

    Why Tesla will have the last laugh

    Carniphage sums up the problem with hydrogen really well. It has to go through two more conversion processes and that soaks up 4 times more electricity as just charging a battery.

    Battery cars will beat hydrogen in one of two ways:

    1) Rapid recharging - either by swapping out the battery or through high-power chargers. Both are going to happen in the near future and rapid rechargers can be installed anywhere there is three-phase power. Own a shop or restaurant and want a nice little side line? Then charge people a fiver to top up their car while they eat your food or browse your products. It's completely independent of the oil companies - which has to be a good thing. As someone said above, Google for GT Lightning.

    2) Battery capacity - when batteries reach the level when they will go further in a day than you can sensibly drive, then the whole argument about speed of charging goes out the window - just do it overnight.

    The Asus eePC already has batteries that are a generation beyond the Tesla's. They store 2.9Ah vs 2.2Ah. Panasonic are about to start selling batteries that are even better again - 3.6Ah. So we've gone from 2.2 to 3.6 Ah in the space of a couple of years and that directly translates into two-thirds more range. The genius of the Tesla design is that they can use of-the-shelf laptop batteries that will keep getting better as the IT industry improves them. Expect the 2010 Tesla to include better batteries.

    Still think hydrogen in every filling station will happen first? I don't, and I will put my money where my mouth is when Tesla release their four door.

    Why the black helicopters? Because this is the idea that George Bush and his mates don't want you to know, people, and they use their state-run broadcasters to dangle the hydrogen carrot again and again.

  93. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Top Gear Not For Serious Reviews of Anything. Especially cars.

    Its best to take Top Gear reviews with a pinch of salt.

    For example on their website they give the 470bhp Nissan GTR 10/20 for performance!

    http://www.topgear.com/uk/nissan/gtr

    SUVs on their site rate higher than this.

    Its more of a blokey entertainment show than a show about cars.

  94. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @All the battery supporters

    Hydrogen may be the only option due to its abundance, we just need to develop it better. If you really think batteries are the way to go, I suggest you look at the research that has been done estimating how much lithium would be required to replace most of the petrol cars currently running. Then look at how much estimated lithium the world has in known deposits. The sums don't add up by a big margin. Lithium is quite rare and we have no way of synthesizing it, so just like oil when its gone - its gone.

  95. David
    Black Helicopters

    Why Tesla will win

    Carniphage sums up the problem with hydrogen really well. It has to go through two more conversion processes. This uses 4 times the electricity.

    Battery cars will beat hydrogen in one of two ways:

    1) Rapid recharging - either by swapping out the battery or through high-power chargers. Both are going to happen in the near future and rapid rechargers can be installed anywhere there is three-phase power. Own a shop or restaurant and want a nice little side line? Then charge people a fiver to top up their car while they eat your food or browse your products. It's completely independent of the oil companies - which has to be a good thing.

    2) Battery capacity - when batteries reach the level when they will go further in a day than you can sensibly drive, then the whole argument about speed of charging goes out the window - do it overnight.

    The Asus eePC already has batteries that are a generation beyond the Tesla's. They store 2.9Ah vs 2.2Ah. Panasonic are about to start selling batteries that are even better again - 3.6Ah. So we've gone from 2.2 to 3.6 Ah in the space of a couple of years and that directly translates into two-thirds more range. The genius of the Tesla design is that they can use of-the-shelf laptop batteries that will keep getting better as the IT industry improves them.

    Still think hydrogen in every filling station will happen first? I don't, and I will put my money where my mouth is when Tesla release their 4 door.

    Why the black helicopters? Because this is the idea that They don't want you to know, people.

  96. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    The Americans...

    The americans were right when they decided the London congestion 'charge' was for all intents and purposes a tax (and therefore decided their diplomats didn't need to pay it), and they were right when they decided that Top Gear was an entertainment show and therefore their existing visas weren't valid.

    I like Top Gear but when you see them playing skittles with caravans or jumping over some cars in an Allegro or even the strange decisions they make for the cool wall, you have to wonder how truthful their reviews are.

    They clearly dislikecertain cars and manufacturers and I'm often left wondering if the summary of their review is based on how much they like people from those companies.

  97. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Martin Lyne

    Martin, we simply do not have the infrastructure to fast charge a whole load of battery powered electric cars. To charge a battery powered car as fast as you currently fill a fuel tank would require a massive current.

