The United States based electric car maker Tesla has been branded as being an arrogant company in on Chinese social media platforms as well as by Chinese state media and regulators following outrage on social media in the country after a woman protested against the services of the company at a major auto show earlier this week.
This could turn out to be one of the biggest public relations challenges for the company in a country which is considered to be critical for its growth.
At the auto show in Shanghai in China, a woman demonstrated against the company by climbing on to a Tesla car claiming to be a customer of a company and alleged that her complaints with the company about the brakes in her cars were not being heard. The videos of the woman that have gone viral on Chinese social media show her wearing a T-shirt that read “brakes don’t work.”
Social media was filled with comments that indicated that the issue raised by the woman was not as new one as many other Tesla owners had been making the same complain about the company’s car’s braking systems for a number of months.
The protesting woman was later identified by the police to have the surname Zhang and announced that she had been sentenced to five days detention for disturbing public order.
Ion its defence, Tesla has alleged that the woman was involved in a crash in February because of “speeding violations”. The company said that it had been negotiating with the woman for woman for two months during which she had not agreed to a third party inspection of her car but demanded a refund instead.
The woman was expecting to het a high level of compensation form the company but Yesla found no reason to give it to her, said Tesla’s vice president for China, Tao Lin, in an interview with Chinese financial news publication Caijing.
It would not compromise with “unreasonable demands”, Tesla said in a post on Twitter-like Chinese service Weibo.
However government agencies and the state media had quickly got involved in the issue. While a string of editorials were published by state-run news outlets, a warning statement to Tesla was issued by the Chinese government’s central disciplinary commission.
“The arrogant and overbearing stance the company exhibited in front of the public is repugnant and unacceptable, which could inflict serious damage on its reputation and customer base in the Chinese market,” one of the editorials said of Tesla according to local reports.
According to a CNBC translation of the Chinese-language text, the US based electric auto maker was advised to respect the Chinese consumer market, said one state media article titled “Three lessons Tesla ought to learn”.
“The arrogant and overbearing stance the company exhibited in front of the public is repugnant and unacceptable, which could inflict serious damage on its reputation and customer base in the Chinese market,” the state-backed tabloid Global Times said in a separate opinion piece.
Tesla apologized in a statement for not solving the car owner’s problems in a timely manner.
(Adapted from CNBC.com)