Tesla Places Pointless 'Self-Driving' Option On Hiatus
Tesla Motors is abandoning the “fully self-driving” purchasing option on all of its vehicles. The option debuted in 2016 as a way to ensure your new car would be future-proofed and able to incorporate autonomous features. But those upgrades never really came — leaving customers who spent $8,000 angry enough to file a class-action lawsuit against the company for failing to deliver on its promises. At least they still got those EV tax credits and free access to the company’s fancy new Autopilot chip (which is also a bit of a mystery item).
The option appears to have been removed from Tesla’s website this week — prompting customers to ask CEO Elon Musk what was up after he announced a rejiggering of the Model 3 lineup. According to a tweet from Musk, the self-driving option was removed because it “was causing too much confusion.”
Well, whose fucking fault was that?
While we can praise Tesla for beating the odds and being the first automaker to make electric vehicles trendy and relatively easy to live with, it’s been pretty irresponsible about how it markets advanced driving aids. Autopilot may be one of the best driver-assistance packages on the market, but the name has encouraged some motorists to take a hands-off approach while using it. Likewise, the “fully self-driving” option turned out to be a flat-out lie — even if it was an unintentional one.
Consumer Watchdog and The Center for Auto Safety became noticeably upset about this, issuing a letter to the Federal Trade Commission on what they considered “deceptive and unfair practices in advertising and marketing” on the part of Tesla’s marketing team.
Tesla has had some understandable setbacks within its autonomous development team, stalling overall progress. But it had to know it wouldn’t be ready for quite some time and that consumer patience has limits when it introduced the self-driving option two years ago. While it may be a relatively fresh-faced automaker in the grand scheme of things, it’s not unreasonable to hold it to the same standard as established manufacturers on something like this. Tesla isn’t alone in over-promising autonomy right now. Still, no other automaker offered to charge customers for tech that didn’t yet exist in their vehicles.
According to Bloomberg, the option is likely only taking a temporary leave of absence. Last month, Elon notified employees that Tesla needed about 100 more staffers to join an internal testing program for full self-driving capabilities. We’ll have to see if that’s actually what happens, as rumors state Tesla would need additional hardware to achieve level 4 autonomy.
Let’s also not forget that Musk promised that Version 9 of Autopilot would “ enable full self-driving features” last June. That update has already been launched via the company’s over-the-air updates. We know it stepped up road and sign recognition but has anyone out there noticed their Model S making solo trips to the store? Maybe you also have to buy the $5,000 chip when it comes out.
[Image: Tesla Motors]
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