has clarified sentry mode after a Chinese airport banned Tesla vehicles from its parking lot because of the feature.

(Image credit: CnEVPost)

The banning of Tesla vehicles from an airport parking lot in China has sparked widespread discussion over the past two days. Tesla released a statement today to clarify the feature that raised questions.

Data recorded by Tesla vehicles in sentry mode is only stored offline on a USB device inside the vehicle and cannot be viewed remotely online by either the owner or Tesla, the US electric vehicle (EV) maker said in a statement posted on Weibo.

In addition, Tesla has set up a data center in China to localize data storage, it said, adding that all data generated from vehicles sold in China will be stored within the country.

Local media outlet Jiupai News reported yesterday that Sanhe Airport in Yueyang, Hunan province, has banned Tesla from its parking lot.

A sign at the entrance to the airport's parking lot contains text that reads, "Classified control area, Tesla is prohibited."

A phone operator at the airport said on August 13 that the parking lot was indeed off-limits to Tesla vehicles, according to Jiupai News.

The notice was posted a few months ago that Tesla owners could park elsewhere near the airport if they had parking needs, according to the operator.

Another operator was quoted by Jiupai News as saying that the move was because Tesla vehicles come with a certain mode that videotapes the surroundings after the owner leaves.

Tesla vehicles are now banned from many venues and airport employees' Tesla vehicles are not allowed, the operator said.

The report doesn't directly mention the name of the Tesla mode, but it's apparently "sentry mode," which has become standard on most smart EVs.

Sentry mode is a smart safety feature that is now standard on all major smart cars and is not unique to Tesla, the US EV maker said in a statement today.

When Tesla vehicles are shipped from the factory, the feature is turned off by default and needs to be manually turned on by the owner, the statement said.

With sentry mode manually enabled, the vehicle will alert the owner if it detects a threat such as possible damage or theft of the vehicle and record suspicious activity, Tesla said.

The vehicle will save the video footage to an installed USB device to bring car security to users, the statement said, adding that the feature has already assisted the police in solving a number of vehicle damage and theft cases.

Unlike some brands that can remotely view a vehicle's surroundings via sentry mode, this data for Tesla vehicles is currently only stored offline in the vehicle's USB device, and neither the owner nor Tesla can remotely view it online, it said.

Earlier today Tesla cut the prices of its hot-selling SUV Model Y in China and started subsidizing insurance for Model 3 inventory vehicles.

($1 = RMB 7.2383)

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