Tesla says sorry to Chinese buyers in U-turn to its ‘no compromise’ on ‘unreasonable’ customer grievances as pressure mounts on social media and state press
- “We are deeply sorry for the delay in resolving the owner’s issue,” Tesla said late Tuesday night on its Weibo account
- China’s social media and state press weighed in on the latest controversy surrounding the bellwether producer in China’s electric vehicles market
“We are deeply sorry for the delay in resolving the owner’s issue,” Tesla said on its official account on the Weibo microblog site. “We always try our best to actively communicate with our [customers], look for solutions and we will fulfil our responsibility.”
“Users’ complaints about the quality of its Chinese-made cars are sounding an alarm at Tesla,” said Eric Han, a senior manager with the business advisory firm Shanghai Suolei. “It is not enough to knock down Tesla’s sales, but it does damage its image.”
Monday’s protest at the premier trade show of the world’s largest vehicle market was not Tesla’s first run-in against Chinese public opinion.
Tesla’s executives were hauled before five ministry-level authorities in February, and grilled about the quality of its Shanghai-made Model 3s. The carmaker, which delivered 140,000 Model 3s last year, pledged to “make rectifications,” according to media reports. In the same month, Tesla apologised to China’s State Grid – the state-owned utility – for “misleading consumers” in a war of words over what damaged the inverters on a batch of Model 3 vehicles.
Monday’s protest stunt at the Shanghai Auto Show quickly snowballed, as video clips of the yelling woman on the roof of a Model 3 quickly went viral.
It did not take long for China’s state media to weigh in on Tesla, after the carmaker maintained on Monday that it would “not compromise” on “unreasonable” customer complaints.
“Who gave Tesla the courage to not compromise?” asked a headline on an article published on Tuesday morning by Xinhua News Agency, the Chinese government’s mouthpiece media.
Changanjian, the social media account operated by China’s top law enforcement agency, the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, beseeched Tesla to “respect Chinese consumers and comply with local laws and regulations.”
“Where is Tesla’s responsibility, if the pioneering carmaker cannot provide safe products and cannot provide solutions to users when issues emerge?” according to the blog.
In its response, Tesla said it “respects and firmly complies with decisions of the relevant government departments, respects consumers, abides by laws and regulations, and actively cooperates with all investigations by government authorities,” according to the carmaker’s statement. “Tesla, as always, is grateful for the trust and tolerance given by our consumers, netizens and media friends, and listens attentively to suggestions as well as criticisms.”
Additional reporting from Orange Wang at the 2021 Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan