Amid an environment of suspicion that its cars could be used for spying, the United States based electric car maker Tesla has announced the setting up of a new facility in China whioch will be used to store local user data.
A new data center in mainland China has already been designed by it and it would plan to “add more” such centres in the country in the future, said the electric automaker on Tuesday. This announcement was made by the company after it recently pledged to keep any data it collects from locally sold cars within China’s borders.
“Car data security is very important,” the automaker said in a post on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform. “Tesla will make every effort to … ensure data security.”
Tesla cars were banned earlier this year by the Chinese military from entering its complexes because of concerns about the cameras equipped on the cars which could be used for spying.
A report published by The Wall Street Journal in March stated that the Chinese government had restricted both “military staff and employees of key state-owned companies” from driving the US automaker’s cars, “citing concerns that data the cars gather could be a source of national security leaks.” The reports however quoted anonymous sources.
There were also reports last week about employees owning Tesla cars of some Chinese government offices being directed not to park their cars inside state compounds due to security concerns,
He was “not aware of the situation”, said a Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at a press briefing last week when asked about the issue.
There were also no comments available in any of the reports from the ministry.
However there were also reports about the Tesla CEO Elon Musk taking personal initiative to reassure Chinese officials since the last few months by appearing before the government and using the local media to launch a charm offensive.
“There’s a very strong incentive for us to be very confidential with any information,” the billionaire said in March at the China Development Forum, a conference organized by a unit of the government’s State Council. “If Tesla used cars to spy in China or anywhere, we will get shut down.”
The recent period in China, the largest car market of the world, has been a choppy one for Tesla.
Chinese regulators had summoned the company in February this year to talk about the quality of its vehicles made in Shanghai where the company makes its Model 3 and the Model Y cars at a sprawling Gigafactory in the city. There were several issues and problems in the tesla cars that concerned the authorities including issues of “abnormal acceleration” and “battery fires.”
Musk believes that China could ultimately become the largest market for Tesla, Musk said in an interview to the state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) last month.
“I’m very confident about Tesla’s future in China,” he told the network. “The Chinese economy, I think, can do extremely well over the next decade and will become the biggest economy in the world.”
(Adapted from CNN.com)