Tesla China is reportedly suing the “brake failure” protester who climbed on top of a Model 3 display unit during the Shanghai Auto Show back in April.
Tesla China is suing the protester, Zhang Yazhou, for defamation, according to local sources. The company also demands an apology and retribution of RMB 5 million (~$700,000) for damages caused to the brand.
After her protest, Zhang claimed that the Model 3 had a faulty braking system. In May, the former Tesla owner filed a defamation lawsuit against Tesla at the Beiguan District People’s Court in Anyang, Henan Province.
She claimed that her family experienced abuse and mental stress because of statements from Tesla China’s VP of External Affairs Grace Tao and the company’s branches in Beijing and Shanghai. Zhang demanded an apology and RMB 50,000 (~$7,000) from Tesla.
Zhang’s protest sparked a barrage of similar brake failure claims in China by other Tesla owners. Later, Tesla China’s legal team cracked down on Tesla owners and even local media outlets who made the brake failure claims for entertainment purposes, or just to join the trend.
For instance, one Tesla Model X owner posted a TikTok video that supposedly showed a brake failure incident in his car. Later, the Tesla owner admitted to staging the skit for entertainment purposes only and issued an apology.
Tesla is no stranger to claims trying to tarnish its reputation. Back in the United States, Tesla is currently being criticized for its recently released FSD Beta button. In addition, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched a formal investigation on Autopilot. Most recently, five Texas officers filed a lawsuit against Tesla after a drunk driver crashed his Model X into their vehicles.
Since the brake failure protest and numerous claims by Tesla owners of similar incidents, Tesla China has beefed up its legal team. From the string of apologizes, Tesla has received for issuing false claims about the company, the legal team is not going easy on anyone spreading fear, uncertainty, or doubt about the EV car maker.