Global car makers are feeding real-time location information and dozens of other data points from electric vehicles to Chinese government monitoring centres, as President Xi Jinping steps up the use of technology to track Chinese citizens. The data-gathering generally happens without car owners' knowledge, the Associated Press found. More than 200 car makers selling electric vehicles in China -- including Tesla, Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Nissan and Mitsubishi -- send at least 61 data points to government-backed monitoring platforms, under rules published in 2016. The firms say they are complying with local laws, which apply only to alternative energy vehicles. Chinese officials say the data is used for analytics to improve public safety, facilitate industrial development and infrastructure planning, and to prevent fraud in subsidy programmes.
The Associated Press reports today that more than 200 EV manufacturers including Tesla, Volkswagen, BMW and others transmit real time vehicle data like position, engine information and battery charge level to centers backed by the Chinese government. Dozens of data points are transferred between the manufacturers and these data centers, a practice required by law in the country. The AP says specifications published in 2016 mandate that EVs operating in the country must transmit data back to their manufacturer, some of which is then shared with local centers in China. One such center, the Shanghai Electric Vehicle Public Data Collecting, Monitoring and Research Center, can pull up information on any EV driving on Shanghai roads -- more than 222,000 vehicles. And screens show where each vehicle is in real time.
Cars in China are watching their drivers and reporting where they are to the government. Authorities claim that the data is only used to ensure that the roads, cars and drivers are safe. But privacy experts fear the data could be used for more invasive forms of surveillance. Hundreds of car manufacturers of electric vehicles – including Tesla, as well as more traditional companies like Volkswagen, BMW and Ford – transmit dozens of different kinds of information to the government. The information is sent without the driver or owner of the car even knowing it.
Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk on Tuesday landed a deal with Chinese authorities to build a new auto plant in Shanghai, called the Gigafactory 3. Tesla's first factory outside the United States, it would double the size of the electric car maker's global manufacturing. The deal was announced as Tesla raised prices on U.S.-made vehicles it sells in China to offset the cost of new tariffs imposed by the Chinese government in retaliation for U.S. President Donald Trump's heavier duties on Chinese goods. China is already Tesla's second-biggest market after the U.S., selling about 17,000 cars here last year, compared with roughly 50,000 in the U.S China is the largest market for electric vehicles, and most forecasters predict that electric vehicle sales in the country will accelerate rapidly as government regulation drives toward a goal of 100-percent electric vehicles by 2030. More than 28 million vehicles were sold in China last year, and annual sales are forecast to top 35 million by 2025. That would be more than double the current U.S. market, where new light vehicle sales run at about 17 million vehicles a year.