Things took a turn for the worse for Tesla over the weekend when a recall for over 285,000 of the company’s vehicles was initiated in China. The reason? Chinese officials said a defect in certain Tesla vehicles could prompt them to accelerate unexpectedly.
Tesla has faced similar claims before and brushed them off as false. China's State Administration for Market Regulation stated that 249,855 Model 3 and Model Y vehicles and 35,665 imported Model 3 vehicles produced at Tesla’s Shanghai Gigafactory were being recalled.
One auto industry consultant says the extent of the recall is, in all actuality, not as big as it seems. Tu Le, founder of Beijing-based consulting firm Sino Auto Insights, told CNN that the issue can be resolved through a software update that doesn't require customers to return their cars.
"It's just a patch," he said. "Most [customers] probably will not know anything's happened to their car."
Tesla apologizes and vows to follow rules
Tesla issued its acknowledgment of the recall and vowed that it would "strictly follow national regulations and keep improving our safety protection."
Sorry or not, Tesla faces some credibility issues in China. The automaker was recently the target of a protest by dissatisfied customers at the country's largest auto show. Industry watchdogs have also questioned the quality of the Model 3 vehicles Tesla produces in Shanghai. There have also been reports of a growing number of inspections by China's military.
Rather than hope for the best, Tesla has decided that it needs to work on fixing its image in China now rather than later. In May, it set up a new data center in China’s mainland to keep tabs on any vehicles it sells there.