Tesla Responds to Braking System Failure Controversy in China Amid Social Media Frenzy
Following days of social media controversy and heated discussions, Tesla China has responded to allegations of issues regarding the Model 3 braking system.
Questions around the Tesla Model 3 braking system started to gain attention on Chinese microblogging platform Weibo over the past week. One Tesla Model 3 owner took her grief to social media, claiming that a braking failure caused her to experience a car accident.
Ms. Zhang, the owner of the 2020 model, alleged that the system failure caused her to collide with two other cars in late February, an incident in which two people were injured.
Zhang’s father was the driver at the time of the car accident. According to the traffic police collision report issued that night, Ms. Zhang’s father failed to keep a safe distance from the other vehicles and was deemed to be fully at fault for the accident.
Ms. Zhang ran into complications throughout her negotiations with Tesla in early March. On March 6, Ms. Zhang took actions against her local Tesla service shop in Henan province. Ms. Zhang refused to have the car repaired and demanded that Tesla provide her with a full refund and compensate her lost wages. Ms. Zhang also organized a picket-line protest blaming Tesla for the alleged brake system issues.
Local authorities made some mediation efforts between Ms. Zhang and Tesla but did not succeed. Tesla insisted that there are no issues with the Model 3 braking system, and accused the driver of surpassing the speed limit. Tesla claimed that Ms. Zhang’s 2020 Model 3 was travelling at 118.5 km/h at the time of the collision, and the system did not detect any signs indicating problems with the brakes.
Ms. Zhang released a statement following Tesla’s public comments on the issue on Thursday, claiming that Tesla refused to disclose the driving records from their systems. Ms. Zhang also felt skeptical of Tesla’s data authenticity and refuted the company’s assertion that her father had been driving over the speed limit at the time of the accident.
This incident is not the first time that Tesla has run into controversies regarding the safety of its vehicles. Chinese media outlet 21st Century Business Herald summarized more than ten counts of Tesla system failures that resulted in crashes and accidents. Those issues include unexpected accelerations of the vehicle and the vehicle losing control. Some of these accidents led to multiple injuries, including an accident documented in June 2020 that ended with the car being destroyed by fire after crashing.
Tesla denies having any issues with its systems, often blames the drivers for causing the accidents. 21st Century Business Herald further reported that the company’s strategy seems consistent in other countries such as the United States and South Korea. Business Insider has demonstrated how Tesla has been engulfed in quality control issues for years. Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk even admitted that the Tesla product quality varies depending on the production cycle: when the company is trying to rapidly increase its production, the product quality decreases. Furthermore, Musk suggested that customers should consider buying their Tesla models at specific times to ensure the best qualities.
Concerns regarding the quality of Tesla products have also attracted the attention of Chinese authorities. In February 2021, five Chinese government departments met with Tesla representatives in Beijing and Shanghai to urge the company to improve its product quality.
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Nonetheless, controversies surrounding Tesla’s vehicle quality has not stopped consumers in China from placing their confidence in the electric car brand. According to CNBC, Telsa earned $6.66 billion last year in China, accounting for 21% of its global revenue. The sum is more than double Tesla’s 2019 revenue in the country, $2.98 billion. It is worth noting that Tesla started to sell its vehicles produced in China to Chinese consumers in the past year. Tesla Model 3 is the most popular electric car in China, and the company is planning to make model Y in the country, its second-largest market.