By on May 20, 2020

On Monday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that his company’s full self-driving (FSD) suite stands to become more expensive starting in July. Intended to serve as the prerequisite hardware for truly autonomous functionality once the software is ready, it’s proven a pricey way to get into brand’s more advance driver assistance features. Of course, the company sells it as a way to buy into complete vehicular autonomy — something that has yet to be realized anywhere in the industry — and has so far failed to deliver on that front.

Luckily for Tesla, the company remains on the bleeding edge of available automotive technologies while continuing to improve the basic fit and finish of its products. As no one else is delivering self-driving vehicles, the Californian EV manufacturer can get away with making certain claims about FSD — like how it’s inching closer to figuring out how to navigate a car through an urban environment.

Musk actually signaled that new features would be coming to the suite earlier this year, noting incoming price increases through 2020. Starting July 1st, FSD becomes an $8,000 option (tacking on a grand to the current price) and may eventually become a subscription model. 

If your ears just perked up, that’s probably because you’re not a fan of subscription models either. While they work wonderfully for podcasts and streaming services, automakers dabble with them as a way to make customers pay endlessly for features as vehicles shift into being perpetually connected to the internet. In April, Teslarati chronicled a discussion with Musk and EV hacker/enthusiast Greentheonly after he had discovered Tesla’s source code now includes a subscription plan for FSD.

To its benefit, Tesla’s code suggests FSD subscriptions will be pay-as-you-go — allowing customers to pay for the privilege of enabling or disabling features on the fly. But it also raises questions about how older vehicles that already bought into FSD will be handled. Tesla has already proven itself capable and willing to remove enhanced Autopilot features and performance upgrades once cars enter the secondhand market. We also cannot say with any certainty that the next batch of updates will make the driving assistance suite more appetizing.

With Tesla hinting that legitimate self-driving will come by the end of this year, most watchers assume a major update is on the way to help legitimatize the price increase. Today, the $7,000 upgrade adds navigate on Autopilot, automatic lane change, auto park, a summon option, and traffic light and stop sign control. “Autosteer on city streets” is slated to arrive after the fee goes up.

[Image: JL IMAGES/Shutterstock]

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17 Comments on “Tesla’s ‘Self-driving’ Suite Grows More Expensive, Subscription Model Likely...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    FSD is the definition of vaporware. It will never work, and will never be deployed on a public road; the lawyers will see to that.

    Even worse, taking money for FSD for new sales is Fraud #1. Fraud #2 is removing the option upon resale/trade, so either the first owner, the used car dealer, or the new buyer gets ripped off.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      I think full self-drive will eventually work. It would be legal on the road once it’s better than a human – which can be done in time. Ground-penetrating radar-based navigation and some of the “see-around-corners” technology that’s under development could make it happen. It will also take a new type of AI that’s still in its infancy. The problem is that by the time the technology is ready, any car produced today with FSD will be rusting in junkyards being photographed by one of Murilee’s great-grandchildren.

      That’s one option I’m definitely going to skip myself. I’m probably going to use the money instead for aftermarket upgrades.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      Moral of the story is don’t pay Tesla a penny extra for it’s software upgrades. Just buy the basic car.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      Is FSD covered by Tesla insurance? If your Tesla gets totaled does it cover FSD on the replacement?

  • avatar
    Old_WRX

    And, your FSD subscription expires when you’re napping at 80 mph on the turnpike… disengage…

    Or, like the way these things work on (other) computers, the internet connection will drop out and your Tesla’s won’t be able to verify that you have PAID for FSD…

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Subscription service? No thanks. A car costs enough as it is. If people actually added up the cost of their monthly subscription services, I’d bet its easily over a hundred bucks a month, probably knocking on two hundred. A family plan on cell service alone is over a hundred. Add in streaming services, cable, internet, and on and on…

  • avatar
    tylanner

    Is a leased Life one worth living?

    Absolutely….but we should heed that very uncomfortable feeling that accompanies any immaterial transaction…

  • avatar
    aja8888

    Wait, wait, wait….Musk already announced FSD would be 100% buy (insert previous dates). We have to still pay? I don’t understand….

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    My vehicle registration and insurance are on a subscription model. My all-in cost per mile for personal vehicle ownership is skyrocketing right now, due to very low miles (see “Pandemic”).

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Increasingly, vendors want a steady income rather than an occasional lump sum. Leases and subscriptions do that. They avoid fluctuations in cash flow and force customers to replace obsolescent, but serviceable, products sooner.

    • 0 avatar
      Old_WRX

      You’d thing the green types would be raising a ruckus about the environmental impact of all this planned obsolescence, and about how manufactured items in general are becoming more and more short lived and disposable. They like to say: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle; but fail to ever mention build to last, repair and rebuild.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    2017 – it’s coming, give us your money
    2018 – it’s coming, give us your money
    2019 – it’s coming, give us your money
    2020 – it’s coming, give us your money

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Tesla is a reminder/warning of how dangerous cults can be.

    Musk’s behavior and the company’s attitude on FSD is reprehensible. GM ignition switch reprehensible.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they required a subscription to open your glove box.

    • 0 avatar
      Imagefont

      Don’t let it expire with something valuable inside!

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      Sat in a brand-new Cadillac inside the showroom several months ago – the glovebox is opened using a capacitive ‘touch’ switch. My mind reeled going through all the possible failure modes [through the seasons and various use cases and over time].

      Also set off a piercing alarm (again, inside the showroom) when I opened the hood – I suppose that isn’t done these days. [Can only imagine the scowl that Melody Lee would have shot in my general direction.]

      The glove compartment in my daily driver has a latch and a keyed lock. I like it even better now.

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