Tesla car owner insists a refund of her faulty EV
Published: Apr 21, 2021 09:05 PM
A protester standing on a Tesla Model 3 on 2021 Shanghai Auto Show.  Photo: CFP

A protester standing on a Tesla Model 3 on 2021 Shanghai Auto Show. Photo: CFP

A Chinese Tesla owner, one of two women who recently shot into the limelight after their outcry over Tesla's brake malfunction put the US electric vehicle maker into hot water, has insisted on having her car taken back.

The Tesla owner from Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, who gave her surname as Li, told the Global Times on Wednesday that she aspires to return the defective vehicle and get a refund from Tesla.

Li and Zhang, another Tesla owner from Central China's Henan Province, showed up at Tesla's stall at Auto Shanghai 2021 on Monday in a public protest against Tesla's brake malfunction. 

Zhang, wearing a T-shirt printed with a Tesla trademark and a "Tesla brake fails" slogan, climbed atop a model car and loudly protested during the live auto show.

She was forcibly removed from the Tesla booth and placed under a five-day administrative detention.

Li, a pregnant woman wearing the same T-shirt, who protested in a less dramatic way, received an administrative warning from the local police.

The protest instantly set off an uproar over Tesla's vehicle malfunctions, with the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission posting a commentary on its official WeChat account on Tuesday that upbraided Tesla for its disregard of Chinese consumers' rising concerns about car quality.

The protest has caused a barrage of criticism that prompted Tesla, which had initially taken a non-compromising stance, to issue a late-night apology on Tuesday, vowing to cooperate with the regulators in all related investigations.

The company has created a special task force to deal with the consumers' complaints, said the Tesla statement, and the company will try its best to satisfy the car owners' requests in accordance with the laws and regulations. 

Tesla China has yet to contact her, Li said. The protest at the auto show was a "last resort" after her previous attempts to fix the vehicle's defects all failed, according to Li.

The Tesla owner picked up her "dream car" one year ago and has since been bothered by occasional malfunctions, media reports said.

She told the Global Times that she contacted a local Tesla store immediately after the brake failure happened. 

"Tesla employees refused to provide any vehicle data and requested results from a third-party testing organization, which needed to be done by myself," said Li. However, Li said Tesla didn't appoint any specific organization for her, and it was difficult to find a qualified testing organization in her city. 

Li believed that the brake failure of her vehicle was caused by software issues. "The third-party test cannot be finished if Tesla refuses to provide any software data," said Li. 

She also considered selling the vehicle if Tesla could fix the malfunctions. She said nonetheless that "I'm worried that the buyer of my defective car may confront the same problem, which will make me feel guilty."

Li felt wronged by some netizens who accused her of blackmailing Tesla, she told the Global Times, trying to dismiss conspiracy theories about the Monday protest at the Tesla booth.

Li and Zhang, members of a WeChat chat group where Tesla owners have made complaints over brake failures, became acquainted. But they didn't make any appointment to show up together at the auto fair and they just wanted to get answers from Tesla about their defective vehicles, according to Li.

She didn't explain how she entered the exhibition venue on Monday, supposedly the start of a two-day media preview, prior to the auto show's official start on Wednesday. Entry to the event necessitates visitors to have their identity cards checked and have their faces identified, per Global Times reporters' observations. 

Global Times