Nissan has admitted it is worried about lending an electric Nissan Leaf to Top Gear after reports the show had drained the batteries and left the presenters stranded in Lincoln for ‘dramatic effect’.
The images of students pushing the Leaf, driven by Jeremy Clarkson, down the street and using a tow rope on the new electric car, has worried Nissan UK Managing Director Paul Willcox after agreeing to send a car for the latest series.
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However, he has said he will wait to see what the eventual programme looks like before jumping to conclusions.
He said: “It’s hard for me to comment on exactly what’s going on because, at the moment, we just don’t know. I’ll have to reserve judgement until after we’ve seen the edited programme."
The scenes were being filmed for the 17th series of Top Gear, and seem to show Jeremy Clarkson and James May driving a Nissan Leaf and Peugeot iOn respectively.
The pair were spotted running out of charge in Lincoln, before being pushed to a charging point at the university.
Willcox described giving a car to Top Gear as ‘a double-edged sword’, adding: “You’re at the mercy of the script writers and the presenters as to how it will be represented."
But he says the Nissan Leaf, whose range is 100 miles on a full charge, should speak for itself in any road test after the unprecedented success of the model since launch.
This includes being the first electric car to be named both European and World Car of the Year 2011 – two of the biggest honours in the automotive industry.
The latest electric car stunt is part of Top Gear’s now famous road trips in cars across the world, but electric cars have often been the subject of controversy on the BBC programme.
Top Gear is currently embroiled in a legal battle with Tesla, which accuses the program of showing an electric supercar apparently running out of battery power and being pushed into a garage.
The electric supercar maker insists the car still had charge left, and alleged mechanical problems were set up to show electric vehicles in a bad light, leading to defamation and malicious falsehood writs being issued to the programme.
However, Top Gear hit back at the claims, accusing Tesla of using the legal action as a publicity stunt and denies Tesla’s claim that it described the car’s true range was just 55 miles instead of the 211 miles quoted by Tesla.
The new series of Top Gear will begin in the UK later this year.