    The increased load on the grid would be potentially enormous. How many cars accross the country are currently being filled at any given time? Multiply that by the current draw of a single car being charged in five minutes. Then consider how much we would need to spend upgrading power distribution to cope with it. There is little doubt that every filling, sorry charging, station would need it's own substation, possibly quite a substantial one. Then of course they would need the feed off the grid for that substation.

    All of that doesn't even address the issue of the cable needed to plug the car in. You probably wouldn't be able to lift it. Then of course there is the cabling from the charging point to the batteries. It would probably have to be much thicker than it is now to carry the extra current. Then the batteries might need to be chunkier too. So you would be adding weight, which would of course reduce the range and increase wear and tear on the running gear.

    The whole argument around any alternative fuel source for vehicles is massively complex, being a morass of relative pros and cons. Chucking around simplistic glib statements helps nobody.

    Politicians like things to be simplistic, hence their wholesale adoption of virtually any alternative, be it the apparently now out of favour bio fuels, battery cars or their current darling the hydrogen fuel cells. All of them introduce as many problems as they solve, most of which centre around the supporting infrastructure. Any fool could have forseen the problems caused by biofuels, but the politicians and money men missed them. You'd expect the tefal heads to miss them, because they are very focused and can't see the big picture.

    One thing that is important is that a conclusion is reached on the way forward. It would be incredibly wasteful to start on a number of different infrastructures only for one to be finally proved the "best", thus rendering the others obsolete. Betamax may well have been technically better than VHS, but how much Betamax gear was replaced by VHS? The waste of money and resources are something the world economy and envirnment could well do without.

    Another issue is that of taxation. Supporters of every alternative may trumpet it's cheapness as a major plus point, but we must bear in mind the loss of tax revenue should petrol and diesel be supplanted. What will governments do to make up the shortfall? They will of course tax the alternatives. Politicians may like portray high fuel taxes as "green" taxes, but they are simply taxes.

  98. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Typical Mechanic

    It was a fuse that blew, but the mechanic replaced the pump? Or maybe he just cleaned the pump andcharged them for a new one.

    I bet he did that reverse whistling thing first and said "Which cowboy fitted this?" or "You just can't get the parts for these Teslas."

  99. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @hot swap batteries?!

    Yes, that's going to work. Until more than three people have battery-powered cars and every "filling station" has to stock 3,000,000 charged and uncharged batteries somewhere.

  100. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @David Kelly

    David, I clearly pay more attention than you. The reason two cars are often seen is because things aren't necessarilly filmed on the same day. The filmed test, The Stig's lap and the studio shots may be many weeks appart. The same car may well not be available for two seperate shoots.

    There have been many cases where the car has had to be repaired between sessions. Did you see the recent Zonda test? They didn't turn up with two cars for that, even though supercars are notoriously unreliable. Two cars or one car and a mechanic could be considered prudent, two cars AND a mechanic smacks of a lack of confidence in your own product.

    However they big issue is not so much that they did turn up so equipped, but that they did so and then accused the BBC of fiddling with reality. "Mr Kettle? I've got Mr Pot on line two for you."

  101. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
    Go

    Its an interesting car, but Top Gear failed...

    As it has been pointed out, Top Gear took several super cars and went and ran them on the track with 1 gallon of fuel to see how far they would go.

    Tesla is a brand new car and its still in early production.

    There are a lot of things 'wrong' with the car that will be fixed in future generations.

    When TopGear tests a car on their track, they are hard on the machine. Tesla wasn't really designed for that sort of abuse. (Driving down the street or the 101 isn't going to deliver that sort of punishment.) Don't blame Telsa if they get worried about negative spin. They are in a crucial period where they're selling because of their novelty and not their reliability or overall performance.

    In all electric cars, battery weight and capacity will be an issue until there are improvements in battery tech. Of course this will hurt performance.

    Tesla also made a decision to use a singe engine and a power train to the wheels. Other cars have the motors in the wheels and no power train. It would have been interesting to see Top Gear show both on the track. (The one sports car that competes with Tesla is British so I don't know why they didn't do this.)

    As some point to Hydrogen, its not a simple thing to try and create a hydrogen infrastructure. How do you make, store, handle hydrogen on a commercial scale? (Hint: Relying on solar to split water in to O2 and H on demand won't cut it.)

    But why doesn't TopGear do an all electric show?

    They could have some fun with it too.

  102. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Won't somebody PLEASE think of the environment.

