Tesla's 'cocky' response over a high-profile consumer complaint draws ire in China
Published: Apr 20, 2021 01:28 PM
Photo taken on Oct. 26, 2020 shows the Tesla China-made Model 3 vehicles at its gigafactory in Shanghai, east China. Photo: Xinhua

Photo taken on Oct. 26, 2020 shows the Tesla China-made Model 3 vehicles at its gigafactory in Shanghai, east China. Photo: Xinhua

US electric car maker Tesla's response over a high-profile consumer complaint on late Monday has been ill received by some Chinese netizens, with many calling the company's response as "cocky."

Tesla was under media limelight on Monday at the Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition when a woman jumped onto a Tesla car on display, wearing a T-shirt printed with "Tesla's brake failure" and screaming in front of a bewildered crowd. The woman was forcibly removed from the Tesla booth and is now under police detention for five days. 

But it was the company's comment on the incident on late Monday that roiled the Chinese social media. The company said  "it acknowledges sensible criticism "but at the same time that" it will not compromise to unreasonable claims."

The company's response to the incident on its Sina Weibo social media account is one of the most discussed topics on Tuesday morning, garnering 17,000 comments from netizens as of press time. 

The electric car maker said it will comply with full-scale test run by a state-level third-party certifying authority as "after all, such an institution cannot be manipulated by any company. "However, it continued, "its hope has not been possible so far."

Reflecting on the situation, Tesla China said "it may have some problems in the way it communicates with client" though "it has indeed no sway over the way a client chooses to solve the problem."

The company stated, "if the issue really lies in Tesla's product quality, it will compensate and receive punishment."

The consumer in question had previously staged similar protest over the same claim and Tesla once pointed out the woman had a collision accident due to speeding and insisted on a full refund on ground of product quality. 

In an afternoon media interview on Monday, a Tesla executive told reporters that "this consumer has contributed almost all negative news toward the company of late," and "an internal survey showed 90 percent of Tesla owners would be willing to buy another Tesla."

The executive said the woman refused to send the car for a test and believed that "she is kind of a professional and probably had some force behind her."

However, on Chinese social media platform, there are differing voices. 

Netizens tend to focus on the company's quality problems exposed in China and believed that Tesla may believe it is in a position of strength in face of a lone consumer filing compliant.

Some netizens are demanding Tesla reveal data at the time of each claimed brake failure incident to the public.

There are also netizens who state that the car should be subject to testing by a third party to clear up the matter. 

Xinhua News Agency ran a commentary criticizing Tesla's noncompromising stance, and suggested if a car company could not guarantee safe drive experience for its clients, and even maliciously speculating a consumer's motivation in such action, it could tarnish a company's brand image in the end.

In February, China's top market regulator summoned Tesla for a talk over recent rising consumer complaints, including unexpected accelerations, battery fires and abnormal over-the-air (OTA) upgrades. The regulator called the US' premium electric car maker to abide by Chinese laws and rules and uphold consumers' legitimate rights and interests.

According to public information platform, there have been five recall incidents related with Tesla cars over quality glitches, including imported vehicles Model S and Model X.

Global Times
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