An apology is also demanded.
This ordeal all began last April at the Shanghai Auto Show. For those who don't recall, an angry owner of a Tesla Model 3 took out her rage against the automaker by climbing onto the roof of a display vehicle at the event and hurling accusations of brake failure. She even wore a special t-shirt written in Chinese that translates to "Tesla brake lost control," in reference to her car's alleged brake failure. It didn't take long for event security to haul her away.
Almost 18 months later, Tesla China is suing the protestor, identified as Zhang Yazhou, for defamation of RMB 5 million, around $700,000 USD. An apology is also demanded.
One month after the show, Zhang filed a defamation suit against the carmaker claiming mental abuse and stress following statements from Tesla China's VP of external affairs. Her claims further caused additional allegations of brake failure from other Chinese owners. Tesla immediately began an investigation and soon determined the vehicles' braking system are fine. Vehicle black box data doesn't lie, but people do.
Tesla's lawyers then demanded apologies from those it knew were not telling the truth. They only sought attention for their social media networks. To this day, Zhang continues to claim Tesla manipulated her car's data logs, which have since been made public.
Tesla says this would be impossible because vehicle data is recorded using encryption technology. It's unable to be read, changed, or deleted. Zhang, it was determined, was not operating the car at the designated speed limit; she fluctuated in speed and moments before the crash slowed down to 30 mph. The brakes were applied over 40 times only 30 minutes prior to the crash. Equally damming for Zhang is that there's no dashcam footage of the crash itself.
Tesla China clearly wants to make an example out of her to help stop these bogus claims in the future. The company has hired more lawyers in recent months mainly for this purpose.