And they have proof.
There's no doubt Tesla is the No. 1 electric vehicle automaker in the world right now. Although established brands, such as GM and Ford, are racing to catch up, Tesla currently claims the high ground and likely will for the foreseeable future. Of course, things can change but now that Tesla's new Gigafactory 3 is up and running in Shanghai, China, it will continue to expand its global reach beyond America's shores. The new Shanghai factory has been assigned to produce the Tesla Model 3 and upcoming Tesla Model Y and, although both should be identical to their North American and European counterparts, it appears there could be one significant difference and Chinese owners are not happy about it.
Reuters reports that China's industry ministry has asked Tesla to make sure its China-made vehicles are consistent with those built elsewhere following complaints from Chinese buyers.
They're claiming Tesla installed less advanced computer chips in their new EVs. Given that Tesla customers typically educate themselves about their cars even before they're delivered, expectations are high. These customers also know what their Teslas should be capable of, and therein lies the complaint. Buyers posted on Chinese social media that the control units in their cars don't run on the HW3.0 chips, but rather the less advanced HW2.5 chips. The HW3.0 chips are essential for the optional Full Self-Driving mode in the driver assistance system.
Chinese owners noticed the chip swap following a closer examination of their vehicles' specification sheets. It didn't take long for the Chinese government to notice this discussion was taking place because, well, China monitors social media like no other.
The government has since requested for Tesla to "ensure product consistency, quality and safety." In other words, a minor slap on the wrist. For its part, Tesla responded to the social media anger claiming the chip swap was due to a lack of supply of the more advanced chips and will replace the chip for buyers who received the less advanced one. Fair enough.
But would Tesla have agreed to this if customers didn't notice? There's simply no way to know.