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Tesla is in hot water with Chinese regulators over Model S, X build quality, report says

The issues seem to be isolated to the US-built flagship models, while Chinese-built 3 and Y cars are A-OK.

Kyle Hyatt Former news and features editor
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).
Kyle Hyatt
2 min read

Tesla's Model S offers crazy performance, but if the Big T can't sort its quality issues, it could be in trouble.


There are plenty of things to praise about Tesla's automobiles. For example, they offer great range, unique styling and excellent driving dynamics. One crucial aspect of building cars that the company has struggled with continually -- and one for which it's received a healthy dose of criticism -- is build quality.

According to a report published Monday by the Wall Street Journal, those quality issues appear to be bad enough to get the Chinese government involved. The State Administration for Market Regulation -- aka China's main market regulator -- has given Tesla a stern warning and instructed the company to straighten up its act and improve its managerial processes to help shore up its vehicles' quality.

This stems from the multiple recalls that the brand has undergone in the Chinese market, including the touchscreen recall for Models S and X and a recall for a suspension issue on the two US-built Tesla flagship vehicles. None of these issues appear to affect cars built in the company's Shanghai Gigafactory.

Now, getting a dressing down from a government agency doesn't seem like that big of a deal, except you have to remember that Tesla's Chinese production operation was partly funded by several state-owned banks, and the borderline-crazy speed of its construction and subsequent launch into production was facilitated by some serious slashing of governmental red tape.

It's unclear what the next steps would be for the Chinese government should Tesla opt to not sort itself out in Fremont -- likely suspension of import privileges for Model S and X at the least -- but, whatever it is, it would certainly throw a wrench in Tesla's plans for global EV domination.

We'd normally reach out for comment from Tesla on something like this, but it disbanded its PR department. Instead, we just whispered our questions into an old Topo Chico bottle and set it adrift in the Pacific Ocean. We'll update this story if we hear back.

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