Elon Musk really seems to be coming up with all sorts of ideas to suit customers with different tastes, and China is by no measure a small market. Thus, when there’s a chance to lose customers in the region, it’s no wonder that Tesla is prepared to go overboard. Car manufacturing giant Tesla Inc. is currently in the midst of creating cars which are tailored specifically for consumers in China, as a move to tackle the growing dissatisfaction and complaints by Chinese users about the quality of the electric vehicles produced by the company. The vehicles will be designed from the ground up to suit the needs of people in China, as revealed by one of the vice-presidents at Tesla, Grace Tao. The news was announced during the auto show that was held in Shanghai this week. International buyers don’t have to get disheartened, however, since global sale of the cars is also on the cards.
What is interesting is that during the same auto show, a woman climbed atop a car model at Tesla’s booth, and began hurling allegation after allegation regarding the brakes produced by the company, and saying that they had caused her car to crash. The video is definitely making the rounds on social media, but Tesla later claimed on Weibo that the brakes were, in fact, not faulty, and that the crash had occurred because the woman was over speeding. Nevertheless, she has managed to gain significant amounts of sympathy from many fellow Tesla users, with an interesting hashtag, “Tesla stand turned into a stage for defending rights”, getting much attention.
Tesla took its stand on the matter through a post via Weibo, saying, “We have since the start been willing to work with national and authoritative third-party organizations to thoroughly inspect the issues raised by the public. By doing this, we wish to win assurance and understanding from consumers. But we still haven’t fulfilled this wish, mainly because our ways of communicating with customers may be problematic. Secondly, we indeed can’t decide for our customers how they want to resolve these issues.”
Now it remains to be seen whether the design for the new car manages to strike a chord with the Chinese market, which is one of the most important sources of Tesla’s income, especially from the East. Last year alone, almost 500,000 pieces of Tesla vehicles were shipped to China by the company, backed by its Gigafactory set up at Shanghai, where it can produce cars at tax breaks, which are granted to it by the local government. This led to a contribution of around $6.66 Billion for the company in 2020.
This however, cannot deny the fact that Tesla has been under heavy scrutiny by users in the country, especially for the past few days, even as it continues to face competition by ingenious manufacturers Nio, Xpeng, and Li Auto. Even tech companies like Huawei are stepping into the automobile market, by signing deals to help companies create vehicles that are more technologically advanced.
This is further complicated by the fact that the Chinese government too, seems rather out of favor with the American company, which was caught up in a quality issue back in January, having received a summons by local regulatory bodies (which include the top cyperspace watchdog, market regulator, and transport authority). The summons was issued in response to consumer complaints about battery fires, irregularities in acceleration, and failures in upgrading software, among others. Back then, Tesla had claimed to “sincerely accept the government departments’ guidance”, and said that it will “strictly comply with Chinese laws,” through a Weibo post. A short while prior to this, the company had been forced to recall 20,428 imported pieces of the Model S vehicles, along with 15,698 units of the imported Model X vehicles.