Electric Cars

Tesla mothballs 'full self-driving capability' option

The change came alongside the introduction of a less expensive Model 3.

Tesla

Tesla sure loves shaking things up at weird times. Late in the evening on Thursday, Elon Musk decided to announce a new variant of Model 3 that costs less than any before it. At the same time, it silently removed one controversial option from its configuration site.

Tesla has removed the "Full Self-Driving Capability" option from its vehicle configuration pages. When asked about it, the CEO tweeted in a reply that the option "was causing too much confusion." No Tesla vehicle is capable of full autonomy, and it appears that won't change for the near future, so I understand the reasoning behind shelving an option that promises autonomy, and has for two years now, while the ultimate end result could still be years off.

However, it hasn't gone away entirely. As Musk notes in the same tweet, the option is still "available off menu for a week," which means it can still be ordered, it just can't be optioned on the website itself. It's unclear if or when it will return, but if I were a betting man, I'd put my chips on the option returning when the payoff is closer to being fully baked. Tesla hasn't confirmed anything to that end, though.

The timing to delist the "Full Self-Driving Capability" option is strange. Earlier this week, Musk said that a major hardware update for Autopilot's computer, which could offer as much as a 2,000-percent boost in its data processing capabilities, is about six months away from release. In addition to being installed in new Teslas built after its release, it will be available as an upgrade to Tesla owners sporting one of its latest hardware suites (versions 2.0 and 2.5). The upgrade will be free for owners who selected the -- you guessed it -- "Full Self-Driving Capability" option.

Buyers can still fork out the cash for the option after purchasing the car, and receive the computing upgrade, but it costs more than it would have during the ordering process. Even then, it doesn't do anything remotely near the promises made in the package's name. It's just a major boost in processing power for the time being. That said, the folks who already paid for the capability will be among the first to get it when it does become available, so it's not like the money was spent for naught.

Given the confusion that's followed in comment sections across the internet in the wake of removing this option, it's easy to see why Tesla just removed it from its order page altogether. If it returns, hopefully it returns with a name that's just a bit less confusing.

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