You may never have heard about Zhang Yazhou, but you know what she did. On 19 April, she climbed on top of a Tesla Model 3 with a T-shirt that said “Brakes Lost Control” and “Invisible Killer” in Chinese. Her protest became world-famous but cost her five days in jail. Despite “disturbing public order,” the Chinese government seems to have given her reason in her protest by urging Tesla to improve customer care. The company already apologised.
The first strike came through an article published by Xinhua, a state-run news agency. There, the editor Luo Peipeng said it was a shame for someone to stand over a car to protest, but that it was also a shame that she felt compelled to do that because Tesla failed to “match market expectations.” According to the article, Tesla should do that to “gain the trust and favour of more consumers.”
The second one was delivered through WeChat, a popular social media in China. In its account, the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China Central Committee said Tesla did not make enough effort to find the causes for problems and improve features.
That commission also said that Tesla should respect Chinese consumers and comply with local laws and regulations. When such words come from an entity that regulates China’s courts, police, and prosecutors, it would be wise to address them, and that’s what Tesla did.
The company issued a statement on 20 April apologising for “not addressing the customer's complaint in a timely manner.” Tesla also promised to review its services and operations in China to make sure that will not happen again. The company said the same when it apologised after five Chinese departments promised to investigate three issues in its cars. The difference now is that it announced on Weibo the creation of the Special Handling Team to address customers' complaints.
Before apologising, Tesla did not seem to be very forgiving to Zhang Yazhou. The protest damaged the car in the company’s stand. Tesla said the client is “widely known for having repeatedly protested” against the brake issue but that the company would not accept “unreasonable demands.” According to the video above, she wants to return the car and get her money back.
Although she is currently detained, the customer must be satisfied for having caught Tesla’s attention but also from the Chinese government. Whatever her demands are, it will be a pity if we fail to learn how this story ends.