By on June 28, 2021

The Chinese Communist Party seems to have it out for Tesla. Following bans that prohibited the brand’s vehicles from parking themselves anywhere near a military base, China’s government has decided to recall over 285,000 Tesla automobiles sold in the country. We’ve also seen state-run media outlets begin branding the automaker as irresponsible and arrogant amid consumer protests some are concerned might have been staged for political reasons. Though it’s painfully hard to get inside the head of the CCP while you hope for concrete evidence of any of the above. Propagandizing and censorship have reached a level where just about everyone is having difficulties distinguishing up from down.

What is certain, however, is that Tesla’s regional volume has taken a noteworthy hit in 2021 despite sales more than doubling the previous year. While this may have nothing to do with the bad publicity and recall campaigns, we’re betting the latest example — which pertains to customers misusing Autopilot — won’t help matters. 

Over the weekend, Bloomberg reported that the State Administration for Market Regulation had recalled 211,256 examples of the Model 3 and 38,599 examples of the Model Y manufactured inside China — in addition to 35,665 imported units. The government expressed concerns that the vehicles’ autopilot systems could be turned on automatically, suggesting that this could result in the vehicle acting in a way drivers wouldn’t anticipate. Tesla is complying with the safety recall and explained over Chinese social media that most of the repairs could be conducted via over-the-air updates.

The recall encompasses just about every Tesla model manufactured in China and is encouraging a lot of questions about how much of this is political after the CCP alleged its vehicles could be used for espionage. While there’s certainly room to entertain that scenario, Autopilot has fallen under similarly harsh criticism in the West and Tesla has been forced to issue a few recalls recently. The latest pertained to loose brake bolts and faulty seatbelts, though both were comparatively small in number.

Meanwhile, Tesla has been issuing apologies in China fairly regularly after the military placed enhanced scrutiny upon the company and protestors descended on the brand’s booth at the Shanghai Auto Show in April. The matter appeared to suppress sales temporarily, while local EV brands (e.g. Nio and Xpeng) gained ground. But things appeared to normalize by June.

Tesla has also been attempting to cater to the Chinese government by issuing routine assurances about Autopilot and the possibility of international spying. It even established a mainland data center to house and track information accumulated within China’s borders. We imagine the future will involve Tesla attempting to ingratiate itself with Chinese authorities in exchange for preferential treatment or the brand bucking that trend and being subject to the continued ire of the CCP.

That does not make some of China’s concerns about vehicular safety irrelevant, however. Automakers have played fast and loose with advanced driving aids and are now implementing insane safety protocols in an effort to transfer accountability. China’s problem with Autopilot may very well be genuine. But the recall details are vague and it’s quite clear that the government would prefer to see its own EV companies ascending rather than handing over domestic volume to an American firm. Exercise whatever amount of skepticism that feels the most comfortable.

[Image: Helloabc/Shutterstock]

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16 Comments on “Tesla ‘Recalling’ 285,000 Vehicles in China Over Autopilot Issue...”


  • avatar
    redapple

    Completely disengage with China.

    They will ‘grab’ Taiwan after the Winter Olympics and before the presidential elections in 2024. Watch. (an alpha male (a la Trump) might win the election and an Alpha will have a very different response than biden)
    The 100 years anniversary is a huge deal and XI has things to tick off his list.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      Well, reading between the lines, it feels like the CCP propaganda machine has been in high gear for the last year or so. They have been pushing anything that might make us in “the west” feel bad about ourselves, and deflect any possible future criticism of Chinese actions. I have no doubt that covers both current oppression of the Uighurs, and the possible future invasion of Taiwan. There are definitely rumblings. I hope and pray that nothing comes of them.

      • 0 avatar

        “make us in “the west” feel bad about ourselves”

        All they need to do is to support the Church of Woke in US and in the West in general. I mean to support financially like Germans did Bolsheviks in 1917. There is a feeling that US and Europe are not capable of waging serious I mean real all out war. They lost all wars after Korean war which they did not win either. On the other hand China did not win any wars either but they are on the rise, getting stronger each passing year. And after all they taking Taiwan back – it is their territory just like Crimea is a Russian territory and the woke racist West can do nothing about it. They did not start war to protect Georgia and Ukraine and Hong Kong and they will do nothing when China invades Taiwan. Nobody want to die for Taiwan including me which stole jobs from USA.

