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Caixin

Tesla finally shares crash data to Shanghai auto show protester

Irate owner at odds with US electric vehicle maker over cause of accident

Tesla’s troubles in China overlap with questions in the U.S. about the safety of the company's partially automated driving system.   © AP

Under pressure from regulators, Telsa agreed to share vehicle data with a customer after her protest atop a Tesla car at the Shanghai auto show went viral.

Zhang Yazhou from Central China's Henan Province carried out the protest on Monday citing a crash in February involving a Tesla Model 3 driven by her father. She argued that the crash was caused by a brake malfunction, but Tesla said the driver was speeding and did not keep a safe distance from the vehicle ahead.

China's State Administration for Market Regulation said on Wednesday that it instructed regulators in Henan Province and Shanghai to protect consumer rights in accordance with the law. On the same day, the market regulator of Zhengzhou, capital of Henan, ordered Tesla's Zhengzhou branch to unconditionally provide the car owner with complete driving data covering the half-hour before the crash.

Local media reported that Tesla emailed Zhang the vehicle's driving data covering the minute before the crash and provided a text description for the full 30 minutes of data. It was a rare case in which regulators forced the American electric car giant to cough up data logs, though Tesla has been involved in multiple disputes with customers. There have been several incidents in China in which Tesla drivers lost control but Tesla maintained vehicle data showed no abnormality in the vehicles and declined to share data with car owners.

Without the involvement of regulators, vehicle owners have no legal recourse for obtaining driving data from carmakers, said He Shanshan, director of the autonomous driving law and policy center at Zhilian Chuxing Research Institute. Regulations should be established to allow access to such data by public authorities and independent review bodies to resolve disputes more efficiently, He said.

The ownership of vehicle driving data is not clearly defined in China or the U.S., He said. Existing laws give car owners the right of control over data but not ownership, and in practice, the data is usually controlled by carmakers, He said.

According to local media, Tesla's data showed that the driver of the Zhang vehicle stepped on the brakes more than 40 times in the half-hour before the crash, and at multiple points the vehicle was driving at more than 100 kph. Just before the crash, the car was moving at 118.5 kph and slowed to 48.5 kph after the brakes were applied, according to the data.

Tesla and Zhang have argued over whether the car was speeding or whether the braking system failed. Tesla said its position was based on vehicle data, which Zhang alleged was tampered with.

At the auto show Monday, Zhang climbed on top of one of Tesla's display vehicles, shouting that her car's brakes had failed. The incident was captured by scores of onlookers who then uploaded the video to social media, where it went viral. After initially pushing back against the woman's claims on Monday, Tesla apologized to Chinese consumers for not addressing the car owner's complaints in a timely way.

Tesla's troubles in China overlap with new questions in the U.S. about the safety of the company's partially automated driving system. In Houston over the weekend, a Tesla Model S slammed into a tree and killed one man in the front passenger seat and another in the back seat with no one apparently behind the wheel.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted on Monday that "data logs recovered so far show Autopilot was not enabled." The company has resisted sharing data logs for independent review without a legal order, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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Read also the original story.

Caixinglobal.com is the English-language online news portal of Chinese financial and business news media group Caixin. Nikkei agreed with the company to exchange articles in English.

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