Update: China's top market regulator calls for protection of consumer rights after Tesla's customers stage a protest at Shanghai auto show
Published: Apr 22, 2021 01:32 AM
Tesla electronic cars are being charged in Changzhou, East China’s Jiangsu Province, on May 8. Photo: cnsphoto

Tesla electronic cars are being charged in Changzhou, East China’s Jiangsu Province, on May 8. Photo: cnsphoto

Tesla China said late Monday that they will do their best to deal with and solve existing problems, and every new problem that may arise in the future.

The US electric car maker Tesla said on Thursday that they fully accept the decisions of the State Administration for Market Regulation and the Zhengzhou Municipal Administration for Market Regulation and will actively cooperate with all relevant investigations to the best of its ability.

In its latest statement, the company pledged to unreservedly cooperate with the regulatory authorities to carry out in-depth investigations, and accept public supervision in an open and honest manner.

Furthermore, the US company is willing to jointly conduct the testing by any qualified and authoritative testing institutions nationwide under the approval of the customs and designation and supervision of the government authorities.

Tesla was under media limelight for its response over a high-profile consumer complaint that roiled the Chinese social media. China's top market regulator on Wednesday urged local regulators to handle complaints from Tesla owners in a law-abiding manner after the US electric carmaker was put on the spot for a cascade of malfunction incidents. 

Recent attempts by owners of Tesla cars to defend their consumer rights at the Auto Shanghai 2021 caught the attention of the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) which announced in a late-night statement that it has instructed local market regulators in Central China's Henan Province and Shanghai to resolutely safeguard consumers' legitimate rights.

Companies ought to resolutely fulfill their responsibilities in ensuring quality safety and provide consumers with premium and safe products and services, read the statement. 

Respecting consumers rights is the most important prerequisite for companies' operations, the China Consumer Association (CCA) said on Wednesday.

The CCA also mentioned that businesses need to pay attention to consumers' complaints, initiate proper investigations and present consumers with reasonable explanations and effective solutions, urging carmakers to use their professional knowledge for strict self-inspections.

Technological advantages shouldn't be roadblocks to problem solving, the CCA stressed, adding that consumers ought to defend their rights in accordance with the law and avoid aggressive behaviors.   

Earlier on Wednesday, a local market regulator in Zhengzhou, Central China's Henan Province ordered Tesla's Zhengzhou sales firm to provide unconditionally all driving data for the 30 minutes prior to the crash of one of its vehicles. The case involves a Tesla owner who lately made headlines after protesting against brake failure at Tesla's booth at the Auto Shanghai 2021.

Shortly after the regulatory request was made public by China's state broadcaster, local news platform Daxiang News, revealed that a Tesla experience center in Zhengzhou will fully cooperate with the investigation by the local market regulator and submit the complete driving data to the regulator and to an unspecified third-party testing facility.  

Two women owners of Tesla cars, one surnamed Zhang, showed up at Tesla's booth on Monday at the start of the Shanghai Auto Show. The two women, wearing same T-shirts with a Tesla logo and a "brake failure" slogan, instantly became the focus of attention. 

Zhang, in particular, turned out to be an attention grabber, after climbing on top a Tesla vehicle on display and screaming in front of a bewildered crowd. She was forcibly removed from the Tesla booth and later placed under a five-day administrative police detention.

The protest instantly sparked public outcry over Tesla's vehicle malfunctions, with the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission posting a commentary on its official WeChat account scolding Tesla for its ignorance of Chinese consumers' rising concerns about its vehicle malfunctions.

Incessant condemnation and a barrage of criticism eventually prompted Tesla, which had initially taken an uncompromising attitude, to issue a late-night apology on Tuesday vowing to resolutely cooperate with government departments in all related investigations.

The company has created a special work group to deal with consumer complaints, according to the statement, and it would try its best to satisfy customers' requests under the laws and regulations. 

Zhang also sat on the top of a Tesla car in front of an outlet of the US electric carmaker in Zhengzhou on March 9. 

The market regulator in the city's Zhengdong New District said earlier that it accepted the complaint on March 8 and arranged multiple mediations between the consumer and Tesla's Zhengzhou sales firm thereafter. Thus far, the two sides have yet to reach an agreement, the state broadcaster reported.

Taking into account the big discrepancies between the two sides and that it remains uncertain  whether consumers have the right to access all driving data generated from the use of electric cars, the market regulators requested instructions from higher authorities on April 2. It was clarified that consumers should be informed of the issue accordingly to the regulatory order that was announced, the state broadcaster reported.

Tesla responded around midnight in a statement on its official Sina Weibo account that it actively contacted the market regulator in Zhengzhou and reported the situation to the regulator on Wednesday afternoon.

Tesla said it is willing to fully cooperate and provide the requested driving data to third-party testing institutions, government-assigned technology regulatory agencies or the consumers. It also pleaded for the Zhengzhou market regulator to assign prestigious and qualified third-party testing facilities to begin the assessment process and restore the truth as soon as possible. 

Tesla pledged to cover all the expenses for the assessment and will accept the judgement in spite of the results.

According to media report, a staff of Tesla sale firm in Zhengzhou vowed to provide data of 30 minutes prior the accident of Zhang’s defective vehicle to local market regulator by Thursday six o’clock.
The husband of Zhang, the detained protester, said to media on Thursday that he was pleased to see Tesla’s compromise but he may not trust any appointed third-party testing institution and willing to find one by himself.