Tesla-Top Gear lawsuit bodes ill for green data center tech

Those power-savings solutions might not be trickling down to a server farm near you


"Green" technology is all the rage in data centers, where IT managers are struggling to save costs on air conditioning space and hardware while being pressed to add hardware, add power and increase performance, preferably without adding any power consumption to run computers or cool them.

Bad news for those hoping cutting-edge green tech is going to solve all those problems: The highest-profile manufacturer of electric cars, which makes the only real sports car and arguably most advanced electric vehicle in the world, is suing a BBC TV show for an episode that highlighted some of the drawbacks of alternative-powered transportation.

Geek favorite TV show – the BBC's supercar fetishizing, iconoclastic, often silly Top Gear – is being sued by U.S.-based Tesla Motors.

The suit alleges libel and malicious falsehood over Top Gear episodes in which Tesla's Roadster high-end electric sports car was tested on a track, under far more controlled and benevolent conditions than most other vehicles featured, and was found wanting.

In the first episode, the test car ran out of power after 55 miles on the track, despite a stated range of 200 miles and had to be pushed into a hangar converted to a supercar-repair facility to have its batteries recharged or replaced.

The car is "biblically quick," but the battery packs are unreliable, charging takes too long and the brakes malfunctioned in the test vehicle, Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson said in the episode.

"It’s just a shame that in the real world it doesn’t seem to work," said the tallest of the three presenters (often referred to by co-presenters James May – the long-haired aesthete – Richard Hammond – the small, cute one – as "the orangutan").

Tesla's U.K.-based lawyers charge the scenes were staged and, in fact, scripted ahead of time.

Judging from other episodes of the show, the Top Gear hosts unquestionably dislike electric cars, or at least the versions available now.

Maybe if the Tesla didn't poop out so quickly they might have liked it better?

Kevin Fogarty writes about enterprise IT for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @KevinFogarty.

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