Tesla announced in an email to owners on Wednesday that it will boost the price of its "Full Self-Driving Capability" suite of driver-assistance features starting Aug. 16. The increase applies over-the-air upgrades for existing Tesla owners who already have some of those features in the Enhanced Autopilot package.
The move is the first step in what CEO Elon Musk has promised will be a steady escalation of prices for Tesla's Full Self-Driving Capability features on the way to turning the company's products into a fleet of self-driving robo-taxis, Starting Aug. 16, buyers who already have Enhanced Autopilot will have to pay $4,000 rather than the current $3,000 upgrade charge.
Despite the name, the Full Self-Driving Capability package is not yet capable of driving the car itself. Before the cars can do that, the company has to perfect its Navigate on Autopilot system, which allows Teslas to control speed, follow lanes, and change lanes to drive from a highway on-ramp to off-ramp with minimal driver input as long as the driver is touching the steering wheel. However, various reports have indicated that drivers still have to intervene frequently. The company also has to convince regulators to approve letting its cars on the road without drivers.
Enhanced Autopilot, an optional package that included adaptive cruise control and active lane control, is no longer offered. Its features have migrated to Full Self-Driving, which is available at extra cost on new Tesla vehicles.
Consumer Reports Tesla Model 3 Navigate on Autopilot ready for right-lane pass [CREDIT: CR]
At that time, Tesla made Autopilot standard, but adaptive cruise control and automatic lane changing are reserved for the Full Self-Driving Capability option, which costs $6,000 when ordered on a new car. Those features, along with automatic parking, summon, automatic lane changes, and a link to the navigation system to enable Navigate on Autopilot make up the current set of features of the Full Self-Driving Capability option.
Musk tweeted last month that the company would begin ratcheting up prices on the FSD option to reflect the cars' higher future earning potential.
To be clear, consumers will still be able to buy a Tesla, but the clearing price will rise significantly, as a fully autonomous car that can function as a robo-taxi is several times more valuable than a non-autonomous car— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 8, 2019
This price increase represents the first bump up that apparent ladder, and it means buyers will have to pay more for the company's top level of driver-assistance software as the auto industry aims for true full self driving, which may be years away. Effectively, Tesla is adding cost in anticipation of buyers using their cars as taxis to make money, which many drivers won't do.
Last week, Musk announced that Tesla will begin rolling out a new version of its operating-system software, Version 10, which he said will improve the system's ability to recognize stop signs and lights on surface streets—part of the toolkit that will be necessary for future self-driving features.
This piece has been updated to correct several errors referring to features included in Autopilot, Enhanced Autopilot, and Full Self-Driving.