The Chinese government gave Tesla a not very subtle message after demanding it to replace suspension parts and getting the MCU recall. Five departments required Tesla “to strictly abide by Chinese laws and regulations, strengthen internal management, implement corporate responsibility for quality and safety, effectively maintain social public safety, and effectively protect consumers rights and interests.”
This is what the State Administration For Market Regulation – which deals with recalls – published on its website this February 8, 2021. The other four departments involved are the Central Cyberspace Administration of China, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the Ministry of Transport, and the Fire Rescue Bureau of the Ministry of Emergency Management.
According to these five departments, they are concerned with “abnormal acceleration (Sudden Unintended Acceleration, or SUA), battery fires, and over-the-air (OTA) updates.” There have been recent allegations in China of SUA, although the company and Jason Hughes claim that is virtually impossible to happen.
Regarding battery pack fires and OTA updates, they are related to a Shanghai fire that triggered an update that capped cell voltage in the Model S. In the US, David Rasmussen is suing tesla. His lawyer, Edward Chen, accuses Tesla of trying to hide issues with the battery pack: reducing the vehicle’s capacity to accept charging affects its range.
Reuters managed to get an official response from Tesla in China, where it still keeps a Press Relations department active. The official response from Tesla to the Chinese government is that it “will strictly abide by Chinese laws and regulations and always respect consumer rights.” The company also promised to “thoroughly investigate the problems reported by consumers and step up inspections,” according to Reuters.
This episode is the more recent one of Tesla having issues with the Chinese government. When it installed HW 2.5 in its cars instead of HW 3.0 unit, Tesla was reprimanded by the Chinese government and obliged to replace them with the right components.
After it disputed the need for the suspension recall to NHTSA, Tesla had to apologize after one of its employees said the Chinese State Grid was to blame for an overload that damaged the inverter in a Model 3, according to Caixin.
Although it may seem that the Chinese government is just telling Tesla it is watching its steps, the way these five departments phrased this warning shows there are obvious targets and expectations about them. It will be wise to follow how this develops there.