The court also ruled the owner must issue a public apology in a local newspaper.
A Chinese owner of a Tesla Model X must pay the EV automaker a fine of RMB 10,000 (about $1,412) and issue a public apology in a local newspaper following a court's ruling in a defamation case in favor of the defendant, Tesla.
Per Teslarati, the automaker's Chinese legal team secured a win against this individual following their claims to the media describing the Model X as a "killing" or "suicide toy."
The owner, only identified as Mr. Wen, reportedly drove his Tesla from Fuyang to Zhengzhou when, according to him, it suddenly decreased in speed from 100 km/h to 60 km/h, or 62 mph to 37 mph. Following this, Wen told local media the vehicle's brakes failed, thus turning it into said "suicide toy." Furthermore, Wen said no one from Tesla China reached out to him following the incident to discuss things.
Tesla was having none of this. The company successfully provided evidence in court that this was not the case. A member of the Tesla China staff reached out to Wen the day after the alleged incident to get additional details. The staff asked Wen if they could inspect the vehicle, but he refused, following multiple attempts.
Wen got himself into real trouble because he continued making statements to the media that were not true, making the situation appear as if Tesla was outright ignoring his problem.
Tesla proved otherwise. It went on the offensive against Wen because it felt its reputation was unfairly damaged. The court agreed. "This court holds that civil subjects enjoy the right of reputation. No organization or individual may infringe upon the reputation rights of others by insulting or slandering, a translation of the court's ruling reads.
In this case, the defendant stated in an interview that no one contacted him after the vehicle involved in the case broke down.
This is not the first time a Chinese Tesla owner has slandered the automaker. A little over a year ago, Tesla China sued an owner who publicly protested her Tesla's brake failure at the 2020 Shanghai Auto Show (see images below). Tesla is often able to prove its vehicles are functioning properly thanks to the vehicle's so-called "black box."
Accessing this recorded data allows Tesla to see how the vehicle was functioning during the alleged incident. At the end of the day, data wins against someone's word, for better or worse.