This comes following increasing pressure the EV auto giant is facing from Chinese authorities for quality and safety issues. The protestor was captured by bystanders on video and went viral on social media platforms.
Tesla Inc seems to be coming under pressure in China as two government entities have received letters about the company’s treatment and behaviour towards its customers in a single day. The trouble started early on Tuesday when China’s state-run Xinhua news released a piece, which stated that Tesla EVs must meet the market expectations if the company want to win customers’ trust. The article said the California-based automaker should address consumer hesitation over purchasing of its vehicles after multiple issues ranging from catching fire while charging to malfunctioning braking have emerged.
After a few hours of the same day, the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China Central Committee posted a statement on its WeChat account. It said Tesla should respect Chinese consumers and must comply with local laws and regulations. Taking a step to find the cause of these problems and rectify or improve is something any responsible business should do, and Tesla hasn’t done that, the Communist Party that oversees China’s police, prosecutors and courts said.
This blowback from the Chinese government appears to stem from an embarrassing incident Tesla faced on Monday at the Shanghai Motor Show, China’s and one of the world’s biggest automobile events. An angry protester climbed up on top of one of Tesla’s display vehicles shouting that her car’s brakes had failed and wore a T-shirt which said, “The brakes don’t work.” The protestor was also live streaming earlier near the EV company’s display booths before staging her protest, which was captured by scores of onlookers, who later uploaded the video on the internet and helped it go viral on social media. On Tuesday, Tesla’s booth had a visibly increased security presence.
The protestor is a Tesla owner from Henan and “is widely known for having repeatedly protested against Tesla’s brake issue,” the company said on Monday, adding that it will work on solutions but “never compromise against unreasonable demands.” Local police have stated that she will be detained for five days. Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
The company has received support from the Chinese government itself and appeared to skirt the tensions between Beijing and Washington. The world’s biggest EV make also has additional perk which other global companies have struggled to obtain in China, the biggest global EV market, which includes cheap loans, tax breaks, and permission to wholly own its domestic operations.
But over the past month, Tesla has had to defend its method of handling data in China, with its vehicles being banned from military complexes because of concerns about sensitive information being collected by the vehicles’ built-in cameras. Following the order, CEO Elon Musk strongly denied the automaker would even use a vehicle’s technology for spying and Tesla’s Beijing unit said the built-in cameras in its EVs are not activated outside of North America.
Tesla has also been called out by Chinese regulators over quality and safety issues before, including abnormal acceleration and battery fires. Earlier this year in February, the manufacturer was forced into issuing a public apology to China’s state grid after a video purportedly showed staff blaming an overload in the national electricity network for damage to a customer’s vehicle.