BBC puts the brakes on TomTom, 'Top Gear' partnership

After thousands of units had already hit shelves, the BBC has pulled the plug on the TomTom-"Top Gear" partnership.

TomTom Top Gear Edition
The BBC has pulled the plug on the 'Top Gear'-edition TomTom navigator. TomTom/'Top Gear'

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but those of you who got excited about the announcement of a "Top Gear"-edition GPS navigator by TomTom will be saddened to know that the brakes have been applied to the project.

According to the Guardian, the BBC states that its presenters "must take particular care not to endorse any product or service which could be covered in the programs on which they work." In a nutshell, because GPS navigators are car accessories and "Top Gear" is a show that reviews cars, there is a conflict of interest and it is potentially unethical for the show to directly profit from its partnership with TomTom, which is perfectly understandable.

What's not perfectly understandable is how far along this partnership got before anyone stopped it. TomTom has reportedly manufactured 54,000 of the limited-edition navigators featuring the voice of "Top Gear" presenter Jeremy Clarkson, many of which had already made it to store shelves by the time the BBC pulled the plug. Because "Top Gear" can't be allowed to profit from this endeavor, the BBC has agreed to donate any profits from the sale of the devices already in the wild to the Children in Need nonprofit organization.

So unless you were one of the lucky few to grab the device before the fallout, you can pretty much forget about being berated daily by a 51-year old man from Oxfordshire on your commute. If that saddens you, well, then you've probably got bigger issues than a car blog can fix.

Update: According to a tweet from the official TomTom Twitter account, "We are still planning to sell the announced TomTom/Top Gear product. The deal was cut for future products, not the one we announced." Those future products might have included a downloadable Jeremy Clarkson Voice or "Top Gear" car icons that would have been made available for download on other TomTom devices, but no more. However, TomTom's preorder page for the TomTom Go Live Top Gear Edition is still up and running.

 

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