Tesla apologizes for its customer service amid mounting criticism in China

A Chinese woman went viral by protesting Tesla atop a Model 3 sedan at the Shanghai Auto Show Monday

The automaker Tesla issued a rare apology after China regulators and state media condemned it for being "arrogant" to Chinese customers over its response to a protester at an auto show in Shanghai.

Viral video showed the disgruntled woman making a scene at the company's booth on Monday.

She is seen shouting allegations about brakes malfunctioning while standing atop a Tesla Model 3 sedan, wearing a T-shirt with the company’s logo that reads "The breaks don’t work." Security eventually dragged her away from the Tesla booth – grabbing her by the hands and feet and hauling her out.

Tesla identified her as "Ms. Zhang," whose father was involved in a car crash while driving a Tesla car in February.


Zhang blamed faulty brakes for the crash and has been in contact with the carmaker for months, but the two parties have not reached an agreement, the company said.

On Wednesday night, Tesla released the driving data for the 30 minutes ahead of the accident to the Zhang family, which it had refused to provide previously, local media reported.

The company found her father's Model 3 had been going about 75 mph before the crash.

Following the incident, Tesla Vice President Grace Tao had claimed, "There is no possibility Tesla will compromise."

But that triggered a second wave of backlash on social media. Xinhua, the state-run news agency weighed in and called out Tesla for being "arrogant."

Global Times, an English-language state-affiliated publication, echoed Xinhua’s criticisms on Twitter.

On Wednesday, China’s market regulators urged Tesla to ensure its quality and announced strengthened inspections on Tesla’s operations in China, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Under increased pressure, Tesla apologized for failing to resolve the customer’s complaint in a timelier manner. In a statement posted on Weibo, a Twitter-like platform in China, the automaker promised to respect consumers and cooperate with all investigations.

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The Chinese market is essential to Tesla, which makes up about 30% of the company’s global sales, Reuters reported. The American electric car giant doubled its sales in China last year and generated a $6.66 billion revenue.