Tesla [TSLA:US] is taking steps to boost its engagement with Chinese regulators and is improving its government relations team, as reported by Reuters on May 3, citing people familiar with the matter. According to the sources, over the past weeks, Tesla was present on at least four policy discussions covering topics such as data storage, car recycling, carbon emissions, and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication technologies. The sources mentioned that the company was normally absent in previous such closed-door meetings with regulators, unlike some other foreign automakers such as Toyota [7203:JP] and General Motors [GM:US]. One of the people familiar with the matter also disclosed the firm is increasing its government relations staff in the country, looking to hire managers responsible for maintaining relationships with industry associations and the government, as shown in two recruitment advertisements on Tesla’s official WeChat account this April.
Tesla’s efforts to improve its engagement with the Chinese government regulations came as the EV company is facing some customer criticism in the country. In February, officials from regulatory entities including the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) and the MIIT had talks with Tesla over customer reports about failures in over-the-air software updates, battery fires, and unexpected acceleration on its cars. Tesla has in China its second-largest market behind the US, and in 2020 the company has more than doubled its sales in the country with USD6.66bn, representing 21% of the firm’s total USD31.54bn sales. In Shanghai, the California-based automaker manufactures its Model 3 and Model Y, selling 15,484 vehicles made in its Chinese plant in January 2021. Earlier in April, the firm submitted a document to Shanghai authorities outlining plans to add recycling facilities on its Gigafactory in the city, with capabilities to restore EV parts such as battery cells and electric motors.