Chinese regulators call in Tesla over customer complaints

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BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese government officials have met representatives from U.S. electric carmaker Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) Inc over reports from consumers about battery fires, unexpected acceleration and failures in over-the-air software updates, a regulator said on Monday.

China’s State Administration for Market Regulation said in a social media post its officials, along with those from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, Ministry of Emergency Management, Cyberspace Administration and Ministry of Transportation, had met Tesla “recently”, without giving a date.

The officials urged Tesla to operate according to China’s laws and protect customer rights, the regulator said.

In response, Tesla said it would thoroughly investigate the problems reported by consumers and step up inspections.

“We will strictly abide by Chinese laws and regulations and always respect consumer rights,” a company representative said in a text message, adding that Tesla accepted the guidance of the Chinese government departments.

Tesla is building Model 3 electric sedans and Model Y sport-utility vehicles at its Shanghai factory. It sold 15,484 China-made vehicles in January.

The industry ministry in May urged Tesla to ensure consistency in its China-made vehicles after some Chinese customers complained about less advanced computer chips in their cars.

China, the world’s biggest auto market, is pushing the industry to make more electric vehicles as it tries to reduce air pollution.

Sales of electric, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen-powered vehicles in China are forecast to rise to 20% of all new car sales by 2025 from just 5% now, the State Council said last year.