Part of Tesla’s business model is charging consumers for software upgrades in their cars. To be clear, the hardware to make these features possible already in the vehicle, so the car’s owner isn’t paying for any physical upgrades. That’s not to say customers are paying for the latest edition of off-brand Mario Kart either—Tesla’s vaunted Autopilot driver-assist system is a pretty big in-app purchase, so to speak. But a price break for the rest of June means it’s suddenly a little cheaper.
Basic Autopilot dropping from $3,000 to $2,000 isn’t insignificant. To be clear, this isn’t for the “full self-driving” feature that isn’t actually full self-driving but people still pay $7,000 (soon $8,000) for. But this $2,000 upgrade will give your Tesla the most basic Autopilot features that some early cars, including Model 3s, did not come equipped with.
Autopilot is a combination of lane keep assist and radar cruise control. It’s a little more complicated than that, using multiple exterior cameras, radar, ultrasonic sensors and GPS to guide the car along a highway, and certainly among the best if ranked against similar hands-on driver-assistance suites from the likes of Toyota, Ford, or the German luxury marques.
But to access more ambitious features, such as being able to navigate on autopilot, automatic lane changes, and auto park (are you tired of ‘auto’ yet?), you must check the “Full Self-Driving” box in Tesla’s app and evaporate $7,000 from your bank account. That cost is set to increase to $8,000 next month, though Tesla CEO Elon Musk claims the software will be available on a subscription model by the end of the year. Remember, Teslas are hardwired for this stuff from the factory. Unlocking it is what costs money.
Are you following? Let me wrap this up in a nutshell.
If you want to get Full Self-Driving Autopilot for your Tesla—and you don’t have the basic system yet—you can save $2000 if you buy both (as you must) before July 1st. If you don’t have Autopilot and you just want that, you can save $1,000 on it. Just remember to pay attention once the computer starts pulling the strings, because no matter what the option says, there are no self-driving cars on sale today.
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