Tesla debuts ‘FSD’ subscription for $199 per month

The interior of a Tesla Model S is shown on Autopilot on April 7, 2016 in San Francisco, California, United States.

Alexandria sage | Reuters

Tesla just launched a way for customers to subscribe to its premium driver assistance package for $ 199 per month instead of paying $ 10,000 upfront.

The driver assistance system, marketed as Full Self-Driving (or FSD), does not make Tesla’s electric vehicles safe without an attentive driver behind the wheel.

A legitimate owner told CNBC a notice it received from Tesla on Friday that said:

“Full self-driving is now available as a monthly subscription. Upgrade your Model Y … for $ 199 excluding taxes with features such as Navigate on Autopilot, Auto Lane Change, Auto Park, Summon and Traffic Lights, and Stop Sign Control to experience The currently activated functions require active driver monitoring and do not make the vehicle autonomous. “

While this person’s Tesla Model Y had all of the components needed to start an FSD subscription, other owners complained they had to pay $ 1,500 to upgrade their Tesla computer to the Hardware 3 or HW3 version update, which the company first presented at its Autonomy Day event in April 2019, to sign up.

Customers who previously purchased Tesla’s Enhanced Autopilot package, which is no longer sold, can subscribe to FSD at a lower price of $ 99 per month, but may require the HW3 upgrade.

In a subscription contract on Tesla’s website, Elon Musk’s electric vehicle maker warns, among other things:

  • FSD features are “subject to change, limited by region” and can only be used in Tesla vehicles that have newer hardware and autopilot technology.
  • Drivers are responsible for tolls, parking, or other traffic violations that occur in a Tesla operated with FSD features enabled.
  • Tesla can increase the price of a subscription at any time, but will give drivers a month in advance before charging them a new rate.
  • Owners can cancel FSD at any time, but the company will not prorate their monthly payment if they do.
  • Tesla may suspend or cancel a driver’s FSD subscription if they are using the technology, “for something unauthorized or inappropriate,” or for not paying.

All of the newer Teslas have a standard set of driver assistance features called autopilot. The autopilot or standard functions enable a Tesla to “automatically steer, accelerate and brake within its lane”, according to Tesla’s website.

The Premium FSD package enables more complex functions such as Smart Summon, with which a driver can call his Tesla to pick it up from a parking lot or a long driveway using the Tesla mobile app such as a remote control.

Tesla has also promised that drivers with FSD will soon have a feature called “Autosteer on city street”. But the company is way behind its original and even revised goals of delivering a sophisticated “Robotax”.

Musk promised a driverless Tesla demo with speakerphone and terrain in 2017. His company has yet to fulfill this mission. In 2019, Musk predicted that Tesla would manufacture autonomous robotic taxis in 2020 and cars without steering wheels or pedals in 2021.

Speaking on a conference call on Q1 results, Tesla CFO Zachary Kirkhorn said, “If you look at the size of our fleet and the number of customers who didn’t pre-purchase or lease FSD and might want to experiment with FSD, that is a great option for them. “He added,” As the subscription customer portfolio builds, over time it becomes a pretty strong business for us. “

To refine unfinished driver assistance functions, Tesla is giving some owners early access to a beta version of FSD, effectively turning thousands of everyday drivers into software testers on public roads in the United States

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for more information, including whether or not FSD subscribers were eligible to participate in the FSD beta program.

In the past few months, as CNBC reported, Tesla has also notified regulators for the California DMV and the NHTSA that its FSD and FSD Beta technology is equivalent to a “Level 2” system – an indication of vehicle automation categories that are Professional Association for Engineers, SAE International.

According to the SAE standards, last updated in May 2021, drivers of a Level 2 vehicle are expected to “constantly monitor” it, including by steering, braking, or accelerating, “as necessary to ensure safety”. Level 2 vehicles have functions such as automatic lane centering, which works in conjunction with adaptive cruise control. In contrast, a level 4 vehicle may not require a steering wheel or pedals and can be used as a local driverless taxi in restricted conditions such as fair weather.

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