Daily Management Review

The Term "Self-Driving" Removed by Tesla from its China Website


The Term "Self-Driving" Removed by Tesla from its China Website
After a driver in Tsala car in Beijing crashed in "autopilot" mode and who later complained that the car maker overplayed the function's capability and misled buyers, the automaker removed a Chinese term for "self-driving" from its China website.
The Tesla car that the aforesaid driver was driving, failed to avoid a vehicle parked on the left side but partially in the roadway and the car and the driver crashed earlier this month while on a Beijing commuter highway leaving both cars damaged but causing no injuries.
There has been increased pressure on auto executives and regulators to tighten rules for automated driving following a fatal accident in Florida earlier this year. However this was the first known such crash in China.
The word "autopilot" had also been removed from the Tesla's Chinese website and was clearly absent on the website when checked on Sunday. However on Monday, the term was subsequently reinstated.
"At Tesla we are continuously making improvements, including to translations," a Tesla spokeswoman said on Sunday in an emailed statement to Reuters while answering questions 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," the spokeswoman said in the statement.
According to a comparison with an archived version of the page, by late Sunday, the term "zidong jiashi" and all references to the term were removed from the web page for the Model S sedan. The term "zidong jiashi" most literally translates as self-driving in Chinese although it can also mean autopilot.
Both terms previously appeared several times on the site. Instead of the old term, the website now uses a phrase that translates as 'self-assisted driving'.
According to a Tesla employee who was not authorized to speak to the media was quoted as saying that to re-emphasize that employees must always keep two hands on the wheel when demonstrating the autopilot function, Tesla China staff have additionally undergone training in response to the Aug. 2 crash.
There have also been confirmed media reports last week itself that say that although the driver was not detected to have his hands on the wheel, Tesla said it downloaded data from the Beijing car and confirmed it was in autopilot mode at the time of the crash.
The drivers were responsible for always maintaining control of the vehicle and the system was not self-driving but merely assistive, the spokeswoman for the U.S. automaker said in a statement issued by it.
Reuters had reported last week that while demonstrating the self assistance function in Tesla cars, China sales staff took their hands off the wheel during the demonstrations. This report was based on other Tesla drivers interviewed by Reuters.
After Tesla initially struggled with distribution and charging issues, the crash is another hiccup for Tesla in the Chinese auto market, the world's largest. There has been mo response from various Chinese government ministries on the Tesla crash.