Tesla Driver Dies in Rear-end Collision with Truck in South China, Sparking Further Safety Concerns
A driver of a Tesla vehicle died after rear-ending a truck in south China’s Guangdong province, raising a new round of safety concerns involving the US electric car maker’s vehicles.
Surveillance video capturing the fatal accident in Shaoguan city on May 7 shows the Tesla sedan traveling through an underpass at high speed before crashing into the truck in front of it.
In a statement released on the same day, local police confirmed that the driver died at the scene and investigations are ongoing. It did not mention Tesla in its statement.
Tesla told Chinese media that it is looking into the incident and will fully cooperate with authorities on the investigation.
The Guangzhou accident is one of the many issues troubling Tesla in China in recent months. Last month at the Shanghai Auto Show, a woman wearing a t-shirt with the words “brake malfunction” climbed atop a Tesla vehicle and protested the car maker’s handling of her complaints. The woman, named Zhang, blamed a brake failure in her Tesla Model 3 for a pile-up accident in February.
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Last Thursday, Zhang filed a lawsuit against Tesla China and its vice president Tao Lin for defamation, demanding a public apology and 50,000 yuan (US$7,740) in compensation. Tao previously said in interviews that someone behind the scenes might have helped orchestrate Zhang’s protest.
Questions regarding Tesla’s brake system have been appearing in multiple cities across China. On April 17, a Tesla Model 3 vehicle rammed into a wall on the side of a road in Guangzhou, killing a passenger. Tesla said in a statement that it is fully cooperating with authorities on the investigation.
Facing mounting concerns, Tesla has agreed to release vehicle data to independent investigators to clarify suspicions concerning its brake system.
Chinese state media Global Times reported that there are more than ten suspicious accidents involving Tesla’s electric vehicles in the past year. Victims of those accidents claimed that their vehicle went out of control for various reasons, from failures in the brake system to the self-driving system.
These issues have prompted the US electric vehicle maker to develop a platform for its customers in China to access their own vehicles’ data, which is a first for any automaker. Tesla said in a statement that the data platform is expected to launch sometime this year. The Chinese government has also requested Tesla to store data collected from its electric cars in China in the country.
Reuters reported that senior officials from Tesla have attended at least four policy discussions involving topics such as auto data storage, vehicle-to-infrastructure communication technologies, car recycling and carbon emissions. Tesla is also expanding its government relations team in China after the electric vehicle manufacturer experienced a series of issues and negative press coverages regarding its China operations.
In addition to ongoing safety concerns, Tesla was summoned by five Chinese government authorities in February over quality assurance issues. In March, the company’s vehicles were banned from entering Chinese military properties.
Bloomberg reported earlier that Tesla is increasing the price of its Model 3 sedan in China by 1,000 yuan (US$155) starting from Saturday, citing cost fluctuation. This will drive the basic model price up to 250,900 yuan (US$39,005). Tesla currently produces its Model 3 sedans and Model Y sport-utility vehicles in its Shanghai factory.