Electric car manufacturer Tesla has changed the Chinese term for “automatic driving” on its China website after a driver in Beijing crashed his Model S sedan last week while in “Autopilot” mode.
References to the Chinese term “自动驾驶” (zìdòng jiàshǐ), which literally translates as automatic driving, were changed on the website for the Model S sedan to “自动辅助驾驶” (zìdòng fǔzhù jiàshǐ), which translates as self-assisted driving.
Reuters reported that the English word “Autopilot” had been removed from Tesla’s Chinese website, however the word “Autopilot” was present on the Tesla Model S website when subsequently referenced by WebJD China (last viewed August 15, 2016).
The Chinese Model S driver involved in last week’s crash complained that Tesla had misled him regarding the Autopilot feature’s capabilities. “Other Tesla drivers interviewed by Reuters said China sales staff took their hands off the wheel while demonstrating the function.”
Chinese traffic laws have yet to include self-driving vehicle policies. Under the current traffic laws, drivers in China are required to keep two hands on the steering wheel at all times.
Last week’s crash was the first known Autopilot-related Tesla accident in China, however Tesla is already facing potential Autopilot-related lawsuits in the United States. Similar lawsuits could very well follow in China, the world’s largest auto market.