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Tesla On China’s Brake Protestor: Vandalism, Refusal To Cooperate

If you’ve been following the news, you’re likely aware that a protestor stood atop a Tesla Model 3 at the Shanghai Auto Show to claim that Tesla’s vehicles have faulty brakes. She was arrested and spent five days detained. Since the protest occurred, there have been multiple developments, though many details have been unclear.

Now, Tesla has released an official statement on its Weibo page in China, explaining its side of the story. Essentially, the company says the protestor vandalized her car by spraying it with red paint. Tesla also says she refused an offer to have the car’s brakes independently tested by a third party.

Ever since the protest, there has been a lot of chatter in China. Some businesses aren’t allowing Tesla’s cars to park on their property until the “faulty brakes” are fixed. Others in China have installed cameras to film their brake pedal in case their brakes fail, so they can “prove” to Tesla that it was the car’s fault. Finally, other drivers in China are actively avoiding Tesla vehicles since they have the impression the cars won’t be able to stop and could cause an accident. 

Tesla released an earlier statement on the matter, which revealed that the woman who claimed faulty brakes wasn’t even driving the car when the brakes allegedly failed. Tesla says the car was speeding, braked some 40 times in 30 minutes, and did slow the car down significantly before it crashed. Tesla’s account of the incident seems to suggest that the car’s brakes or safety systems may have saved lives by slowing the car from traveling well over the speed limit to just 30 mph at the time of the crash.

Fast-forward to more recently, and Tesla has released a second statement. Tesla says it communicated with the protestor – Zhang Yazhou – on April 27, 2021, to offer some potential solutions. However, she had just returned from five days in detainment, and reportedly replied:

“I just came back. I need to adjust. I hope you can show an attitude that really solves the problem. When you have this attitude, we will communicate.”

According to Tesla, Zhang was in the passenger seat when her father crashed the Tesla. The automaker also says, in addition to speeding, he was traveling too close to the car ahead, so the fact that the car couldn’t stop in time was entirely his fault. The car eventually went to a local service shop, but Tesla says Zhang sealed the doors so nobody would be able to get inside the car. Tesla added that she believed someone could mess with the car’s data.

Reportedly, prior to the car going to the service shop, Zhang had it towed to an area in front of a Tesla showroom where it could sit in a public area for people to see. She put a sign on it that read “Brake Failure.” Tesla says it told her it could get third parties involved to inspect the car, and that it would pay for the inspection. The story says that Zhang wasn’t interested in this option. Tesla says she later returned to the car, which was still parked at the showroom, and sprayed it with red paint.

Tesla’s statement reads:

“On March 6, Ms. Zhang once again declared that she would reject any form of vehicle testing, and requested to return the vehicle and compensate for mental damage, medical expenses, and lost work expenses. In the Tesla store, a banner that reads “Brake Failure” was posted on the car body, and attention was drawn by means of pulling up banners and using speakers to spread Tesla’s negative comments, affecting the normal operating order of the store. Tesla staff have offered to advance the third-party inspection fees several times, but Ms. Zhang has always refused. Because of the greater impact of his “rights protection” behavior, the local police station sent out police officers to provide on-site persuasion on many occasions.”

“Since February, we have been doing our best to actively communicate with Ms. Zhang and her family. We sincerely hope that we can promote vehicle inspection as soon as possible and give a result to the friends who care about Tesla.”

Follow the Weibo source link below for Tesla’s entire response. Then, leave us your takeaways in the comment section below.

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