Car Culture

Tesla versus the BBC

While a BBC reporter took four days to drive a MiniE from London to Edinburgh, a Tesla driver made the trip in a single day.

Wayne Cunningham/CNET
Tesla Roadster
Tesla driver David Peilow poses in the electric Roadster at Edinburgh Castle. Tesla

Feeling that electric cars were getting a bad rap due to a BBC correspondent's four-day journey from London to Edinburgh in a Mini E, a Tesla driver took to the road and made the over 400-mile trip in a day, ultimately getting to Scotland before the BBC.

BBC correspondent Brian Milligan set out to drive the electric-powered Mini E from London to Edinburgh, with stops at public charging stations whenever necessary. It took him four days to complete the trip on his 484-mile route, and he reported an average speed--taking charging time into account--of 6 mph. Toward the end of the journey Milligan was shivering from the cold, as using the heater would have lessened the car's range.

Map of route
Pielow's route up the M6 involved a dinner stop at Tebay, where he charged the car's battery. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

By the third day of the BBC's Mini E adventure, the limitations of the car were quite apparent to BBC viewers, but electric-car company Tesla found a way to demonstrate that the bad press wasn't accurate for all electric vehicles. That day, David Peilow, described as an electric-vehicle advocate, picked up a Tesla Roadster at the Tesla store in London and drove it to Edinburgh in a single day.

Peilow's route up the M6 was shorter, at just a little over 400 miles. Tesla says he charged up at 240-volt outlets along the way, as needed. The only charge stop described in any detail was during dinner at a Motorway service area in Tebay, about 270 miles north of London. With the Roadster's seat heaters, Peilow did not suffer from the cold.

On learning of the Tesla challenge during day 3, both Milligan and BBC editor Jeremy Hillman defended their reporting. Milligan pointed out that he was testing a mass-market electric car, and felt the challenge from a high-priced sports car was unfair.

Ultimately, Peilow beat Milligan to Edinburgh, then set out for Belfast.