What happens when you purchase a car, only to find that it isn’t as described? This was the question that Han Chao, a Tesla Model S owner in China, found himself in two years ago.
In June of 2019, Han purchased a second-hand Model S from Tesla. It had been described as having never been in an accident. After having issues with the car, Han took it to a third-party mechanic for a once over, to find that the car had been in some kind of serious prior crash leading to cutting and welding repairs in its structure.
Han sued Tesla for sale fraud, eventually winning in a ruling that resulted in him being awarded triple the car’s value in damages, as well as a full refund on the car. Despite its own records showing that the car had been crashed and repaired months before the sale, Tesla appealed the decision … but the courts knocked them back.
You’d think the story would end there, but it doesn’t. According to reports, Tesla has decided to sue Han for defamation, in a suit worth 5.05 million yuan (or around $1,000,000), over his posts documenting his story on Chinese social media website Weibo.
On top of detailing his car’s issues, Han’s social posts have referred to Tesla as a “rubbish company” and a “rogue company”.
The South China Morning Post quotes Tesla as stating that: “Han has been spreading his words through a series of online and offline actions … leading the public to have a negative impression of Tesla, causing damage to the company’s reputation.”
The quote was sourced via a legal document that Han posted online. Tesla themselves are yet to respond to the Chinese outlet’s requests for comment.
Han doesn’t appear to be scared by the threat of legal action, continuing to post publicly about the case. “Do you mean to say, even though you need to pay me more than 1 million yuan in compensation, even though I am the victim, I cannot say a bad word about you and need to pay 5 million as a price?” he said, following Tesla’s reactionary suit.
While Tesla has taken some credible strides of late, the brand has a mixed reputation for both its second-hand sales model and its ability to repair vehicles. Some claim that the brand removes some features from second-hand models prior to their re-sale, while the brand has also been known for lengthy waiting periods for repairs.