PRC government bans Tesla vehicles: sources
Employees at some Chinese government offices have been advised not to park their Tesla Inc vehicles on government premises due to security concerns with their cameras, two people familiar with the matter said.
People said officials from at least two government agencies in Beijing and Shanghai received verbal instructions from supervisors not to park their Tesla vehicles at work.
It is not known how many vehicles were affected, people said, declining to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.
It was not immediately clear whether all government offices in Beijing had imposed such restrictions, nor whether the measure was an official government injunction or a measure adopted by agency officials.
It was also unclear whether the restrictions applied to state agencies across the country.
While sensors and cameras that can aid driving are featured in the vehicles of many automakers, people with knowledge of the subject said the restriction only applied to Tesla vehicles.
In March, Tesla vehicles were banned from entering some military complexes in China, sources told Reuters at the time, citing security concerns over their cameras.
Neither the Chinese State Council Information Office, which handles media inquiries for the Chinese government, nor Tesla officials in China immediately responded to requests for comment.
The restriction provides a new indication of China’s lingering distrust of the U.S. automaker amid tensions with Washington.
Facing closer scrutiny of security and high-profile customer service complaints in China, Tesla is stepping up its engagement with regulators and strengthening its government relations team, industry sources previously said.
China, the world’s largest auto market, is Tesla’s second-largest market, accounting for around 30% of its sales. Tesla manufactures Model 3 sedans and Model Y sport utility vehicles at a plant in Shanghai.
Automakers such as Tesla have equipped more vehicles with cameras and sensors that capture images of the vehicle’s surroundings. Controlling how these images are used, and where they are sent and stored, is a rapidly emerging challenge for industry and regulators around the world.
Tesla vehicles are equipped with several external cameras to help drivers with parking, lane changes, and other features.
Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has frequently commented on the value of the data captured by Tesla vehicles, which can be used to develop autonomous driving technologies.
Days after the March ban on Tesla vehicles at military complexes, Musk appeared in a video from a high-level Chinese forum, claiming that if Tesla used vehicles to spy in China or elsewhere, it would be shut down.
Tesla said it plans to open a data center in China and is developing a data platform for owners of its vehicles in China.
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