While many carmakers were busy announcing concepts and upcoming cars at this year’s Shanghai Auto Show, Tesla had other things to sort at its car show booth. A protestor there climbed atop a Tesla Model 3 and began yelling about alleged faulty brakes in Tesla’s cars, from a Bloomberg report.
The woman wore a t-shirt with a Tesla logo that read “Brake lost control,” and repeatedly yelled the same phrase before booth security detained her, per Bloomberg:
The woman has been identified simply as Ms. Zhang, according to a Tesla statement cited by the Wall Street Journal. Zhang has been connected to previous protests in which she claimed that the brakes in he father’s Model 3 failed and endangered her family in an accident earlier this year, according to the WSJ:
Tesla said in a statement on Weibo that the protester was a Tesla customer from Henan province whose father was involved in a February accident in which his Model 3 had crashed into another vehicle.
The woman had demanded a full refund, claiming that a technical problem with the car had caused the crash, according to Tesla. However, the company said that the woman’s father had crashed due to excessive speed. The company said it had been in contact with the woman and was willing to help her find a solution.
Tesla seemed to strike a conciliatory tone about the woman’s situation, claiming that it has attempted to negotiate with the woman and reach a satisfactory conclusion in the accident’s aftermath.
A top executive and one Tesla vice president, Grace Tao, went on to say that she was confident many customer complaints are based on misunderstandings, however, and that may not be the best quote to provide in situations like these. Essentially, Tao’s remark from the WSJ is a hand-wave and “user error” rebuttal to issues that are far removed from the innocuous but annoying errors tech users go through.
When product faults possibly endanger peoples’ lives, tensions flare and you get situations exactly like this protest. So, it seems the exchanges between Tesla and Ms. Zhang have not been going well for either party and this is not the first of protest Ms. Zhang has been involved in, according to Bloomberg. This latest protest didn’t end well, with security members having to physically restrain the protester.
Tesla bolstered security in its booth following the altercation, but at that point it seemed moot given that the woman caused a very public commotion which began trending on social media and garnered much attention and solidarity from other Tesla owners with their own grievances.