Chinese regulators met with executives from Tesla recently after several government agencies reported “an unusual acceleration” of complaints from consumers about battery fires and other quality issues with the company’s electric cars.
In a post on the Chinese social media platform WeChat, the State Administration for Market Regulation said officials from five government agencies interviewed Tesla executives and “asked them to strictly abide by Chinese laws and regulations, strengthen internal management, and implement corporate quality and safety regulations.”
Tesla acknowledged its “shortcomings in the business process,” and agreed to improve the quality and safety of its vehicles, the regulator said in the posting.
The electric carmaker has struggled with quality issues as it has scaled its production from tens of thousand cars a year to 500,000 in 2020. On social media, customers have documented numerous problems with new Teslas, including large gaps between body panels, poor paint jobs and chipped glass. Those complaints have been echoed in surveys about and reviews of the company’s cars by J.D. Power and Consumer Reports.
Some of the problems cited by the Chinese regulators are not unique to Tesla. The potential for fires in the large batteries that power electric cars have forced other automakers to recall cars. General Motors in November recalled Chevrolet Bolt electric cars from model years 2017 to 2019 in the United States because they could catch fire under certain conditions. Tesla has previously said its models are less likely to catch fire than other cars.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday but the company’s chief executive, Elon Musk, recently acknowledged quality problems with its popular Model 3 sedan in an interview with an auto industry consultant, Sandy Munro.
Last week, Tesla recalled 135,000 vehicles in the United States to deal with a problem with touch screens in its Model S and Model Y cars. The screens had been found to have a high rate of failures. Tesla had initially resisted recalling the cars but came under pressure to do so by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
In a letter to the U.S. auto safety regulator last month, a Tesla executive said the screens, which drivers use to control many of the functions of their cars, were not meant to last more than five or six years.
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