Tesla removed the word "autopilot" and a Chinese term for "self-driving" from its China website after a driver in Beijing who crashed in "autopilot" mode complained that the car maker overplayed the function's capability and misled buyers. The Tesla driver crashed earlier this month while on a Beijing commuter highway after the car failed to avoid a vehicle parked on the left side, partially in the roadway, damaging both cars but causing no injuries. It was the first known such crash in China, though it follows a fatal accident in Florida earlier this year that put pressure on the auto executives and regulators to tighten rules for automated driving. "At Tesla we are continuously making improvements, including to translations," a Tesla spokeswoman said in an emailed statement to Reuters. "We've been in the process of addressing any discrepancies across languages for many weeks.
To drive around that pothole, Tesla plans to build its first factory in China--its second-largest market, accounting for around 17% of sales last year. The auto maker bought a 210-acre plot in Shanghai this week to build a factory it says could eventually produce up to 500,000 cars a year. In turn, Tesla could become the first foreign car maker to have a wholly owned factory in China. First it will need to find some cash. Tesla boss Elon Musk said in August that the Chinese factory will cost around $2 billion, though Goldman Sachs, for example, reckons total costs could amount to $4 billion to $5 billion.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk says the new autopilot software might have prevented the crash that killed a man in Florida in May. Model S dash displays what the car sees. SAN FRANCISCO - Tesla Motors is grappling with yet another fatal crash involving one of its electric Model S sedans, an incident in China that preceded the May death of a customer in Florida. Back in January, a Model S driven by 23-year-old Gao Yaning of Hebei province crashed into a street sweeper at highway speed. The news was first reported by Reuters Wednesday citing China's CCTV.
Tesla has been working on enhancing its Autopilot self-driving feature, and the upcoming update might make its cars even safer than human-driven vehicles. The update will cap the top speed to the preset speed limit when the vehicle's Autosteer function is used, TechCrunch reported citing sources. Autosteer is a Tesla feature that controls the wheel and maintains the car's lane. If speed limits could be imposed using the updated software, it would make vehicles less prone to accidents. A Purdue University study in 2008 found that most drivers on U.S. roads don't follow speed limits, which is one of the major causes of accidents.