Tesla’s ‘fully self-driving’ isn’t worth $15,000, say many who bought it

The release of the new software version was delayed Monday until “probably the end of the week. Needs a little more tweaking,” Musk said. saidbut the price hike took effect.

Some Tesla owners who paid significantly less for an earlier, unfinished version of the same “fully self-contained” software that now sells for $15,000 warn that the new price doesn’t make sense for most buyers.

CNN Business spoke to 13 people who have cars with the “fully self-driving” beta and the overwhelming majority, 11 people, said they felt it wasn’t worth $15,000. These drivers say the software has improved, but not enough to justify the price. They sometimes describe having to be more careful when using “fully self-driving” than when driving alone, as the car can be unpredictable. Over 100,000 Tesla vehicles have been sold with this feature.

Tesla buyers can purchase “full self-driving” when they buy their car, or they can choose to pay a monthly subscription to use the feature. Many Tesla drivers who spoke to CNN Business suggested that if they were in the market today for a Tesla, they would opt for the monthly subscription fee for “complete self-driving,” which costs still $199 a month or buy for the more affordable Enhanced Autopilot, which combines features like automated parking and automated lane changes on highways, but isn’t so clearly an unfinished, flawed product.

Three people told CNN Business that they feel ‘fully self-driving’ is worth the high price tag for them because they personally enjoy testing new technologies and are excited by the promise of what ‘fully self-driving’ could be. eventually become.

“I really admire the optimism of all of these people, said Brian Moody, editor of online automotive market AutoTrader.com, of those who believe “fully autonomous driving” may soon take on all the responsibilities. of driving despite years of delay. “I wish I could be like that.”

Moody’s told CNN Business that “full self-driving” is particularly expensive compared to other available driver assistance packages like GM’s SuperCruise and Nissan ProPilot Assist. SuperCruise typically costs around $2,500 – plus a $25 monthly connectivity fee after the third year – and ProPilot Assist can cost less than $2,000 in some cases.

The promised functionality of these driver assistance packages is more modest. As they direct and follow traffic on select highways, Musk says “fully self-driving” will one day allow Tesla owners to operate their vehicles as robotaxis who don’t need a human behind the wheel.

It’s not uncommon for options to hit the $10,000 threshold, but those high-priced options typically include a range of accessories like adaptive suspension, engine upgrades and adaptive headlights, he said. he declares.

Moody’s said it expects consumers to pay the monthly subscription for “complete self-driving” rather than paying $15,000 for the promise of the feature’s future potential.

Dive deep

Four years ago, Wisam Al-Rawi bought a Tesla equipped with driver assistance software that the company calls “complete self-driving”. He says he was happy to pay a premium of $2,500 for “fully self-driving” in anticipation that his Tesla would one day drive itself. But last month, Al-Rawi, frustrated with the software’s flaws, had had enough. He asked Tesla to remove it.

Now, the California resident is surprised that Tesla is raising the price of “fully self-driving” to $15,000, even though it’s below the automaker’s projections.

“I would never even pay $10,000 for this,” Al-Rawi told CNN Business. “They over-promised like crazy.”

But Tesla reckons the feature, which the company says remains in testing (or “beta”) despite being widely released, will be worth far more than even the price it’s currently selling for.

“The price of FSD will continue to rise as the software moves closer to full self-driving capability with regulatory approval,” Musk said. wrote on Twitter in 2020.”[At] At that time, the value of the FSD probably exceeds $100,000. »

But “fully autonomous driving” was nowhere near what Al-Rawi heard from Musk, who claimed every year from 2015 to 2022 that self-driving Teslas were likely a year or two away.

Al-Rawi said it was stressful to use the “fully autonomous driving” beta as the software sometimes tried to hit curbs or drive on the wrong side of the road. His car would sometimes brake unexpectedly, triggering road rage in others.

“He promised your car could be a taxi. It will generate revenue,” Al-Rawi said. “Unfortunately, none of that happened.”

Al-Rawi still believes that Tesla’s driver assistance features are better than those of any other automaker. He calls the automaker’s lane-keeping feature “fantastic.” The “full self-driving” feature, which navigates local roads with steering, braking and acceleration, is where Al-Rawi had trouble.

Al-Rawi is far from alone in worrying about Teslas and unexpected braking. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which regulates motor vehicles, launched an investigation in February following hundreds of unexpected braking complaints.

But the limitations of “fully self-driving” haven’t caused many Tesla owners to regret their purchase.

“There’s nothing in FSD that’s actually useful, certainly not for that kind of money,” Logan Rossignol, a “fully self-contained” Tesla beta tester, told CNN Business. “You always pay for a promise. And what that’s worth to you is up to you.”

Rossignol believes the investment was worth it for him, as he is a software developer and loves experimenting with technology. “Fully autonomous driving” changes regularly due to over-the-air software updates. Drivers wake up some mornings with a new version of technology to test and use.

Sunny Gulati, who said he paid $8,000 for “complete self-driving,” says he gets an “inherent joy” watching his Tesla try to navigate the roads. He said he no longer envies other cars on the road. The system doesn’t have to be perfect to like it.

He justified the purchase of “fully self-driving” in part because he believed it might one day make owning a second car unnecessary. Gulati said he couldn’t have afforded $15,000 for “fully self-driving” and would opt for the monthly subscription fee if he bought today.

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Don Burke bought his Model S in 2019 because he wanted a vehicle that could one day drive itself.

The Virginia resident said he suffers from a form of muscular dystrophy. His legs are weakening. He will be in a wheelchair in a few years.

Burke spoke to CNN Business during a months-long road trip around the United States.

He drives up to 600 miles a day and says Tesla’s driver assistance technology makes him a much safer driver. He said he thought humans were bad drivers, pointing to the many deaths on the roads today, and thought machines would be better.

Burke said if he was in the market for a Tesla again, the $15,000 price tag for “fully self-driving” would be worth it.

“I love being able to be mobile,” Burke said. “I desperately want a machine that I can own that can get me where I need to be when I get into a wheelchair.”

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