Tesla on late Thursday announced (in Chinese) that, earlier in the day, it had mailed to a customer surnamed Zhang the full data logs for the 30 minutes prior to the accident involving her Model 3 sedan. The company also released to the public data of the car for one minute prior to the crash.
In a statement sent to state-owned media China Market Regulation News, Tesla said the vehicle was traveling at 118.5 kilometers per hour (around 73.6 mph) when the driver, Zhang’s father, hit the brake for the final time before the crash. Then the car’s automatic emergency braking system reacted 2.7 seconds later and the crash occurred after another 1.8 seconds.
The US automaker insisted that the car’s brake functioned properly throughout with the car continuously slowing down to 48.5 kms per hour before the crash occurred. The company said that it is currently in negotiation with the owner to set up an inspection of the car by a third-party institution. Tesla pledged to fully cooperate with regulatory departments for more in-depth investigations and accept without reservation criticisms from the public.
Zhang in early March told Chinese media that her Model 3 crashed one late afternoon in February when her father was driving at a speed of around 60 kms per hour on a highway in Anyang, a city in central Henan province. Zhang insisted her father was driving under the speed limit, given that her mother and one-year-old daughter were also in the car and that the road was dense with traffic. She said that the brake failed to respond when her father pressed the pedal.
Tesla’s release comes two days after Chinese authorities asked Tesla to provide data for the crash investigation. On Monday, Zhang had climbed atop a car to protest at China’s premier annual auto exhibition.
Why it matters: For the first time China will officially investigate complaints about Tesla brake failures. Tesla owners in both the United States and China have complained about faulty brakes for years. So far, however, safety regulators have not found evidence for these claims. The company’s reputation in China has suffered in the past year as customers allege safety defects and shady sales practices.
Details: A branch of the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR), China’s top market regulator, in the central province of Henan, on Wednesday ordered Tesla to share “the full range of data” about a crash two months ago to aid its investigation. The owner of the Tesla Model 3 involved, a woman identified only by the surname Zhang, staged a widely publicized protest at Auto Shanghai on Monday. Regulators told Tesla to send the data to the owner “as soon as possible,” according to a Chinese media report (our translation).
Ge Weihua, a customer service manager at Tesla’s regional office in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, told state television channel CCTV on Thursday that the company’s head office had prepared the relevant data and the local office would share it with Zhang by 6 p.m. Beijing time.
Zhang, accompanied by two other female Tesla owners, staged a protest Monday on the opening day of this year’s Shanghai Auto Show, alleging that the brakes on her sedan malfunctioned while her father was driving in Anyang, Henan, in February, causing a crash with another vehicle. The protest was widely reported in Chinese media, with many online commentators siding with the customer.
Tesla responded later that day that the accident was due to excessive speed. Grace Tao, Tesla’s vice president of external affairs in China, told local media that “there is no possibility Tesla will compromise,” Reuters reported.
On Tuesday, national market regulators publicly instructed local market watchdogs in Henan province and Shanghai, where Tesla’s production facility is located, to protect consumers’ legal rights. Later the same day, the company issued an apology (in Chinese) for being slow to respond to the complaint.
In an additional statement, published late Wednesday on the Chinese social media platform Weibo, the US automaker requested Zhengzhou authorities appoint an officially recognized testing agency for the investigation and pledged to “accept the result whatever it might be” (our translation).
Update: Details added April 23 about Tesla’s release of crash data.