Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk used an opportunity to speak to an audience in China to strenuously deny the electric carmaker would ever use a vehicle’s technology for spying.
Appearing on Saturday at the China Development Forum, a conference organized by a unit of the country’s State Council, in a session titled: The Next Disruptive Innovation?, Musk said that if Tesla ever used its cars to spy in China, or anywhere, we would get “shut down everywhere.”
“If a commercial company did engage in spying, the negative effects to that company would be extremely bad,” said Musk, who was beamed in remotely from America, where it was late in the evening. “For example, if Telsa used the cars to spy in China — or anywhere, any country — we will get shut down everywhere. So there’s a very strong incentive for us to be very confidential with any information.”
His comments came less than 24 hours after Bloomberg reported that Tesla’s cars have been banned from Chinese military complexes and housing compounds because of concerns about sensitive data being collected by cameras built into the vehicles. China, the world’s biggest market for EVs, is key to Musk’s global growth ambitions. The company sold more than 130,000 locally-built Model 3 sedans last year in the nation, now its second-largest market after the U.S.
The ban, relayed to residents of military housing and others this week, was triggered by concerns that Tesla is collecting sensitive data via cars’ in-built cameras in a way the Chinese government can’t see or control, a person familiar with the matter said.