China's market regulator and other four government departments summoned Tesla over recent consumer complaints, and they urged the US-based electric carmaker to strictly abide by Chinese laws and rules and protect consumers' legitimate rights and interests.
The automaker was summoned for several quality control complaints that arose in recent months, including unexpected accelerations, battery fires and abnormal over-the-air (OTA) upgrades, according to a statement released by China's State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) on Monday.
Responding to the talks with the government, Tesla said that it "sincerely accepts the guidance of authorities", and is deeply reflecting on itself. It also vowed to thoroughly investigate the said problems to guard consumers' interests and maintain public safety.
Feng Shiming, a car analyst with Menutor Consulting, told the Global Times that the government's summon mean Tesla might be required to recall a large number of vehicles over the quality issues, and it is clearly a warning over the carmaker's negligence and "outrageous lack of responsibility."
Tesla's total revenue in China reached more than $6.66 billion in 2020, up 123.6 percent compared to the previous year, according to a report by bjnews.com
The US automaker has faced rising public scrutiny over its quality controls, and it has conducted several rounds of recalls due to faulty parts. On Saturday, Tesla announced a fresh recall involving up to 36,126 imported Model S and Model X vehicles in China because of touch-screen failures.
In October last year, Tesla recalled 48,442 vehicles in China over faulty front and rear suspensions.
Tesla has been widely accused of arrogance in dealing with safety issues in China. In late January, a Tesla Model 3 erupted in flames in Shanghai, to which Tesla only issued an initial response saying it was because of collision damage to a high-voltage battery, according to media reports.
Several accidents reportedly involving out-of-control Tesla vehicles have taken place across China, and in each case Tesla has insisted that there was no vehicle failure.
"I've never seen such an outrageous lack of responsibility from a company, especially regarding such serious safety issues," Feng said. "It is high time that the authorities stepped in and issued some warnings against the company."
Feng also said that Tesla has been avoiding its responsibility by fixing some of its software loopholes through OTA upgrades, without reporting this situation to market regulators.
In March, Tesla drew criticism after it reportedly downgraded components of its first batch of Shanghai-made Model 3 vehicles, replacing the promised new control chips with an older version. Tesla later said that this was done due to supply chain disruption during the pandemic.