Tesla intensifies commitment to Chinese regulators: report | Automotive industry news


U.S.-based electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc., which is being examined in China for complaints about safety and customer service, is increasing its commitment to mainland regulators and strengthening its government relations team, according to industry sources told Reuters news agency.

Tesla’s change in strategy that led to more backstage interaction with Beijing’s policymakers compared to relatively little shows the seriousness with which the automaker sees the setbacks of its second largest market, Reuters reported Monday.

It also comes at a time when China is trying to regulate large and powerful private companies, especially in the technology sector, over concerns about its market dominance.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday, a holiday in China.

As they do elsewhere, regulators in China, the world’s largest automotive market, discuss industry policies and standards with local and global companies, industry associations and think tanks.

Manufacturers usually join these meetings in China, but unlike rivals such as Toyota Motor and General Motors Co., Tesla officials were absent at the closed-door meetings, according to four people familiar with the matter.

Tesla executives attended at least four policy discussions with Chinese regulators in recent weeks, a reversal of their previous practice of staying away from closed-door meetings, industry sources told Reuters. [File: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg]

Instead, Tesla officials speak regularly at large industry conferences. Outside of China, Tesla executive Frank Elon Musk regularly takes to Twitter to comment on or criticize regulators or rules.

But in recent weeks, Tesla executives have attended at least four policy discussions, on topics such as automatic data storage, vehicle-to-infrastructure communications technologies, vehicle recycling, and carbon emissions.

Tesla, based in California, which manufactures Model 3 electric sedan vehicles and Model Y sport utility vehicles at its own plant in Shanghai, did not make notable commitments at the meetings, but participated in some discussions, they said.

Impulse of hiring

One source said Tesla is also expanding its government relations team in China.

According to two recruitment announcements in April on its WeChat account, Tesla hires executives to update a policy database and maintain relationships with government and industry partnerships to “build a harmonious external environment that supports Tesla’s business development in the marketplace regional “.

It was not immediately known how many managers planned to hire Tesla for government relations.

Representing about 30 percent of Tesla’s global sales, China is the automaker’s second-largest market after the United States and has helped it publish first-quarter vehicle delivery records.

In March, Tesla was scrutinized when the Chinese military banned the entry of its cars into its complexes, alleging security concerns about vehicle cameras, sources told Reuters at the time. . [File: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg]

Pressure has been mounting in recent months over Tesla’s mainly excellent relations with Beijing.

In February, Chinese regulators convened it to inform consumers of battery fires, unexpected acceleration, and failures in antenna software updates.

And in March, Tesla was scrutinized when the military banned the entry of its cars into its complexes, alleging security concerns about vehicle cameras, sources told Reuters at the time. Days later, Musk appeared on video at a high-level forum, saying that if Tesla used cars to spy on China or anywhere else, it would be shut down.

Last month, state media and regulators welcomed Tesla after a customer, angry at the handling of her complaint about brake malfunctions, climbed on top of a Tesla car in protest at the car. Shanghai. Videos of the incident went viral.

Grace Tao, Tesla’s vice president who runs government relations in China, was criticized in the state media last month after being quoted in a media interview to ask if the aggrieved customer was acting on her own.

In response to various complaints, Tesla has said it would establish a data center in China, launch self-inspection to improve services and collaborate with regulators.

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