It was just yesterday we pointed out how a protestor at the Shanghai Auto Show "went viral" after standing on top of a Tesla vehicle and decrying the car's brakes.
Now, Chinese state media is looking for answers.
Commentary by a CCTV broadcaster has called for an investigation into Tesla's brake failures following the incident.
The CCTV commentary "said the regulator could invite third-party testing agencies that both the customer and Tesla can trust to test the vehicles," according to a Reuters report on Tuesday. At the same time, it has been reported that one of China's largest insurers has temporarily stopped providing services for new Tesla owners after the incident.
Ping An Insurance, one of China’s largest insurers, has temporarily stopped providing services for new @Tesla owners in some Chinese cities after the consumer complaint incident at #AutoShanghai2021, Sina News reported. Its renewals policy has also been tightened. @pingan_group pic.twitter.com/hq0SGIWSo3— Yicai Global 第一财经 (@yicaichina) April 21, 2021
And the, of course, there was this incident, also echoed by Chinese state media on Wednesday morning:
An unknown @Tesla owner in southern China's Nanning has parked their damaged car in front of a mall with banners claiming the vehicle accelerated automatically and had a brake failure. pic.twitter.com/1TRVnIWjwj— Yicai Global 第一财经 (@yicaichina) April 21, 2021
In a note to clients Wednesday morning, analyst Gordon Johnson of GLJ Research also pointed out that:
- it was alleged by China state media that TSLA Vice President Tao Lin was absent from a scheduled seminar on Wednesday on industrial chain security at the Boao Forum after the company's "cocky" response to a high profile consumer complaint sparked anger in China (link)
- another fiery car crash was reported in China, when the Tesla collided with a concrete barrier on the right side of the road and another small car, resulting in the death of the TSLA’s passenger on the spot, which is currently under investigation (see this link and this link)
- it was reported by state media that an unknown owner of a TSLA car in southern China's Nanning parked their damaged car in front of a mall with banners claiming the vehicle accelerated automatically and had a brake failure (link)
- NIO’s President officially called out TSLA’s “FSD” low adoption rate, seemingly also calling into question its safety, saying: “Car companies need to refine FOTA (Firmware Over-The-Air) before pushing out advanced autonomous driving to ensure the business model works properly” (link)
"These are 6 negative headlines, just overnight, in TSLA’s highest-growth car market of China. When you add to this credible allegations that the deciding US authority (i.e., the NHTSA) has used flawed data when investigating the safety of TSLA’s cars (link), it seems the conclusions made by China’s regulators in their investigations could yield a different result," Johnson wrote.
Recall, a protestor at the Auto Shanghai expo this week climbed on top of a Tesla Model 3 sedan and screamed in protest while wearing a t-shirt that said “The Brakes Don’t Work” and “Invisible Killer”. Video of the incident has caught fire in China and " hit a nerve in China, sending complaints about the company ricocheting across the Chinese internet," according to the Wall Street Journal.
The woman was eventually dragged away by security guards, but not after catching the attention of hundreds in the building - and millions more on the web. The hashtag of the incident was viewed by 150 million people on Weibo, WSJ reported.
Her plight garnered sympathy online, with one user saying Tesla was “hoodwinking Chinese consumers” and others encouraging people to buy from competitors. Another user with 5 million followers shared their "litany of complaints" about other alleged glitches with their Tesla.
In a statement, Tesla said the woman's father was involved in a February accident where his Model 3 crashed into another vehicle. She had demanded a refund from the company, blaming the crash on a "technical problem". Tesla said that her father had wrecked due to "excessive speed". A woman who claimed to be the protestor wrote on a Weibo account that she would "seek justice through the legal system" and that the incident "exposed the true face behind Tesla’s vaunted brand".
The woman was "detained for five days", according to a local police statement provided by Bloomberg on Monday night.
Even more interesting - as we continue to watch for signs of tumult between Elon Musk and the CCP - was the Global Times' quick response to the incident, broadcasting it on its Twitter feed the day it happened:
Tesla expanded its investment in Chinese market during the stormy time of Trump administration-initiated trade war. Tesla and Chinese consumers reaching a win-win result is what most Chinese people want to see. https://t.co/iNTPANqugT— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) April 20, 2021