    Battery power, hydrogen power, compressed air (yes really) and all the rest have one unavoidable thing in common. The source of their power.

    Development of alternative sources of motive power is all well and good, but the power that is stored in the car in batteries, hydrogen, air tanks or wherever has to come from somewhere.

    At the moment is mainly comes from burning fossil fuels or from nuclear power. We all know that burning fossil fuels is bad, otherwise why do we need electric cars? The world still thinks that Noo-Clee-Ah power is a very bad thing and the policticos will have an uphill struggle convincing the voters otherwise.

    Those fans of wind power seem to ignore the inconvenient fact that we will need a huge portion of the earth's surface covered in turbines to make it practical. Don't forget that at any given time only some of them will be receiving useful wind. And of course countries with access to a lot of wind will be able to sell their excess power to becalmed countries. Do we really want to create a system where "wind rich" countries have a hold over other countries?

    Wave power? Well there is the political power issue. Landlocked countries will be in debt to those with a long ocean coastline. And nobody has done any serious research into the potential damage to the environment caused by stealing all the power from the waves.

    Hydroelectric dams, they're good for the environment right? Don't be so sure. The Colorado reaches the sea as a muddy little stream because so much of it evapourates from the many reservoirs along it's course. How does that affect the environment? Again no serious studies have been carried out.

    What we actually need is for all the cash being pumped into the development of alternative power for cars to be diverted into the development of alternative sources of electricity generation. Once we have clean electricity the power source for cars can be our next concern.

  103. Robert Shaw
    Alert

    Re: Peak Oil

    Dubai's oil will run out soon because there isn't very much of it. That's why they've diversified into tourism to the extent that they have. Neighbouring Abu Dhabi has loads left.

    And all the no-marks who say that Top Gear now is rubbish must have very rose-tinted memories of the old show. It was very, very dull. Excruciatingly so. Look:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WC-8x7HlE9M

  104. Dan delaMare-Lyon
    Happy

    OUT comments?

    Come on guys - put the beer down ;-)

  105. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    correct me if I'm wrong

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't a battery powered car just slowly loosed spead until it eventually came to a halt, rather than just suddenly stop?

    I guess its possible that the car has a shutoff mechanism to turn the car off after it reaches a certain threshold, but it seems at least some sort of warning would be in order... at the very least the TG video seemed exagerated.

  106. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    @ JANIMAL

    NOOOOO

    Petrol is NOT explosive.

    Hydrogen is though.

    Flammable and explosive are not the same.

  107. Danny Brewer
    Thumb Down

    This is what holds progress back

    The reason the technology is expensive, is because programs like TG lie. I had always engoyed TG, but will now always be wary. If you used the Tesla to drive into London and home every day, and you bought the fast charger option and solar cells, where is the issue. If solar technology was taken up more, then competition would increase, prices would decrease and everybody would benefit!

    That's why I applaud Jason Calacanis of mahalo.com for buying one, so in a few years the average driver can benefit from Teslas technology. If the money about to be pumped into GM to keep it afloat was given to Tesla, things could be very different.

  108. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    it's obvious the show is a fake.

    I’ve watched a few in the past but have realized it’s a waste of my time.

    Whenever the short one and the long haired one are racing the lanky one across town/city/continent in a flash multi million pound car, the car always wins.

    When it’s a everyday car, - Renault, Fiat racing some other person down a hill/across London traffic by bike/foot etc... car loses.

    It wouldn’t be so bad if they were more honest about how nonfiction their program is. But they present opinion as fact, opinion which most the time is BS.

  109. Rick Brasche
    Stop

    I'd call Tesla Motors...

    the "Tucker" of the New Millenium" but that would be disgracing Preston T's efforts at producing a radical new vehicle and going up against an equivalent industry. I believe Tucker was actually trying to produce a vehicle.

    Tesla OTOH is a venture capital sink. it exists to gain contracts and siphon money, not to build cars to sell for money. The "gearbox issue" is yet unresolved, and instead of fixing that, they spend time selling hype in Europe, spend time selling new unbuilt designs, spend time getting kickbacks from governments and federal grants and yet more venture capital...

    Using off the shelf components, kit car builders could build reliable, integrated, and high performance vehicles for under $30K. Someone with a factory and bulk parts-buying power could assemble them for considerably less, selling them for around $40-50K. There's nothing wrong with using an off the shelf transmission unit that's already designed to handle much more torque than the Tesla even dreams of.

