Tesla Offers ‘Full Self-Driving’ Feature as a Monthly Subscription
But with Tesla’s FSD package, consumers hoping for a “full self-driving“ experience will be disappointed, says Kelly Funkhouser, head of connected and automated vehicle testing at CR. We test-drove a version of FSD last year and found that it fell short of its promise, and early reports of latest beta FSD software from owners suggest that true self-driving may be years away. And even Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently tweeted that the current Summon feature—which the automaker’s website claims can send your driverless Tesla to “come find you in a parking lot” with the push of a button—is “mostly just a fun trick.”
"We don’t know when—if ever—FSD will truly allow a Tesla to drive itself,” Funkhouser says. With that in mind, she says that Tesla owners who want to try out what FSD can do might want to opt for the subscription instead of paying $10,000 to own the feature. Tesla’s website shows that a monthly FSD subscription can be canceled at any time, so it appears that unhappy consumers won’t get trapped in a long-term contract. Although an up-front purchase may cost less than a subscription in the long run, Tesla owners also should consider that the one-time purchase won’t transfer to any new Tesla they buy. It probably won’t transfer to a new owner of their vehicle, either—so it might not benefit resale value.
“FSD isn’t like buying a software license for, say, computer software, where you can transfer it to another machine,” she says. Paying for Tesla’s FSD software up front might not translate into higher resale value when it’s time to trade in or sell, either, because FSD does not transfer to subsequent owners in most cases.
Subscriptions can have drawbacks if they involve changing technology, says William Wallace, manager of safety policy at Consumer Reports. Unlike extras such as power seats and sunroofs, which are permanently part of a vehicle, the software you subscribe to is at the mercy of the manufacturer—whether it’s Tesla or another car company. “Just as automakers can use over-the-air software updates to give your car a new feature, they can also take it away,” he says. “It’s critical for all car companies to be honest about their features and to treat consumers fairly—and for officials to hold them accountable.”
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