Top Gear, one of BBC’s top rated shows, has been criticized for its recent review of the Nissan Leaf Electric Car. Last July 31, the show’s host tested two electric vehicles currently available in the UK market, the Nissan Leaf and the Mitsubishi I-MiEV.
The television show is all about motor vehicles, from motorcycles to cars. The show first aired in 1977 and was reformatted in 2002. The show’s quirky and deadpan humor has been a hit with fans in the United Kingdom and all over the world. The hosts of the show are Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. It also has guest drivers known as the Stig. The show has received both praise and criticism, both for its presentation and reviews.
In the said July 31 show, host Clarkson showed the Nissan Leaf running out of power. In response, the Japanese carmaker said that for the show, the test driven Leaf was driven around in circles to discharge its battery for the show. Furthermore, the carmaker said the Leaf used for the show was only half charged and hosts did not use the eco-mode function of the Leaf that can extend the range of the vehicle.
Other criticisms for the particular episode of the show have come up, such as using disabled car spaces for their cars, to the chagrin of disabled charity groups.
This is just one of the controversies that Top Gear has with electric vehicles. When the show reviewed the Tesla Roadster, the carmaker criticized the show and its producers saying that the car’s performance was misrepresented by the show.
In response, Top Gear’s executive producer Andy Wilman said that the show was raising legitimate consumer concerns regarding the electric cars, such as the price, the range predictions and the recharging systems available for electric vehicles. The show has denied that it intended to mislead viewers nor put the vehicle in bad light.
The producer added that it might even be carmakers such as Nissan that is giving misleading information. While Nissan dedicates space for fast charging, it does not mention that frequent fast charging of the Leaf battery severely shortens the battery life for the vehicle.
Other pundits though find that the criticisms of the show’s treatment of electric vehicles are well-founded. Robert Llewellyn, host of the Fully Charged podcast series, says that the Top Gear show of July 31 is “biased, ill-informed, clueless and quite funny.”
He added, "The three men who’s lives revolve around internal combustion engines and burning rubber facing the now universally accepted truth that we are going to face a chronic shortage of the fuel we all depend on."