Tesla driver death prompts resurgence of safety issue concerns

Tesla is again under fire after an accident in Shaoguan, Guangdong province in which the driver of a Tesla vehicle died in a collision with a truck on 7 May.

Although the reason behind the accident is still under investigation, the event has led to concerns about safety issues with Tesla vehicles resurfacing online. The hashtag “#Shaoguan Tesla vehicle hit a truck” (#韶关一辆特斯拉追尾货车#) hit 180 million views on Weibo. Some netizens commented that the accident was unrelated to Tesla and due to speeding, while others were more critical. Tesla has not yet responded to the case. 

The accident has happened just weeks after a protest against Tesla took place at the Shanghai Auto Show 2021. Two women who had experienced brake failure in Tesla vehicles shouted criticisms of the carmaker and were later removed.

After the protest, Tesla agreed to offer support for inspections, repairs, and insurance claims. Yet these concessions, especially that of third-party inspections, were largely rejected by owners.

Nanfang Daily posted a vote on Weibo asking consumers if they would still consider buying Tesla’s cars. Out of 6054 participators, 4454 voted no, 772 selected yes and 828 said that they were waiting for the final result.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Tesla exported the majority of the vehicles that it had manufactured in its Shanghai factory in April. The company exported 14,174 of its Chinese-made Model 3 and Model Y cars while selling just 11,671 locally, which suggests that the recent negative publicity has had an impact on the automaker’s sales in China.

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