Quick, what’s the best two-pronged attack you can think of to generate publicity for your startup company that’s on the verge of shipping its long-awaited, change the world, zero-emissions family sedan? If you answered, “Support third-party apps AND sue one of the most recognized media companies in the world for libel,” you win! Or, at least, you know why Tesla’s in the news right now.
On the bright side, the Silicon Valley maker of electric cars announced that their Model S sedan, which is due to ship next year, will support third party apps and text-to-voice functionality. The five-door electric vehicle will feature a 17-inch touch screen in its dashboard center stack with infotainment functionality powered by NVIDIA processors. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, speaking at a conference in San Francisco earlier this month, said, “We want people to develop car-specific applications [for the Model S]. And text-to-speech technology can address some of the issues with driver distraction.”
On the dark side, Tesla has filed suit for libel and malicious falsehood against the popular BBC programme Top Gear. The suit stems from a 2008 episode of the show that levied a pretty harsh review on the Tesla Roadster, the company’s first (and currently only) production vehicle. Not that adding a “Tesla vs Top Gear” page to your corporate Website necessarily spells publicity stunt, but Tesla’s gone ahead and done that, making it easy for me to quote them on the basis of the lawsuit:
When Top Gear reviewed the Tesla Roadster, the episode that aired contained lies and misinformation about the Roadster’s performance, behaviour and reliability. Tesla reluctantly took legal action after its repeated attempts to contact the BBC, over the course of months, were ignored.
The BBC has responded with a story on their own Newsbeat site headlined, “BBC Denies Rigging Top Gear Tesla Roadster car race.” And so it goes. I’m still drooling over the Model S myself, which is easy since it’s not going to ship for another year and I don’t have $75,000+ for the top-end model the company says will be the first version to roll off production lines.