Tesla Full Self-Driving subscription launches, but some owners are peeved

Tesla promised owners of specific vehicles wouldn't need a hardware update, but instead, there's a $1,500 charge involved for -- yep -- a hardware update.

Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski
2 min read
Tesla Full Self-Driving beta

Some owners will need to pay another $1,500... for something they already bought.


This weekend, Tesla rolled out a long-awaited, more accessible option for those wanting to toy around with the company's Full Self-Driving beta: a subscription model. (Quick reminder: Full Self-Driving is not actually fully self-driving; it's a Level 2 driver-assistance system.) For $199 a month, owners can access all the goods that come with the $10,000 option on a new Tesla, though it's hardly the more economical choice if you plan on owning the car for a long period of time.

While this would typically be joyous news for so many owners who simply don't have stacks of hundred dollar bills lying around, the subscription launch ruffled feathers among many Tesla owners. After reading the automaker's official announcement, it doesn't take a pair of eagle eyes to note a big caveat. Tesla owners who purchased their car between late-2016 and 2019 will, in fact, need a hardware update. Electrek rightly points out an announcement from five years ago where the company told customers "all Tesla cars being produced now have full self-driving hardware."

Essentially, those who purchased their vehicle were told one thing, only to find out that's not the case. Tesla first promised as long as owners purchased their vehicle with the hardware necessary for FSD features to come in the past, they'd only need to pony up for the software to run FSD features beyond what Tesla calls Basic Autopilot. Along the lines, Tesla also offered free upgrades for cars with Hardware 2.0 and 2.5 to an in-house Tesla computer the company calls 3.0, or the FSD Chip. Today, those owners will now see a message prompting them to schedule another hardware update to the tune of $1,500 to run the FSD features. Once the hardware update's done, owners are then eligible to subscribe to FSD. To reiterate, the company already told customers their cars were ready to roll with no additional cash required for hardware updates.

Tesla does not operate a public relations department to field requests for comment and CEO Elon Musk's Twitter feed is void of any comment on the situation. Hopefully, Tesla does right by customers who already paid for this feature.

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