Musk Denies Tesla Cars Could Be Used For Spying

Image credit: Tesla

Elon Musk reassures China over privacy of data collected by Tesla cars’ sensors after vehicles are banned from sensitive military, government facilities

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has denied the company’s electric cars could be used to leak information from China.

If the company did so it would be “shut down”, Musk told the China Development Forum, an annual event organised by a unit of China’s State Council.

“There’s a very strong incentive for us to be very confidential with any information,” Musk told attendees via video link. “If Tesla used cars to spy in China or anywhere, we will get shut down.”

His remarks followed reports that China’s military had banned Tesla cars from its facilities, including housing complexes, over national security concerns.

Elon Musk in 2019. Image credit: Tesla


The Wall Street Journal additionally reported that the Chinese government had restricted Tesla cars for military staff and employees of sensitive state-owned companies.

Tesla cars feature a number of internal and external cameras that are used for navigation and safety purposes.

News of the ban arrived shortly before China’s first high-level summit with the US under the Biden administration, which took place in Anchorage, Alaska late last week.

The tensions openly expressed at the summit reflected a low ebb of US-China relations over the past few months.

Industry watchers said the Chinese government’s actions were probably intended to echo those of the US government in restricting Huawei.

But Musk compared Tesla to TikTok, which the US government threatened to bar from the country last year.


“The United States wanted to shut down TikTok. Luckily, it did not happen,” Musk said.

“Many people were concerned about TikTok. But I think this kind of concern is unnecessary, and we should learn lessons from it.”

China is Tesla’s largest market after the US, and accounted for about one-third of its deliveries last year.

The company became the first foreign automaker to operate a wholly owned factory in China with its Shanghai plant, which opened in 2019.

But Chinese regulators summoned the firm last month over customers’ reports of quality issues, including battery fires.

Share price jump

Meanwhile, shares in Tesla jumped 6 percent in Monday trading on a report by shareholder Ark Invest that predicted a $3,000 share price by 2025.

The asset management company predicted Tesla’s revenues would reach $367bn by 2025. Tesla’s shares currently trade at around $698 per share.

The company’s popularity in China is key to such bullish predictions about its future, analysts say.