    But the fact that Tesla spends more time in advertising, lobbying, and hiring design houses to produce pretty vaporware pictures shows what this enterprise is really all about. We don't even need to get into the "management issues" or other business malpractice symptoms. Mr. Musk needs to cut bait on this one and start over with a better plan.

  110. David
    Boffin

    Electric race car with 45 second battery change

    http://www.autobloggreen.com/2008/12/18/launched-wx10-t-all-electric-race-car/

    Just as Jeremy Clarkson complains about the Tesla charge time, West Race Cars go an launch a new electric racer designed to have its batteries changed in 45 seconds. Don't buy two Teslas Jeremy, take another set of batteries to the track.

    This is a very interesting development. If racing improves the breed, then bring it on.

  111. spam

    Isn't water a precious resource that we are not supposed to waste?

    No klutze. 4/5ths of the world surface is miles deep in the stuff. Water is 100% recyclable. No process consumes it and processes which contaminate it feed into a free evaporation and condensing purification system the size of the planet.

    Water is not precious and the only shortage is in willingness to build infrastructure to collect, store and move it from where it is to where we want it.

    It is an indication of the stupidity of green thought when we are told something that falls from the skies in enormous quantities is precious and must not be wasted....

  112. Tom Wood
    Thumb Up

    TV - entertaining and well-made, for once?

    Top Gear is a brilliant TV programme. One of the few there are.

    NOT because it is factual - it clearly isn't. (And nor is Eastenders, but you don't see people complaining about that).

    However, it has a specific target audience, and it knows it (if you don't like it, you're not meant to be watching). It is designed to appeal to its audience and be genuinely entertaining. It clearly has a decent production budget, and the concepts, scripting, filming and editing are superb. It's a joy to watch - the camerawork makes the cars and the environment look fantastic, particularly in the off-set bits - which is something few shows do properly any more. There is the right balance of scripted content and carefully editied reality so that you constantly have to ask yourself whether everything really happened or not. That's quite an acheivement for a TV programme about cars.

    Why does everything else on TV have to be low-budget, cheaply-filmed, middle-of-the-road "reality" shows designed without any sense of humour to be completely inoffensive and to be as mass-market as possible? Top Gear is "proper telly" - if you like it, you really like it - if not, you should be watching something else.

  113. Mike Kamermans
    Stop

    To everone who formed an opinion based on top gear...

    If that opinion is not of the form "that was a good/bad episode" but "that changed my opinion of the cars they tested", you might want to consider getting anti-sensitivity therapy, as you seem unable to separate television designed for entertainment purposes from television designed to inform you about things that matter in your life.

    Want a sensible opinion about cars? Watch a sensible program. Want to see actual things being actually blown up? Watch discovery channel. Want a program that makes fun of the automotive industry and everything around it, with spectacle and bravado? Watch top gear, but don't get all prissy when they do a segment you suddenly take exception to due because it might not reflect the truth... the truth - while useful - is also tremendously boring, that's why we still watch shows like top gear instead of all watching sensible car shows like fifth gear (some even do both! shock!)

    It's not like we sue a movie house either because we think the fantasy story they're telling doesn't match reality... oh wait, yes we do, and it's equally boring to listen to the arguments.

    this one included.

  114. Nick
    Stop

    Thanks for the link

    @Robert Shaw - thanks for the youtube link. Yes the style is on the deathly side of boring (particularly that car, I hate to think of the numbers who died after nodding off at the wheel). But I do actually hark back to those days of Top Gear when it looked at some real cars as well as fun ones. Its a completely different program, they should have renamed it as "Clarkson's Twat Face Show-off Club" to avoid my evident confusion.

    As for being a "no-mark".... that phrase triggers the scouser alert - I suppose you just enjoy watching vehicles which aren't up on bricks.

  115. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    leccy

    Does your laptop slowly die and get dimmer as your battery gets used? nope it doesnt which is the same reason that car will just stop.

    The review was good for the car, but the main point was the time to charge the damn thing, its not practical to charge a car for hours to use it some more, all the so called defects they said could be ironed out. there are two facts from the review, its damn fast but takes a long time to charge.

    And JC isnt anti anything thats not petrol, he loved the hydrogen based car they reviewed on the SAME show, they also proved that its not petrol drinking 3l cars that have crap fual consumption but actual crappy little eco cars that are drivin poorly, hence the saying its not what you drive its how you drive.

