Nissan angry at Clarkson over Top Gear stunt
Car manufacturer accuses BBC show of misleading viewers as electric car seen running out of battery
Infamous petrol-head and Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson, who is well known for his dislike of everything environmentally friendly, has been accused by Nissan of deliberately misleading viewers with an unjust portrayal of their new electric car.
In the latest episode of the BBC motoring show, which was shown on Sunday, Clarkson and fellow presenter James May tested battery-powered cars by driving them to Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire on a 60-mile trip. Halfway through the drive, however, Clarkson's £31,000 Nissan Leaf was running out of power, forcing the duo to divert to Lincoln.
Far from finding a place to reboot, it became apparent that there was no charging spot in the town. The result was that Clarkson soon ran out of power, became stranded and had to be pushed by James May. The pair eventually managed to hook the car up to a plug but realised it would take hours to fully recharge. As they waited they whiled away the time doing brass-rubbings in Lincoln cathedral. Electric cars, Clarkson concluded by the end of the piece, "are not the future".
However, according to Nissan, it was all a set up. The car manufacturers say they delivered the vehicle fully charged, with enough power for 100 miles of driving. But after reviewing the information gathered by the car's monitoring device, Nissan said that when Clarkson set off, the battery was more than half empty, and would have clearly shown a range of only 30 miles on the electric dashboard.
Viewers were not told that the battery had been less than half full at the start of the trip. Nor were they told that, according to the Times, the Top Gear team intended the drivers to run out of power in Lincoln, knowing there were no public charging points there.
Unsurprisingly Andy Palmer, Nissan's executive vice-president, has complained that the episode was misleading, pointing out that the Nissan Leaf's sat-nav system is deliberately designed to tell drivers if they do not have enough power to reach their destination. Furthermore, it has been suggested that Top Gear drove the cars around Lincoln for 10 miles, draining the battery until it eventually stopped.
Despite mounting criticism, the BBC appears to be unrepentant. A spokeswoman told the Times: "The point of the film was to show how bad the charging infrastructure is in the UK. The car needed to run out of charge so that could be demonstrated. Since we weren't testing the range claims, it made no difference how much charge we started with. We don't say how much petrol went into a car when it started a journey." ·
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