Tesla said that cameras installed in its vehicles are not activated outside of North America, playing down a previous report of Tesla cars being denied entry into Chinese military compounds due to security concerns.
On March 19, Bloomberg reported that Tesla vehicles had been barred from entering Chinese military complexes and residences because of fears about their in-built cameras and sensors possibly collecting sensitive data.
“Even in the U.S., car owners can freely choose whether to turn on their cameras. Tesla cars are fitted with a network security system featuring world-leading security levels to ensure user privacy protection,” the U.S. electric carmaker said on Wednesday in a statement on Weibo, a Twitter-like social media platform in China.
Wednesday’s statement came after Tesla CEO Elon Musk defended his company’s position on automotive cameras in a speech delivered at a virtual forum which was held by China’s State Council and not long after the Bloomberg report of the ban.
“If a commercial company did engage in spying, the negative effects to that company would be extremely bad … For example, if Tesla used the cars to spy in China — or anywhere, any country — we will get shut down everywhere,” Musk said at the forum.
Counting the Chinese market as one of its most important sales drivers, Tesla currently runs a plant in Shanghai where it assembles the Model 3 and Model Y, and is deepening localization of component manufacturing in the country to further reduce costs.
Last week, Tesla announced that it delivered 184,800 vehicles worldwide in the first quarter, which the company said was helped by “the strong reception of the Model Y in China.” It did not break out sales by geography, but the U.S. and China are its largest markets and nearly all sales were contributed by the Model 3 and Model Y.
Contact reporter Ding Yi (firstname.lastname@example.org)