Tags: China | tesla | ceo | elonmusk | spying

Elon Musk: Tesla Won't Share China Auto Data With US

Elon Musk: Tesla Won't Share China Auto Data With US
SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk poses on the red carpet of the Axel Springer Award 2020 on Dec. 1, 2020, in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Britta Pedersen-Pool/Getty Images)

By    |   Saturday, 20 March 2021 01:40 PM

Tesla CEO Elon Musk told a high-level conference in Beijing that the United States never would be given data gathered from his company's vehicles in China or other countries because businesses that engage in spying would face "extremely bad" consequences. 

"Whether it's Chinese or U.S., the negative effects if a commercial company did engage in spying — the negative effects for that company would be extremely bad," Musk said via video link to the government-backed China Development Forum on Saturday, The Wall Street Journal reported.

He added that if Tesla's cars spied in any country, the company would be shut down worldwide, and that is a "very strong incentive for us to be very confidential."

Musk's comments came after the Chinese government said it will restrict military personnel or state-owned company employees from using Tesla's vehicles, out of concerns images taken by the cars' cameras would be sent to the United States. 

But Musk said no U.S. or Chinese company would risk sharing sensitive information with their home governments, and added the United States' concerns about commercial espionage are overblown. 

He used the example of the video platform TikTok, which had faced a potential ban year in the United States because of complaints that it gathered sensitive information. 

"Even if there was spying, what would the other country learn, and would it actually matter?" Musk said. "If it doesn’t matter, it’s not worth thinking about that much."

Musk said the United States' concerns about Chinese spying through TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese tech company Bytedance Ltd., were irrational because most of the videos on the platform are of people "just doing silly dances."

Tesla, meanwhile, has gotten strong support in China, including in Shanghai where it got permission to set up operations in the city. 

In 2018, Tesla was the first foreign automaker in China to be permitted approval to have a factory that was wholly owned and was not required to have a local joint-venture partner. The project was financed by Chinese state banks. 

China also amounts for about a quarter of Tesla's half-million global sales. 

Tesla's first serious issue with China's authorities came last month when it was expanding its Shanghai plant, and increasing local production of the Model Y compact crossover vehicle and the Model 3 sedan. 

Last month, the State Administration for Market Regulation, the country's top market regulator, rebuked Tesla over consumer complaints about quality issues. Tesla responded by saying it "sincerely accepted the guidance of government departments" and that it had "deeply reflected on its shortcomings" and would make improvements on its product. 

Last October, Tesla recalled about 30,000 imported Model S and Model X vehicles in China because of suspension problems. There were two different defects, and some of the cars recalled had both of them. 

The recall was for vehicles imported into China. Tesla opened its Shanghai plant in early 2020, and the sales of imported vehicles dropped to only about a few hundred cars a month. 

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk told a high-level conference in Beijing that the United States never would be given data gathered from his company's vehicles in China... 
tesla, ceo, elonmusk, spying
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2021-40-20
Saturday, 20 March 2021 01:40 PM
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