Tesla may be credited for turning the automotive industry on its head and pushing forward battery-powered cars and power solutions, but that might not be what it’s remembered for. Company CEO Elon Musk has long been promising a future of fully autonomous cars, but its Full Self-Driving (FSD) feature, despite the name, barely makes the grade. The capability has been one of Tesla’s most controversial features, and the controversy just keeps coming with this latest pre-announcement from Musk.
Tesla cars have two features with names that spark the imagination and, at the same time, engender some confusion. Autopilot, a standard feature on all its models, offers basic driver assistance like automatic emergency braking, while the optional Full Self-Driving package adds more on top, including automatic lane changing and “smart summon.” The two names have been criticized as misleading, as drivers presume they can keep their hands off the wheel despite Tesla’s fine print and repeated warnings.
Tesla’s FSD is also controversial in one other aspect: it currently costs $10,000 to have this software installed for the select few owners who can afford it. That figure represents a $2,000 increase over the $8,000 Tesla initially asked for when it launched the beta in 2020. There’s also an option to get FSD as a monthly subscription priced at $199.
Fast-forward to January 7 and Musk revealed on Twitter that FSD will get another $2,000 price hike in the US starting on January 17, bringing the full price to $12,000 for the add-on. This will also cause the subscription price to increase, though the CEO is more tight-lipped on those figures. Perhaps more worrying for Tesla fans, there is an explicit note that the price will go higher as FSD code gets closer to production release.
Despite these two price increases in less than two years, FSD has yet to deliver a package that is true to its name. Even the beta features, which are available to an even smaller number of “verified” owners, are still considered a Level 2 autonomous system (via The Drive). In a nutshell, this means these driver assistance features, no matter how advanced, still require human monitoring and intervention.
Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped Tesla owners from expecting too much from their electric cars, even those with Autopilot driver assistance only. This has led to a number of unfortunate accidents, including a few casualties. Tesla repeatedly points out the explanations and warnings attached to the features but refuses to change the names to something less confusing.