Photo: Yang Hui/GT
Tesla China has filed a lawsuit against an influencer with 14 million followers on Chinese social media for simulating a malfunction of the Model 3 and publishing false data.
Last year, Tesla China launched a fight against false claims about it with the help of the company's legal department. Bloggers and influencers who posted false information were warned about a lawsuit if they did not publicly admit that they were misleading the public. This was followed by a series of public confessions from people who spread false information about Tesla vehicles and a few lawsuits against those who refused to admit to lying.
On Wednesday, it was reported that Tesla's legal team in China was suing a Chinese automotive influencer with 14 million followers for defamation. The information was confirmed by the company's Chinese office to several media agencies, according to Protocol.
The influencer Xiaogang Xuezhang (小刚学长) bills himself as a car expert who makes videos about testing and tuning cars on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok. In April 2021, he published two videos comparing Tesla Model 3 and XPeng P7 automatic emergency braking systems. In published videos, he reveals that the Model 3's emergency braking system failed twice.
The video garnered half a million likes before one of the two was removed. The video's authenticity has been questioned by other influencers and Tesla owners, who have pointed to signs suggesting he may have stepped on the accelerator during testing. If Xuezhang really did this, then it would certainly prevent Tesla's automatic emergency braking systems from functioning properly. Some have also suggested that the videos were sponsored by the American manufacturer's competitors.
Recently, Xuezhang himself posted a new video in which he claims he learned about Tesla's lawsuit against him from the media. He is sure the company just wants to use him to get as much attention as possible and prevent others from speaking out against Tesla: “No one would dare stand up against Tesla and point out its problems in the future.”
In fact, if Xuezhang's video was not faked, then he has absolutely nothing to fear since the test car's malfunction can easily be proven in court. Once the court finds out which vehicle was tested in the influencer's video it can request that vehicle's data from Tesla. The data will show reliable information about whether a malfunction actually occurred, or whether Xuezhang stepped on the accelerator pedal. Based on the experience of similar situations, a Tesla malfunction has yet to been proven a single time, although inattentive drivers who drove the company's cars and got into accidents repeatedly blamed them for this.
© 2022, Eva Fox | Tesmanian. All rights reserved.
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About the Author
Eva Fox joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover breaking news as an automotive journalist. The main topics that she covers are clean energy and electric vehicles. As a journalist, Eva is specialized in Tesla and topics related to the work and development of the company.