Controversial BBC television Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson has become embroiled in controversy with Nissan and a top UK daily newspaper after running out of electricity while driving a Leaf EV for the programme.

But Clarkson has defended the latest episode of Top Gear in which he deliberately ran out of power in the all-electric car, saying: “That’s how TV works”.

The popular presenter admitted he had known that the GBP26,000 Leaf had a low charge in its battery when he set out on a trip to the seaside.

The Times reported the car had been delivered to Top Gear the night before with a full charge and was capable of being driven 100 miles (160km).

But it was driven extensively that night and not properly recharged, meaning Clarkson took to the wheel the next day with its electronic display showing a range of only about 30 miles (40km), the paper said.

He ran out of electricity in Lincoln and the car was pushed around the city while he searched for somewhere to plug in.

Clarkson, who was accompanied by fellow presenter James May in another electric car, said: “They had to be low on charge once we arrived in Lincoln. That’s how TV works.”

He added: “The piece was about the difficulties of recharging the electric car. At no point did we mislead the viewers.

Top Gear’s job is to say to everybody, ‘Just a minute, do not believe [electric cars] can be run as simply as you have been told. Charging them up is a pain in the arse’.

“If I got into a car with a petrol engine, should I explain to the viewers that I only had three-quarters of a tank?”

Clarkson reportedly admitted electric car owners were likely to check the vehicle’s range before embarking on a journey.

“Yes, they trim their beards and wax their armpits and off they go.”

Clarkson said he might write an article in response to The Times’ report and could include the sentence: “The Times comes across as an apologist for Nissan. [Writer] Ben Webster recently had free use of a Nissan Leaf to travel to his home.”

Last week, Nissan lent The Times a Leaf which conducted a 99-mile test drive.

“We reported that fear of running out of power left the driver feeling ‘range anxiety’ for much of the journey,” the paper said.