Car Industry

Tesla owners could see a $20 check from Autopilot settlement

If that number sounds underwhelming compared with the $5,000 opt-in price for Enhanced Autopilot, that's because it is.

Tim Stevens/Roadshow

Did you buy or lease a Tesla between October 2016 and September 2017 and shell out the additional $5,000 for Enhanced Autopilot? If yes, then, good news, you might be getting between $20 and $280 from Tesla.

We'll pause while you digest that information through the thin veil of our sarcasm.

Some owners and lessees who ticked the $5,000 option box for Enhanced Autopilot could see between $20 and $280 from Tesla.

Tim Stevens/Roadshow

According to a report by Electrek, Tesla has reached a settlement with a group of disgruntled owners in the amount of $5 million. The settlement is meant to (very) partially reimburse "US residents who purchased Enhanced Autopilot in connection with their purchase or lease of a Tesla Hardware 2 Model S or Model X vehicle delivered to them on or before Sept. 30, 2017." Unfortunately, this fund will also be used to pay the lawyers, hence the piddly payout. A Tesla spokesperson said in a statement:

Since rolling out our second generation of Autopilot hardware in October 2016, we have continued to provide software updates that have led to a major improvement in Autopilot functionality. This has included an extensive overhaul of the underlying architecture of our Autopilot software that enabled a step-change improvement in its machine learning capabilities. Our neural net, which expands as our customer fleet grows, is able to collect and analyze more high-quality data than ever before, which will enable us to roll out a series of new Autopilot features in 2018 and beyond. The customer response to our recent Autopilot updates has been overwhelmingly positive, so we know we're on the right track.

For some background on why this lawsuit came about in the first place, we must go back in time to late 2016 when Tesla began offering its Enhanced Autopilot to customers. This package was based on a new hardware configuration and was meant to increase Autopilot functionality. Tesla additionally offered a $3,000 option beyond the $5,000 Enhanced Autopilot package that ensured customer vehicles would be upgraded to "Fully Self-Driving" capability when the technology became available.

The payment comes as reimbursement for the delayed rollout of a functional Enhanced Autopilot system.

Tesla

Not only was Enhanced Autopilot not a thing, but it also took quite some time for the second version of Autopilot to reach the same level of functionality that the system enjoyed in its initial configuration. Naturally, this money and waiting got owners more than a little salty, and eventually, Tesla ended up with a lawsuit on its hands.

"That said, as time passed since we first unveiled Hardware 2, it eventually became clear that it was taking us longer to roll out these features than we would have liked or initially expected," continued the Tesla spokesperson. "We want to do right by those customers, so as part of a proposed settlement agreement for a class action lawsuit filed last year, we've agreed to compensate customers who purchased Autopilot on Hardware 2 vehicles who had to wait longer than we expected for these features. If the settlement is approved by the court, customers will receive different amounts depending on when they purchased and took delivery of their cars. Although the settlement is specific to customers in the US, if it is approved by the court, we've decided to compensate all customers globally in the same way. There's no legal obligation to do so, but it's the right thing to do."

2018 has proved to be a rough year for Autopilot too, given the high-profile fatal crash that occurred in Mountain View, California, in March and increased scrutiny of its level of functionality. To be fair to Tesla, Autopilot is regularly updated and the version available today doesn't suffer from the same bugs that plagued the Model X involved in the crash.

We do maintain however, that a larg problem with Autopilot is its somewhat misleading name, given that it is, at best, capable of Level 2 autonomy and isn't truly self-driving.