For years, Elon Musk has been touting the promise of a self-driving car. Well, it looks like that promise is a little further off than Musk previously thought, if it materializes at all.
On Thursday, Elon Musk unveiled a new “lower cost, mid-range” Tesla Model 3 car coming in at around $45,000. At the same time, one eagle-eyed Twitter user noticed another update over at Tesla: the optional add-on “Full Self-Driving” feature was gone.
Also available off menu for a week. Was causing too much confusion.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 18, 2018
According to Musk’s reply tweet, the option is still available for Tesla customers who’d like it, but the company won’t be advertising it as it “was causing too much confusion.”
The “Full Self-Driving” option had been available as an add-on since 2016. Tesla customers were basically paying for a feature they could not currently use. A disclosure on Tesla’s website informed buyers that what they were paying for was the hardware necessary for the “Full Self-Driving” technology to work in the future.
One sign of how much Tesla takes its customers for granted: that last sentence about “the Tesla Network, details of which will be released next year” has been on Tesla’s website since 2016.
— Timothy B. Lee (@binarybits) October 12, 2018
On top of your base Tesla purchase, this add-on cost $3,000 for the future “Full Self-Driving” option in an addition to the $5,000 upgrade for the “Enhanced Autopilot,” which the company says is necessary for the self-driving feature. That’s thousands of dollars in additional costs for nothing but Elon Musk’s promise. And if you decide to upgrade any of this later, by the way, it would cost you an extra $1,000.
Back in 2016, Elon Musk said he expected a fully autonomous Tesla car by . A report that claimed that, at the time, over 35,000 Tesla owners opted to pay the additional fees for the “Full Self-Driving” option.
Tesla had received criticism and pushback over this option for some time. In 2016, the calling the feature “Autopilot” was false advertising and misleading customers. The German Transport Minister urged Tesla to cease using that term in its advertising. Backing that up, just last week, a showing that 71 percent of drivers are under the false belief that they can go out and buy a fully autonomous car right now, today.
As of now, would-be Tesla buyers who are interested in paying thousands of dollars extra for a “Full Self-Driving” feature they can’t presently use will have to specifically request it. If you do, they’ll still oblige and let you pay extra for the currently useless add-on. Now, that’s an Elon Musk promise.