Tesla 'Recalling' 285,000 Vehicles in China Over Autopilot Issue

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
tesla 8216 recalling 285 000 vehicles in china over autopilot issue

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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  • Ol Shel Ol Shel on Jun 29, 2021

    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.

    • See 2 previous
    • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Jun 30, 2021

      @Ol Shel 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.

  • 4runner 4runner on Jun 29, 2021

    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.

  • TheEndlessEnigma That's right GM, just keep adding to that list of reasons why I will never buy your products. This, I think, becomes reason number 69, right after OnStar-Cannot-Be-Disabled-And-It-Comes-Standard-Whether-Or-Not-You-Want-It and Screw-You-American-Car-Buyer-We-Only-Make-Trucks-And-SUVs.
  • 3SpeedAutomatic Does this not sound and feel like the dawn of ICE automobiles in the early 20th century, but at double or triple speed speed!!There were a bunch of independent car markers by the late 1910’s. By the mid 20’s, we were dropping down to 10 or 15 producers as Henry was slashing the price of the Model T. The Great Depression hit, and we are down to the big three and several independents. For EVs, Tesla bolted out of the gate, the small three are in a mad dash to keep up. Europe was caught flat footed due to the VW scandal. Lucid, Lordstown, & Rivian are scrambling to up production to generate cash. Now the EV leader has taken a page from the Model T and is slashing prices putting the rest of the EV market in a tail spin. Deja vu……
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