Chinese company bought Times Square billboards to complain about faulty Teslas
1 May 2019 - Autoblog
Ride-hailing company claims nearly $1 million in lost revenue due to repairs
A Chinese ride-hailing company says many of the Teslas it bought as fleet vehicles have had major electromechanical issues. The company is called iUNICORN (also known as Shenma Zhuanche) and it originally purchased 278 Teslas between 2016 and 2017. It says 20% of those vehicles have had issues, and the average repair took 45 days to complete. In total, iUNICORN claims it has lost the equivalent of $970,000 due to the cars' problems. All the vehicles in question are either the Model S or Model X.
To air their grievances toward Tesla, the company says it rented space on three electronic billboards in Times Square. The messages reportedly displayed last Wednesday, but were only there for 30 minutes. Currently, there's no explanation as to why they were only there for such a short time, but iUNICORN has a rendering (above) of what it would've looked like if you were passing by last Wednesday.
If the "three billboards" thing sounds familiar to you, it's because the company was riffing off the film "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri." The billboards in Times Square reportedly said, "Tesla, fix it or not," "Tesla, compensate or not" and "Tesla, admit it or not." Of course, they were all in Chinese. Shenma said it chose Times Square in NYC, because it's the home of the stock market. However, somewhere in California may have been a better spot to get Tesla's direct attention. The company is apparently seeking full compensation from Tesla for all its losses due to repairs.
We've asked Tesla for its side of the story, and will update upon hearing back. Shenma has not said how much the billboards in Times Square cost to rent. However, Investopedia says it costs between $1.1 million and $4 million to rent a billboard for a year in the prime NY real estate. A whole 30 minutes probably wasn't cheap, but it was enough to get the company's point across.
One might wonder why Shenma doesn't just discuss this internally with Tesla. The company claims Tesla "has low efficiency in internal communications," and they "take too long." Therefore, Shenma went with billboards instead.