英文

Editorial:Car safety and supervision are no trivial matters

【明報專訊】A Tesla owner has made a high-profile protest against Tesla at the Shanghai Auto Show. Car safety issues should have been addressed in accordance with rigorously written laws, but the competent government departments and car company have failed to observe the laws strictly, resulting in a huge farce between China and the West while issues such as safety and after-sales service have not undergone due rational discussion. How similar incidents can be addressed in the future needs everyone's reflection.

In 2018 Tesla CEO Elon Musk visited China and finally decided to build a Gigafactory in Shanghai. Construction started in January 2019, and in the same year the factory began to churn out cars. The company had been caught up in the trade war between the US and China, with then US President Donald Trump demanding US companies move production back home to increase the rate of employment. However, Musk did the opposite and became an anti-Trump hero. As the pandemic raged across the world, he expanded the manufacturing plant and production line in Shanghai to export Chinese-made electric cars to Europe, contributing to the value of output, job opportunities, and foreign trade in China.

Despite a series of car safety issues that occurred in the US, Tesla still enjoyed great popularity among Chinese car maniacs. But recently, complaints about the safety of Tesla's electric cars have surfaced in China. At the Shanghai Auto Show last week, a woman wearing a T-shirt carrying the words ''brake failure'' climbed onto the roof of a Tesla car and shouted. Tesla became ''the despicable one'' overnight.

Ironically, it was after the car owner went to such extremes to protest against Tesla that the company responded passively to the complaints. However, when interviewed by the media, the company's senior management accused the protester of being deluded by a competitor into ''making such an unwise move''. The state media condemned the accusation immediately. The State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) demanded Tesla submit the event data record concerning the 30 minutes prior to the accident to the car owner. Tesla submitted the report immediately and stated that it ''firmly follows the decisions of all the relevant government departments, respects customers, and complies with the related laws and regulations.''

Netizens were ecstatic on all social media platforms as soon as they learned that Tesla had admitted its mistakes. The car owner and all ''bystanders'' have all commented that Tesla had it coming.

Auto manufacturers always pay attention to car safety issues, because once the safety of cars is proven to be unreliable, the manufacturer is very likely doomed. Meanwhile, if the car safety of an auto brand is thrown into serious doubt, insurance companies will refuse to insure its cars, and government departments will have an unshakeable supervisory responsibility.

How an automaker should provide after-sales services, handle car owners' complaints and execute public relations campaigns to address media queries is the automaker's business decision to make. If these are not handled well, a company will be committing a slow suicide. It is a political responsibility that the government departments should actively supervise the market. If the government does not do a good job of this, it will let down the people. Now, both Tesla and the SAMR have failed to do their bit. If this dispute leaves a foreign company and government departments with no choice but to succumb to populism, enterprises, the government and society as a whole will have to pay an unnecessary price.

明報社評 2021.04.26:莫把汽車安全當兒戲 不將汽車監管當鬧劇

一名車主在上海車展高調抗議特斯拉(Tesla),汽車安全問題本該按嚴謹的法律處理,但政府有關部門及車企都沒有嚴格執行,反而招致一場聲勢浩大的華洋糾紛鬧劇,而汽車安全問題以及售後服務等問題卻得不到應有的理性討論,此後同類事件如何處理,各方都需要反思。

2018年特斯拉首席執行官馬斯克到中國,最後決定在上海建超級工廠,2019年1月動工,同年產出汽車,當時正值中美貿易戰,特朗普要求美國企業都回國生產以提高就業率,馬斯克反其道行之成為「反特英雄」,疫情肆虐,馬斯克在上海擴建廠房和生產線,生產電動車出口歐洲,為中國提供產值、就業機會和外貿作出貢獻。

特斯拉在美國頻現汽車安全問題,但仍然受到中國車迷青睞。直到最近,特斯拉電動車被投訴安全問題在內地漸次出現,上周在上海車展上,一名女子身穿寫着「剎車失靈」T恤站在特斯拉展車車頂大聲疾呼,特斯拉一時間頓成「過街老鼠」。

諷刺的是,直到有車主以激烈手段抗議,特斯拉才被動地回應車主的不滿,但高層在接受媒體訪問時,反指抗議者是受到競爭對手蠱惑才會「出此下策」。此舉馬上遭到官媒譴責。市場監督總局要求特斯拉公司向車主提交涉事汽車在車禍發生前30分鐘的行車紀錄。特斯拉不但立即交出報告,還表示「堅定服從政府各相關部門的決定,尊重消費者,遵守法律法規」云云。

網民得悉特斯拉「認低威」,隨即在各種社交媒體上欣喜若狂,無論是車主還是「旁觀者」,無不表示特斯拉早知今日何必當初。

汽車生產商都會重視安全問題,因為一旦被證明安全不可靠,幾乎就等於判這間生產商「死刑」,同時,若某品牌汽車安全度受到嚴重懷疑,保險公司不會願意承保,政府部門也負有無可推卸的監督責任。

汽車生產商的售後服務以及如何處理車主投訴的手法,如何應對媒體質疑的公關手段,是商業決定,處理不好等於慢性自殺,政府部門如何主動積極監管市場,是政治責任,處理不好是失信於民。現在,特斯拉和市場監督總局都沒有做到應有的本分,如果由此而導致洋企業和政府部門要屈服於民粹主義,企業、政府和整個社會都要為此付出不必要的代價。

■/ Glossary /生字 /

competent /ˈkɒmpɪtənt/:having the power to decide sth

churn out:to churn out sth means to produce large quantities of it very quickly

ecstatic /ɪkˈstætɪk/:very happy, excited and enthusiastic; feeling or showing great enthusiasm

■英語社評聲檔:link.mingpao.com/53000.htm

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