China urges Tesla to keep products consistent as buyers complain about computers

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's industry ministry said on Tuesday it has urged Tesla Inc TSLA.O to keep its China-made vehicles consistent after some Chinese customers complained the U.S. electric vehicle maker put less advanced computer chips in their cars.

Tesla started delivering China-made Model 3 electric sedans from its $2 billion Shanghai factory in December, but some buyers said on Chinese social media that the control units in their cars run on HW2.5 chips, which are less advanced than the HW3.0 chips listed on their specification sheets.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology urged Tesla on Tuesday to ensure product consistency, quality and safety, according to a statement on the ministry’s website.

HW3.0 chips are necessary for the Full Self-Driving mode in Tesla’s driver assistance system, a feature that is optional when customers order Tesla cars.

In a post on its Weibo account last week, Tesla said the swap was due to a lack of supply of the HW3.0 chips and the company would replace the chip for customers who received cars with the HW2.5 systems.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tesla’s production and delivery plans in Shanghai have been disrupted by a coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 3,100 people in the world’s second-largest economy.

Passenger car retail sales in China plunged around 80% in February due to the epidemic, industry data shows.

Reporting by Yilei Sun and Brenda Goh; Editing by Tom Hogue