Tesla apologized after Chinese state media attacked him for behaving towards customers, a few days after protests against the company in one of the most important markets.
The presence of the American car manufacturer at the Shanghai Motor Show this week was overshadowed by the protesters in T-shirts, stating that Tesla’s vehicles had “faulty brakes”. The incident drew heavy crowds before security guards took away protesters.
The company said a Tesla customer who took part in the demonstrations demanded a refund after the crash in February, which it claimed was caused by a brake failure. But negotiations stalled after the owner refused to allow a third-party investigation into whether the breakdown or speeding caused the crash.
Tesla added that he would take responsibility for any problems with his cars, but “our position is not to compromise with unreasonable complaints.”
But Tesla’s response drew a wave of criticism from Chinese state media, prompting the company to apologize.
“We deeply apologize for not resolving the issue with the car owner in a timely manner,” Tesla wrote in his official account on Weibo, China’s blogging platform, on Tuesday. A team has been set up to lead the protesters’ case and “work on any government investigation”.
$ 6.7 billion
Tesla’s sales in China last year
The person came after the company was accused of “avoiding responsibility” whenever it was criticized, according to an article by China’s Central Commission for Political and Legal Affairs, the Communist Party’s highest legal body. The mission is shared on WeChat, a social media platform.
Tesla’s popularity in China stems from the fact that consumers have confidence in the company, the article continues, “but arrogance, let alone a lack of respect for the Chinese market and consumers, cannot be the answer to that belief.”
Xinhua, China’s official news agency, asked in a separate post, “Who gives Tesla the confidence not to ‘compromise’?”
Tesla has great ambitions in China. His Model 3 sedan was the best-selling electric car in the country in 2020, and the Chinese compact sports off-road vehicle Model Y was recently released, which also proved to be a hit. The company reported $ 6.7 billion in sales in the country last year, making China the second largest market after the United States.
But domestic rivals are accelerating efforts to take over the company, releasing models that attract younger consumers.
“Tesla has a lot of roles,” said Tu Le, founder of the consulting company Sino Auto Insights. “They risk alienating the only place that is the basis of their ambitions.”
Chinese state media have a history of instilling feelings towards foreign companies. Brands, including Nike and H&M, were hit last month by a reaction to Xinjiang, the western region where Beijing has been accused of human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims.
A series of negative headlines in recent weeks has threatened to undermine Tesla’s success. Some military settlements in Beijing last month banned Tesla owners from parking their vehicles inside closed communities for fear that car cameras could pose a security threat. The company denied that the cameras could be used for spying.