Tesla removes 'self-driving' from China website after Beijing crash

Mon Aug 15, 2016 3:04pm EDT
 
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By Jake Spring and Alexandria Sage

SHANGHAI/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Tesla removed a Chinese term for "self-driving" from its China website after a driver in Beijing who crashed in "autopilot" mode complained that the car maker overplayed the function's capability and misled buyers.

The Tesla driver crashed earlier this month while on a Beijing commuter highway after the car failed to avoid a vehicle parked on the left side but partially in the roadway, damaging both cars but causing no injuries.

It was the first known such crash in China, although it follows a fatal accident in Florida earlier this year that put pressure on auto executives and regulators to tighten rules for automated driving.

A check of Tesla's Chinese website on Sunday showed that the word "autopilot" had also been removed. But that term was subsequently reinstated on Monday.

"At Tesla we are continuously making improvements, including to translations," a Tesla spokeswoman said on Sunday in an emailed statement to Reuters when asked about the removal of the terms "autopilot" and "self-driving."

"We've been in the process of addressing any discrepancies across languages for many weeks. Timing had nothing to do with current events or articles."

References to autopilot and the term "zidong jiashi," which most literally translates as self-driving, although also means autopilot, were taken off the web page for the Model S sedan by late Sunday, according to a comparison with an archived version of the page.

Both terms previously appeared several times on the site.   Continued...

 
A man looks around Tesla Motors' Model S P85 at its showroom in Beijing January 29, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo