Tesla’s quality issues here and overseas are nothing new, though they seem to be coming to a head in China, where a woman was detained this week for protesting brake failures at Auto Shanghai. Now Tesla has a new message: Tesla is sorry.
Tesla has been under fire not only from the protester but also from the Chinese state itself, in the form of Xinhua, the state-run news agency, publishing a story Tuesday saying that the quality of Teslas needed to be improved. That was followed by a statement from an arm of the ruling Communist Party that said that Tesla hadn’t respected consumers or bothered to fix problems with its products.
In response to all of this, and in response to the protestor specifically, Tesla has now apologized. From The Wall Street Journal:
“We apologize for failing to resolve the problem of the car owner in time,” Tesla said late Tuesday local time on its official account on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform. “We will try our best to learn the lessons of this experience.”
In its apology, Tesla pledged to establish a unit that would focus on delivering customer satisfaction. Tesla said it obeys decisions of government departments, respects consumers, and actively cooperates with all investigations.
Its statement didn’t directly address the allegations of faulty brakes or other quality shortcomings.
This is all, you know, bullshit, and follows remarks on Monday by a Tesla executive that took a far different tack about the protester, identified as Ms. Zhang.
Grace Tao, a company vice president who is one of Tesla’s top executives in China, told local media at the show Monday that the company had previously tried to resolve its dispute with Ms. Zhang, but that the company “cannot meet unreasonable demands.” Ms. Zhang, she said, was a “professional” protester who may have been acting on behalf of individuals who wanted to cause trouble for Tesla.
Still, this is the latest example of Tesla cracking, but only when governments get hot and bothered. This should be a lesson for China, the U.S., the European Union and everyone else who has to deal with Tesla. If you want Tesla to react, show them some teeth.