A popular China-based car reviewer known as "Boss Cai" reportedly aimed to damage Tesla's reputation in the country by spreading false information. Tesla sued him for defamation and came out with another victory.
You may remember, Tesla was having a very tough time in China just a few years back. There was a protest at an auto show claiming the brakes on Tesla's EVs were likely to fail. The media and social influencers picked up the story and some Tesla owners in China came forward in support of the fight against Tesla and the quality of its vehicles.
In the end, it was proven that Tesla's cars weren't faulty, and many of those who spread the information have since lost suits against Tesla and/or had to publicly apologize. Around a similar timeframe, back in 2021, Boss Cai took to Douyin (China's TikTok) to spread misinformation about the US EV maker.
Boss stated publicly that he talked with a friend who works as a Tesla supplier and learned that the company doesn't do proper quality inspections. He also shared that the inspectors used their status to convince others to provide personal favors. The car reviewer also used the videos to promote his own company while defaming Tesla. Tesla sued the personality for spreading falsities, which could damage the automaker's reputation.
Teslarati notes based on court documents that Boss couldn't bring the source in to testify because he forget the friend's name. It seemed clear to the court that Boss wasn't being honest, and if he was, he was unwilling to prove it.
The court decided in October 2022 that Boss had used the social media app to intentionally make up false stories to defame Tesla. However, the court didn't provide Tesla with the 5 million yuan ($720,000) it was asking for. Instead, Boss had to pay 100,000 yuan ($14,400) and issue a public apology. In most of the similar cases coming out of China, the losing party has been forced to apologize publically, and repeatedly.
Boss quickly appealed, but still lost. He must post his public apology on his car review website on TikTok, leaving it visible to the public for 90 days. The apology must also be posted on the reviewer's WeChat and Weibo accounts for the full duration.