Tesla has alleviated potential security concerns in China by announcing it will store vehicle data locally in a posting on its official Weibo page, a Chinese social media site. Tesla owners will also be able to access their vehicle’s data, according to the company’s announcement.
Earlier this year, it was reported that Tesla’s vehicle cameras and sensors were being subjected to extra scrutiny by some Chinese government officials. A report from Reuters indicated that Tesla vehicles were being banned on State-owned company properties and military bases, and government facilities as some Government employees believed that the cars’ exterior cameras and sensors could be capturing sensitive information and transmitting it to the United States government. CEO Elon Musk later responded to the allegations by stating that if Tesla were spying on China, there would be huge legal implications and that it would never transmit sensitive data to other entities. “If Tesla used cars to spy in China or anywhere, we will get shut down,” Musk said.
As a result of the skepticism, some Tesla drivers who worked at these facilities were reportedly told not to drive their vehicles on company property.
As a result, Tesla announced that it would be storing all data captured from its vehicles in China locally to keep vehicle data security safe.
“We have established a data center in China to localize data storage and will continue to add more local data centers. All data generated from the sales of vehicles in the Chinese mainland market in China,” Tesla said in a Weibo posting. It also stated that it would open a “vehicle information query platform to car owners.”
“This work is in full swing, and the details and progress will be reported to you one after another. Thank you for your support. We will work hard to continuously improve the user experience,” Tesla said regarding the owner information platform. This will allow owners to access data generated by their cars. Sources also told Reuters that Tesla is boosting its engagement with regulators and expanding its government relations team to improve its relationship with the Chinese government.
The advancements in Tesla’s vehicle data security platform could be the result of a think tank between Grace Tao, Tesla China’s VP of External Affairs, executives of Baidu Inc., a Chinese tech company that specializes in Artificial Intelligence, and executives from Alibaba, a Chinese e-commerce platform.
Tesla currently builds the Model 3 sedan and the Model Y crossover in China at the Giga Shanghai production facility. The two vehicles placed second and fifth, respectively, in April registration figures for electric cars. Last year, the Model 3 was China’s most popular electric car.