Tesla has changed the prices of the complete autonomous driving package several times over the past two years. In 2018, the package cost $ 3,000 when the vehicle was purchased or $ 4,000 when purchased later. In 2019, Tesla briefly reduced the price to $ 2,000, angering customers who had paid higher prices. Next, Tesla revamped its pricing structure, making the basic autopilot functionality standard and increasing the price of the FSD package to $ 5,000. Tesla then increased the price to $ 6,000, $ 7,000, and then $ 8,000.
Musk has long warned customers to expect the price of autonomous driving technology to continue to rise. “If you’re buying a Tesla today, I think you’re buying an asset that appreciates – not an asset that depreciates,” Musk said in a 2019 podcast episode.
Musk predicts that Teslas will soon be able to operate fully autonomously, allowing them to operate as self-driving taxis and generate income for their owners when not in use. He argues that this revenue-generating potential will make vehicles worth more than $ 100,000, which would even make the current price of $ 10,000 a theft.
But it’s worth taking Musk’s statements with a grain of salt. As Musk commented last year, Musk also predicted that ‘full’ autonomous driving software would be released at the end of 2019 and be safe enough by mid-2020 for fully driverless operation. . He predicted that a fleet of thousands of Teslas would provide driverless taxi rides by the end of 2020.
Needless to say, this won’t happen. The first version of the FSD software was released in beta form last week. The first YouTube videos show that the software performs far worse than a human driver, with several serious errors during three hours of driving.
So it will be months – probably years – before FSD software can operate without human supervision. And even once Tesla reaches that milestone, it won’t necessarily make the vehicles suitable for use in a driverless taxi service.
Autonomous taxis from companies like Alphabet’s Waymo and GM’s Cruise are tailor-made for this purpose. They have redundant hardware to enable them to recover from a single failure. They have a range of sophisticated sensors. For example, Waymo cars have close-range wide-angle lidar sensors around the base of the vehicle to detect nearby children or pets that the long-range sensors might miss.
So while Tesla may develop software capable of operating without a driver in the next few years, its vehicles may not have the necessary hardware to make them practical as self-driving taxis. Customers who plan to spend $ 10,000 for the FSD package should therefore not count on reimbursement for a taxi.