Last week, a video from China caused an uproar in the far West: a Tesla Model Y hurtling down a city street for a good two kilometers, killing two people, before being stopped by a house and a parked car. A member of the driver’s family is said to have said that the electric car would not brake. But you obviously have to be careful with such claims in China: In another case, Tesla sued a customer and is now receiving compensation and a public apology from him.
Model X nicknamed the “suicide toy”.
A customer from the central province of Henan owns a Tesla Model X and experienced unnecessary braking from 100 km/h to 60 km/h on the way back to his hometown, reports the CnEVPost blog about the case. This was probably a phenomenon known to Western Tesla drivers as “phantom braking”: the Autopilot system incorrectly recognizes a hazard or speed limit and reacts with a severe delay.
But Tesla’s Chinese owner didn’t stop at just complaining about poorly programmed autopilot software in online media and asking for an update as soon as most people in the West did. According to the report, he gave several interviews in which he explained that the brakes on his Model X had failed, turning it into a “suicide toy.” He demanded the return of the purchase price and compensation from Tesla.
Instead, he now has to pay himself, CnEVPost continues: The court ordered the man to apologize to Tesla in a local newspaper and pay 10,000 renminbi (around 1,400 euros) in damages. Because he also claimed in interviews that Tesla did not respond to his complaint about the braking error, which the court did not find true. He was also said to have been contacted several times for a repair, but he refused it.
This is not the first time that Tesla China has sued
As CnEVPost reports, this is not the first time Tesla has made customers legally responsible for public claims. Last October, the court also sentenced the owner of the Model 3 in this case to apologize and pay 50,000 renminbi for damaging the company’s reputation. A little over a year earlier, he crashed into several other cars and claimed his Tesla was caused by unintended acceleration and brake failure. A family member of the driver in the current fatal accident in China made a similar statement. So if it doesn’t stop there, he may soon find himself in court.