Tesla affirmed on Tuesday that it would cooperate with Chinese authorities to investigate a fatal car accident involving a Model X in the eastern city of Taizhou that left one police officer dead and another injured.
Footage of the accident, reported widely by Chinese press and receiving viral attention on China’s Twitter-like Weibo, showed two traffic policemen lying on the ground next to a damaged Tesla Model X SUV. One policeman died after suffering severe injuries in the accident, local police announced later in a statement. A second officer injured in the crash is now out of critical condition, the statement said. Meanwhile, the driver of the vehicle has been kept under police supervision.
“As soon as we heard the news, we reached out to relevant departments and made a report about the situation,” Tesla said in a Weibo post on Tuesday. “We will fully cooperate with authorities in their investigation of the accident.” The company also noted that it will not disclose any further information before the case is settled.
The incident takes place as Tesla endures mounting criticism of its product quality and customer service in China, the company’s second largest market globally. News of traffic accidents involving Tesla vehicles have gone viral on Chinese social media in recent weeks after an angry customer created one of the company’s worst public relations crises by climbing atop a Tesla car at the Shanghai Auto Show last month to protest the automaker’s alleged brake failures.
Another crash is still under investigation after a Tesla sedan rear-ended a truck in southern China’s Guangdong province on May 7, killing the driver of the electric car, Global Times reported. The cause of the accident is not yet clear.
According to data released by China Automotive Information Net, 11,949 China-built Tesla cars were registered domestically in April, a sharp fall from a record 34,714 registrations in March.
The embattled EV maker is also facing heightened scrutiny from authorities in China.
In February, a group of national regulators summoned Tesla over safety and quality issues, saying that they had recently received complaints about abnormal acceleration and battery fires. Tesla responded that it would strengthen self-inspection and its internal management.
The Chinese military has banned Tesla cars from entering its building complexes, citing national security concerns over the in-vehicle cameras, Reuters reported in March. Separately, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Chinese government has restricted the use of Tesla vehicles by military personnel and employees of sensitive state-owned companies. Industry watchers said that the move echoed Washington’s actions against Huawei.
In 2019, Tesla became the first foreign car manufacturer to operate a wholly-owned factory in China with the opening of its Shanghai plant. The electric carmaker sold 120,000 units in China last year, accounting for about 30% of its total 2020 deliveries.