Liu Tao, the co-CEO of Alibaba-backed IM Motors, commented on November 17 regarding a recent fatal incident involving a Tesla vehicle in China. The executive said he believed that the Amercian EV maker had resorted to incredible excuses and even caused vehicle owners to monitor brake pedals with cameras.
Liu claimed, “A certain brand’s mode of declaring safety is staggering! Technology and data should not be accomplices to sophistry. Arrogance and coldness will not make a great brand.” At the same time, he called on Chinese consumers to stop enduring it. At the end of the blog post, he added a label stating “Chaozhou Tesla Accident With Third Party Appraisal.”
A Tesla Model Y in Chaozhou, Guangdong Province recently drove out of control for 2.6 km and crashed into several cars, resulting in two deaths and three injuries. According to the vehicle owner’s family member, the owner had been driving for more than 20 years, and slammed on the brakes but failed to slow down the vehicle. Tesla said that the background data showed that the driver did not step on the brake pedal throughout the whole process. Extensive speculation has since emerged about the cause of this traffic accident, but a final confirmation has yet to be announced.
Liu is the first car company executive to make a public statement regarding the incident. IM Motors is an electric vehicle joint venture between Chinese automobile manufacturer SAIC Motor and Chinese technology companies Zhangjiang Hi-Tech and Alibaba. However, perhaps considering that the investigation results have not yet been announced, 48 minutes after posting, Liu set the blog statement to be visible only to himself. After eight minutes, the post became public again. As of press time, the post cannot be found.
At the 12th China Auto Forum, Liu bluntly disagreed with Lei Jun, the founder of Xiaomi, asserting that “smart electric vehicles are electronic consumer goods,” because he believed that vehicles have applications and underlying operating systems.
Application OS refers to all applications related to smart cabins. The underlying OS refers to all the systems related to the mechanical quality of the car itself, such as steering, braking and chassis. In Liu’s view, although the two are juxtaposed, there are priorities. If there is only a limited development budget, all the needs of the latter must be met first, because vehicles’ demand for safety is of the utmost importance.
Liu is not the first vehicle insider to publicly comment on Tesla accidents. The last one was Su Jing, a former Huawei executive and self-driving vehicle industry veteran. Su previously said at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in 2021 about Tesla’s self-driving accidents that they are bound to happen when machines and humans live in symbiosis, “to put it bluntly, it’s killing people.” Su was transferred from his post by Huawei for making inappropriate remarks. Recently, it was reported that Su has joined the automatic driving software company jointly established by Volkswagen and Horizon Robotics.
Tesla vehicles have been reported to experience braking failures many times, among which the two biggest issues have been a rights protection incident involving a car owner at the Shanghai Auto Show last year and an accident involving Jimmy Lin, a Taiwanese singer and actor. Despite many controversies, Tesla’s sales in China continue to rise. In the Chinese market, Tesla sold 71,704 units and 335,351 units in October and the first 10 months this year. In the global market, Tesla delivered 908,573 vehicles from January to September this year, up 45% year-on-year.