        • 0 avatar
          SPPPP

          When I hear the cave dwellers around the Kremlin are talking about geo-politics and “buffer states”, I get a bit uneasy. When I hear that the CCP and military officials are feeling good about their ability to win conflicts in the Pacific, I start to worry. Saber-rattling is all fun and games until somebody loses an eye.

          • 0 avatar
            SPPPP

            P.S. – I think it actually goes beyond financial support of political action groups. I think there are more than a handful of “correspondents” at US news organizations that are either directly on the CCP payroll, beholden in terms of journalistic access, or beholden by threats to family in Asia.

        • 0 avatar
          4runner

          One thing about Taiwan is that they have been preparing for this moment for decades. The straight of Taiwan is not easy to cross. There only a few times during the year that it can be done. There only a few landing areas as well.

          I liken Taiwan to Israel. They will not fold easily. I honestly think Taiwan will repel any Chinese invasion.

          Further, some war hawk Chinese general will probably try to take Japan’s Senkaku Islands during any type of Taiwan invasion. That would immediately pull in Japan, the US, and South Korea. China’s Navy is large from a total ship count but they only have one crappy diesel powered aircraft carrier.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            He who invades mainland China is a fool. However, China has not demonstrated any sort of expeditionary capability. The PLA having a successful campaign outside of China and their Navy establishing freedom of movement aginst an established blue water navy like the US is far from certain.

            People act like China can snap their fingers and take Taiwan. I think it is far from certain as well. An entrenched enemy on their home soil, especially when said home soil is a difficult to approach Island is always a difficult task.

            And what if it doesn’t go well for China. Can they afford a prolonged campaign that potentially makes them look weak? What if that emboldens pro democracy forces in Hong Kong. At that point honestly this becomes the sort of campaign the US Excels at…you know the sort where we don’t fight but simply fund an arm an insurgency while using the Navy to strangle the mainland economically.

            Thats probably a rosy picture for the west admittedly, but China would be incurring a significant risk here.

  • avatar
    mcs

    I’d worry more about any cars produced during the current delivery push. I’m still leaning towards a Tesla as a daily driver, but I’m trying to hold off until the new plants are up and running and there is less pressure on Fremont. From my time in auto manufacturing I learned that bad things in terms of quality happened when a production push was on.

    These recalls aren’t as bad as the GM recall on plastic jacks. Plastic jacks that break when used. Who could have guessed that one.

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    When you stop and think about it, a Tesla is kind of a self-guided bomb.

  • avatar
    Ol Shel

    The Chinese label Tesla as ‘irresponsible and arrogant’. What’s incorrect about that?

    Oh, and China got its power because the American ‘job creators’ send our jobs there so that they could maximize profits and shareholder-class dividends. And American business AGREED to share their technology in exchange for those profits. China didn’t steal anything.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Tesla built a plant in China largely to sell cars in China. And how many jobs within the US have they created between the 2 US plants? I’d say that qualifies them as job creators.

      China creates lots of jobs in reeducation camps, so there is that

      • 0 avatar
        Ol Shel

        Our Native American population would like to educate you about the benevolence of America.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          I read about that in a history book. I can read about the Chinese camps in today’s news.

          Yes, we have done some things in our past that we need to atone for. That doesn’t give China a pass to lock up a bunch of people for “reeducation”.

          And again, as a “so called job creator”, Elon Musk seems to create a lot of jobs.

  • avatar
    4runner

    Redapple is right – a movement towards complete disengagement is prudent.

    We already know the ending to this story. The PRC will fail. When it will fail – I cannot say. However, no modern government can survive long without the following:

    1. An independent judiciary – a body that make sure, as best possible, that laws are equally applied to all.

    2. The ability to expose corruption at the highest levels. This involves a free press. Yes, the press serves its own interests, but it plays an important role in exposing corruption. It is not an organ of the government.

    3. The ability to throw the bums out – the PRC has no such mechanism. Those in power have nothing to fear and there is no need to make changes.

    Yes, the PRC has dodged numerous obstacles and difficulties. However, they rely on an unending supply of cheap labor and the West’s voracious appetite for cheap goods. (Essentially, we are exporting inflation and importing deflation.) However, the era of cheap labor and open trade ties with the PRC is ending. The sooner we do, the sooner we can insulate ourselves from the upcoming economic disaster that will be the PRC.

    Sadly, the greatest victims of the PRC are the Chinese people themselves.

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