Tesla Model 3 dashboard in Autopilot testing with IIHS [CREDIT: IIHS]
After removing its former Full Self-Driving Mode feature, Tesla is doubling down on selling Enhanced Autopilot.
In a new software rollout, the company has temporarily enabled Enhanced Autopilot on all the cars that have the hardware to run it in a 14-day free trial that chief executive officer Elon Musk announced in April at the company's annual shareholders meeting. The free trials started rolling out in August.
Starting on Friday, users who got the 14-day free trial were offered a "reduced price" of $5,500 on the cars' center display screens.
Owners who don't take Tesla up on the offer face a new, increased price of $7,000 to turn on the system later: Users have until a week after their trial expires to sign up for Autopilot before the price goes up.
Last Friday, Tesla's website also started showing the price change for after-purchase activation of Enhanced Autopilot to $7,000.
The previous price to activate Autopilot for buyers who didn't purchase it up front was $6,000. The regular price for customers who order it with their cars is $5,000.
2017 Tesla Model S testing at Consumer Reports
It's a ploy that smacks of late-night QVC ads on TV and Presidents' Day sales at car dealerships. Act now!
The company previously used the same tactic with its Full-Self Driving Mode option, which has never been fully developed. Now that that option has been excised and rolled into Enhanced Autopilot, Enhanced Autopilot has taken on the mantel of Tesla's automated self-driving system.
The most recent customers to get the free Autopilot trial also got Tesla's latest self-driving feature, Navigate on Autopilot, which will allow the car to merge into traffic from an on-ramp, take interchanges and exit off-ramps automatically using directions from the navigation system, as long as a destination is set. Musk originally referred to this as "on-ramp to off-ramp" self-driving capability.
Without Autopilot, all Tesla models come standard with automatic emergency braking, which will apply the brakes fully if the car encounters an obstacle, to stop if the car isn't traveling too fast or at least slow down significantly if it is.
Enhanced Autopilot adds active lane control and adaptive cruise control which will keep pace with a leading car even if that car is driving slower than the speed limit. Now it also includes Navigate on Autopilot, Autopark, and Summon, which will allow drivers to control the car remotely at low speeds in parking lots.
Early tests of Navigate on Autopilot, as well as experiences of some drivers who have had accidents relying on earlier versions of Enhanced Autopilot to drive the car, show that the system is not fully self-driving, but Musk has said that it will improve as Teslas log more miles driving with the system.
The new Autopilot system is available on all three Tesla models.