    Topgear is a cracking program, its funny its informative its entertaining, if you dont like it dont watch it but also dont go bleeting on about how bad it is to us because we dont care.

  116. O
    Stop

    Electric cars made obsolete by hydrogen fuel cell vehicles?

    HA.

    If even a fraction of the money poured into the black hole of hydrogen fuel cell tech had instead been put into electric vehicles and infrastructure, and car and oil firms banned from buying battery / charging patents and then sitting on them (purposely killing / delaying the tech), then we'd have all been driving electric cars a very long time ago.

    The oil companies, and many car companies, have a tremendous vested interest in seeing electric cars fail. Whereas the existing hydrocarbon reserves & refuelling / refining infrastructure can be converted to hydrogen rather than petrol and diesel.

    Hydrogen doesn't work, is hugely expensive, and as long as the oil companies have it their way, will never ever be 'green'.

  117. Matthew Collier
    Thumb Up

    Not like at home...

    IIRC, motoring magazines (and presumably, motoring shows, if they exist ;) ), in the states, are not allowed to "review" vehicles, due to being scared of being sued by the manufacturer (for a bad review). Hence, in the US mags, you get a blurb about the thing, that tells you not much the marketing material doesn't.

    Any USians confirm? So, if my memory serves, then Tesla might have got a nasty shock when what they got was an actual review (and 'cos it's Top Gear, probably a biased, mildly entertaining, but inaccurate one).

    It's TV after all, *all* "review" shows are rarely worth the time....

  118. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
    Go

    Some comments

    @Janimal

    "Petrol is NOT explosive.

    Hydrogen is though.

    Flammable and explosive are not the same."

    Umm??? Petrol had better be explosive (when mixed with air/oxygen), otherwise my car won't go. Equally, hydrogen needs to be mixed with air/oxygen, otherwise it will not explode either.

    And, while flammable and explosive are not the same meaning, anything flammable can be made to explode. Take a twig, grind it into dust, and I'll bet you can get it to explode in air...

    BTY, petrol is a liquid which will spill all over the surroundings in an accident before catching fire. It burns with a yellowy flame which radiates a lot of heat. Hydrogen is a gas which escapes and burns upwards in an accident. It burns with a colourless flame which radiates very little heat. I know which I would prefer to be near in an accident....

  119. Big Pete

    For a usable electric car available now

    http://www.bev.com.au/

    I saw this on TV last night, a small company just getting on with it.

  120. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Most Commented...

    How come this story isn't on the most commented list Mr Reg? 118 comments, this story is hotter than a hot thing!

  121. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Hydrogen as a fuel

    Iceland is dedicated to becoming a hydrogen economy to replace expensive imported oil (I say 'expensive'; filling up a car in the middle of nowhere in Iceland is still cheaper than doing it in the UK).

    They've run a number of trials with buses around Reykjavik refuelling from a dedicated hydrogen station on the outskirts of the city, which produces hydrogen on-site using electrolysis. The next stage was to see if hydrogen could be used as a fuel for smaller vehicles and as a ship fuel and a study to see if it was economically viable to export liquid hydrogen to Europe.

    Of course they're lucky - sitting on almost limitless hydro and geothermal reserves, it's cheap and easy to make hydrogen - something that isn't the case in the UK or most of the rest of Europe. So if the Icelanders have any sense they're already planning their revenge on the UK when they'll be able to turn off our LH2 supply as easily as we can shut down their banks.

    More info here:

    http://www.ectos.is/en/icelandic_new_energy/

  122. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Playing with the big boys

    I note that there are a few Tesla fanboys out there making excuses for them, based on the fact that the car is new and Tesla are a small company.

    Yes, it's a new car, but I've bought new models on day one before and there have been no teething troubles. Beta software is expected to be buggy, but it's free and nobody with any sense uses it in a production environment. The Tesla is not a Beta car, it sells for the full price and Tesla expect us to use it in a "live" environment.

    Anyway it isn't a new car, is it? It's a Lotus Elise with a new source of motive power, which could well be part of the problem. They have taken a very compact car designed to take a petrol engine and tried to shoehorn in an alternative power source. Obviously this sort of corner cutting (and that's what it is) will never work as well as designing a whole new car for the required power source.

    Tesla may be a small company, but that is not relevant. They have a lot of funding and charge a lot of money for their products. It's hardly some bloke converting Lotuses (Loti?) in a lockup is it?

    If you want to sell in the same market as the big boys, you have to be judged on the same criteria.

