As you may remember, Tesla was up against a host of claims related to brake failure in China. In fact, one person protested at an auto show, which seemed to start the ball rolling. After that, several people claimed their Tesla vehicles failed to brake, which resulted in accidents. The situation became so dire that Tesla's cars were banned from certain areas for safety concerns.
Since then, Tesla has gone after the accusers for spreading misinformation. According to the company, the brakes in its cars were not the issue, but rather, operator error. Some Tesla owners in China have already issued public apologies after admitting they made up the stories. In addition, others in the media and on social media have apologised for spreading the misinformation.
Recent articles published by CnEVPost and Teslarati note that one of the most publicised cases of "brake failure" came from a Tesla owner in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province. Now, over a year after the alleged incident, the owner has apologised, admitting that he made up the information to discredit Tesla. The owner made it clear that he accidentally pushed the accelerator pedal rather than the brake pedal.
Back in August 2020, the owner, Mr. Chen, said he lost control and hit a whole line of cars before being able to stop. He even posted video clips in an attempt to show that the Model 3 was not only failing to brake, but also suddenly accelerating on its own. Mr. Chen since wrote in a statement shared by CnEVPost:
"After the accident, I was upset even though I knew I had pressed the accelerator pedal instead of the brake."
"I have been insulting and defaming Tesla Inc. and Tesla vehicles since mid-August 2020 by continuing to fabricate content on Douyin, Weibo, radio and TV interviews about Tesla's automatic acceleration and brake failure, and about how to cherish life and stay away from Tesla."
However, people who have been following the story since the beginning were likely already confident the Tesla vehicle didn't suddenly accelerate on its own or fail to brake. In fact, in October 2020, details from a Wenzhou Automobile Engineering Society investigation into the vehicle proved that the brake pedal was not depressed during the last five seconds before the accident.
Moreover, Mr. Chen didn't object to these details when he talked to the police. He admitted at the time that the brakes weren't applied and that he had pressed the accelerator pedal. The police determined that the driver was completely at fault.
Later, in May 2021, a more detailed investigation by the Wenzhou Automobile Engineering Society – which included data from China and the US – substantiated the fact that the incident was operator error. More specifically, it showed that the driver confused the accelerator pedal with the brake pedal.
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A court in Wenzhou decided that the owner had worked to hurt Tesla's reputation, requiring him to not only publicly apologise, but also pay damages of around $7,750. Sadly, even after the verdict, the owner continued to share misinformation related to the events.
In conclusion, Mr. Chen added as part of his statement:
"I am now conscious of the nature of my actions and regret the significant negative impact I have had on Tesla and Tesla vehicle. I sincerely apologise to Tesla and to those who were misled by my comments."
"I also hereby hope that internet users will be discerning and truthful and not be blinded by their own selfishness and the compulsions of others."