Tesla mocked on Times Square billboards by Chinese firm

Tesla mocked on Times Square billboards

Typically, unhappy Tesla owners express their dissatisfaction with their vehicles via YouTube videos, message board posts, and angry tweets. Chinese ridesharing company Shenma Zhuanche has taken a different, slightly more bombastic approach. The firm put billboards in Times Square criticizing the automaker for the poor quality of its cars last month.

Shenma Zhuanche launched the publicity stunt to address the problems it’s had with its 278 Teslas. The company alleges 20 percent of its American cars encountered electromechanical problems. The corporation further states extended repair times left that portion of its fleet inoperative for the equivalent of 40 days.

Nearly $1 Million in Lost Revenue

The Chinese organization also claims Tesla’s customer service wasn’t very good either. Despite being a large, longtime client, the firm says the electric vehicle maker was slow to respond to complaints or offer solutions. Consequently, the service is demanding the manufacturer compensate it for its $965,000 in lost revenue.

The aggrieved ridesharing company got the idea to publicly shame Tesla from a recent Oscar-winning movie. In the 2017 film “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Mildred Hayes (Francis McDormand) erects a series of billboards to shame local law enforcement into prioritizing her daughter’s murder case.

Shenma Zhuanche’s electronic billboards strongly urged Tesla to fix the malfunctioning cars, pay the company for its troubles and admit its culpability. Unfortunately, its clever advertising campaign was not public for very long. Quartz reports the firm’s messages were taken down a half hour after going up without explanation.

So far, the automaker has yet to respond to Shenma’s accusations.

Big Talk, Weak Performance

Funnily enough, being publicly criticized by a former customer was not the worst thing to happen to Tesla last month. On April 3, the firm announced its Q1 2019 financial performance missed analyst expectations.

The California-based company tried to rally by holding an investor event touting the superiority of its autonomous driving systems. Unfortunately, CEO Elon Musk used the occasion to bash former partner Nvidia.

The executive claimed Tesla’s new in-house semiconductors were better than those made by the market-leading chip manufacturer. In response, Nvidia ruthlessly debunked Musk’s assertions that his firm was the world’s best component company.

The automotive concern also had to deal with an explosive product malfunction in China last week. Inexplicably, one of the company’s Model S roadsters burst into flames while sitting in a Shanghai parking garage. Notably, the Chinese meltdown represents the 14th time a Tesla vehicle has suddenly caught fire.

The brand’s recent financial underperformance, technical issues, and poor management have greatly displeased Wall Street. In late April, the corporation’s stock hit its lowest level since January 2017. Furthermore, analysts from investment firms like Evercore have publicly advised traders to sell their stock in the electric vehicle producer.

A New Lawsuit

As bad as the organization’s April was, it’s May isn’t looking much better. On Wednesday, the family of a Model X owner who died while using his car’s self-driving program filed a lawsuit against Tesla. Walter Huang’s widow, Sevonne, claims the luxury sedan’s design was defective and led to her husband’s untimely death.

Huang’s lawsuit will likely further reduce the brand’s market capitalization. Recently, Musk bragged that Tesla’s autonomous operation systems were so good, it would be launching a robo-taxi service in 2020. Given recent events, the brand’s expansion in ridesharing should be put on hold.