    This actually applies to all electric and alternative fuelled cars, they have to be judged on the same criteria as their petrol and diesel powered brethren. The market expects certain functionality, if you can't meet them there are no excuses.

    Oh and so what if it's as fast as a GT3? It bloody well ought to be at that price. If it costs £90K then it should be able to do everything you expect of a £90K sports car. It's got a long way to go before it can martch the capabilities of the R500 hasn't it? Not only has it got to lop a massive chunk off it's lap time, it's also got to lop some £56K off the price.

  123. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    whys everyone moaning

    ... he said he liked the car and said it was great!

  124. michael

    @HA

    thanks for your conspricy theroy now do not for get to colect your tinfoild hat on teh way out

  125. Gulfie
    Flame

    @Ian Michael Gumby

    "When TopGear tests a car on their track, they are hard on the machine. Tesla wasn't really designed for that sort of abuse."

    Oh yes it was. Or should have been. From the moment they decided to build, now concentrate on this, a SPORTS CAR. It's based on the Lotus Elise, FFS, who buys these things to tootle around town at 25mph in? Not me.

    I had a friend with a kit car that looked fantastic. A Countach look-alike. Trouble was, it had a 1600cc VW Beetle engine in the back so it sounded laughable once it got alongside you, and want about as fast as a snail. The guy was ragged mercilessly for the entire time he had it, and quite right too.

    You build me a car that looks like a sports car and I'll drive it like one - fast. Yes it'll go into town, but that is not its primary stomping ground - you can leave that to the Gee-Wiz and Smart brigade thank you very much. Mind you I wouldn't touch a Tesla because I'd be forever seasick...

  126. michael

    power tarnsfers

    "http://www.autobloggreen.com/2008/12/18/launched-wx10-t-all-electric-race-car/

    Just as Jeremy Clarkson complains about the Tesla charge time, West Race Cars go an launch a new electric racer designed to have its batteries changed in 45 seconds. Don't buy two Teslas Jeremy, take another set of batteries to the track.

    This is a very interesting development. If racing improves the breed, then bring it on.\"

    I seam to rember a descusion on a older el reg comment thread on the amount of power needed to be transfered over a cable to be the equivlent to filling up with petrol and the results where somthing along the line of enought to fry a cable about a foot thick

  127. Gareth Jones

    @Michael

    You are, of course, right. While it is theoretically possible to charge the Tesla's batteries in a few seconds the practical means of doing so are not readilly available. However I don't think that little fact will stop the battery fanboys jerking off over the idea.

    Battery cars in the real world of extended journeys will not take off until practical fast charging is sorted out. I'm sure something will be sorted out eventually, but it's not there yet.

  128. Ian Johnston Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    @Paul

    "No mention of the new battery tech upcoming that will allow 80% odd charge in a few minutes."

    Well, that's lovely. The battery pack apparently stores about 50kWh. Want to refill that in "a few minutes"? Five minutes? That's 600kW. From a standard 415V three phase supply, that's 834A

  129. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    New technology

    Want to see high power Li-ion technology that works? Have a look at the Antares electric motorglider from Lange Flugzeugbau. Compared to what those guys are doing, stuffing a ton of batteries and an electric motor into a Lotus Elise really isn't much of a step.

  130. Robert Hill
    Stop

    Stop the 'leccy madness...

    Simply put, the US and UK's national electrical grid are not anywhere NEARLY beefy enough to pump out the megawatts needed to re-charge a significant number of electric vehicles. They can barely cope with the power requirements in many locales at present, especially in seasonal peak usages.

    Electric, and even most hydrogen vehicles suffer from such a host of supply chain inefficiencies and shortage of capabilities (generation, power transmittal, recharging points with sufficient voltage, etc.) that they are simply not practical in anything like the next 20 years, not matter how cool the technology demonstrations are or how good the individual vehicles get.

    The single best transportation news was recently published in the New York Times, which showed that the last economic boom cycle resulted in a huge influx in commuters coming into New York City, but private vehicle use remained unchanged - in short, mass transit usage expanded hugely over the past 10 years.

    Give me a Caterham 500 for the occasional track day (with such occasional usage, who cares what the petrol use is or how practical it is?), and an Oyster card for actually getting to work and going around town in London...

  131. Donald Becker

    "theroretically possible"

    The claim that it's "theoretically possible to charge the Tesla's batteries in a few seconds" is wrong. The Tesla is using standard 18650 lithium cells -- low end laptop batteries from existing production lines. (High end batteries are now custom shapes, rather than standard cylinders.) They take at least two hours to charge, and produce a lot of heat, especially while finishing their charge. They will briefly accept a high charge rate, but not for very long before overheating.

    The idea that you can just drain and refill the electrolyte is similarly flawed. For a lead-acid battery, it's not the acid that's consumed. The lead plates are chemically changed.

    And finally, swapping batteries isn't (yet) practical. Even if a battery pack is standardized, and the engineering is worked out to mount it safely and quickly (very difficult), working out the economics will be difficult. Would you want to swap your factory-fresh battery pack for a thrashed pack with much reduced capacity on the first long trip?

  132. Gareth Jones

    Jeremy was being Generous

    Full charge times from the 2008 Tesla Owners Manual:h

    4 hours - 240V@70A

    5 hours - 240V@60A

    6 hours - 240V@48A

    7 hours - 240V@40A

    10 hours - 240V@32A

    15 hours - 240V@24A

    18 hours - 240V@16A

    20 hours - 240V@12A

    And those are for a "standard" charge, a maximum range charge would take 15% longer. Just out of interest who would use the standard charge mode? That's like stopping putting in petrol when there's still a couple of gallons space in the tank.

    So Clarkson's sixteen hours for a domestic socket was a bit on the generous side.

    Being something of a cynic I always assume car manufacturers exagerate their official fuel consumption figures, more so in the case of "green" cars. So I would also assume that Tesla have exagerated their official range of 220 miles. They wouldn't be including lots of hills, corners and heavy traffic in that distance, I presume.

    Now then, lets assume you reached journeys end without conking out and your destination doesn't have a fast charger. Even Tesla owners won't be rich enough to buy all their friends and family a "fast" charger. So you could well be stuck with a 46 hour recharge before you can come home. "Sorry I won't be at work today. I drove down to visit my parents on saturday and the car won't be recharged until monday night."

    Yes, it's clever. Yes, it's quick. Yes, it's a step in the right direction. All those things it is, but it's just an early prototype. They are selling it to fund further development. It should come with a big warning that reads, "THIS IS A GREAT TOY, BUT IT IS NOT A REPLACMENT FOR YOUR EXISTING CAR"

    However the bit that startles me is that the "fast" charger requires a 70A supply. Not sure how this would play out in the US, but in the UK you would need a properly qualfied sparky to come along and wire this in straight after the main fuse. And even then 70A is a huge amount of current. Switch on the oven or the shower when you're charging your Tesla and that's the main fuse gone. I really hope the fast charger has some clever electronics in it that will prevent this, otherwise there will be a lot of unwashed Tesla owners around. No strike that. I doubt there will be "a lot" of Tesla owners around any time soon.

  133. Jim

    So much inertia...

    It seems that the greatest arguments against either of the the two front runners to remove oil power from cars is that the infrastructure is not in place. Well who'da thunk it! Anyone care to research how long the existing petrol/gasoline infrastructure took to get to its current state? New infrastructure is not going to happen overnight but it isn't going to happen at all if no-one has the foresight to start.

    Personally, I'm for batteries right now as most of the issues are solvable in the near future whereas H2 has a few issues awaiting innovative solutions.

    "Switch on the oven or the shower when you're charging your Tesla and that's the main fuse gone. I really hope the fast charger has some clever electronics in it that will prevent this, otherwise there will be a lot of unwashed Tesla owners around."

    This is not just going to be an issue for 'Tesla owners' if battery power goes mainstream. But the technology required by the solution is already there for this issue. Incidentally, does anyone else notice the irony that batteries are DC and N. Tesla was totally an advocate of AC?

    "And finally, swapping batteries isn't (yet) practical. Even if a battery pack is standardized, and the engineering is worked out to mount it safely and quickly (very difficult), working out the economics will be difficult. Would you want to swap your factory-fresh battery pack for a thrashed pack with much reduced capacity on the first long trip?"

    Sorry? You can't think of a mounting system that would allow the quick change of battery packs? Assuming that manufacturers could agree on a standard pack size, I can think of a few ideas off the top of my head that would be simple and safe.

    There also seems to be some confusion about battery packs in a 'swapping' system. Currently, new cars are not handed to the owner with 'refinery-fresh' fuel, just what happened to be in the pump that day. If a battery swapping based system is adopted then the battery pack will no more be part of the vehicle than the fuel you get now.

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