The move comes after significant criticism from the Tesla Forums and us here at Electrek, who pointed out that Tesla was charging owners for upgrading to hardware they had already been told about.
Our previous story exposes the whole situation, and we won’t repeat it completely here. Click if you want more details.
Here’s a quick recap: All Tesla vehicles sold from late 2016 to mid-2019 allegedly included the right hardware for full self-driving capabilities. It was not yet functional, but would be used as Tesla developed its autopilot software. Eventually, Tesla found they needed upgraded hardware and started shipping cars with a better autopilot computer. When owners of cars with the old hardware purchased the Full Self-Driving package, they were upgraded to the new computer for free. Then Tesla introduced a new subscription model, but started charging people for the old hardware $ 1,500 for the hardware upgrade, even though those owners bought the car thinking they had the hardware. suitable for fully autonomous driving.
After seeing the reaction of the forums, Electrek, and other publications, Tesla seems to have taken this review at least partially to heart, and like-minded customers who upgrade in the Tesla app now see an upgrade cost of $ 1,000. , instead of the previous $ 1,500:
We’ve also seen reports that anyone who has scheduled an installation in the past few days will receive a refund for the $ 500 difference.
According to a teardown by EE Times, Tesla’s HW 3.0 system costs around $ 190 a unit – although, to be fair, that sounds a bit low to us. In addition, this is simply the cost of the material and does not include any service or logistics costs for the retrofit installation.
Although this is a step forward, it is still not zero. Tesla sold these vehicles with the promise that they had the hardware for autonomous driving capabilities, so it doesn’t seem ethical to charge extra money to owners who bought the vehicle with that promise just in order to restore capacity. that we had already told them. to have.
Yes, things have changed since then, but one person who bought a Tesla in 2017 had no idea that a hardware upgrade would be needed for fully autonomous driving, as that announcement wasn’t made until 2019.
Tesla has done right to these owners before, offering free upgrades for those who have purchased fully autonomous driving, but they still don’t do well for car owners from late 2016 to mid-2019 who are subscribe to the new subscription feature.
We don’t know what specific Tesla concerns led to this decision. It is possible that they thought that if enough people subscribe for a month and then cancel their subscription, the cost of installing the hardware in these vehicles would be a loss for Tesla, and these cars would not gain any functionality from the new hardware of anyway. From their current perspective, that makes sense, but remember: they were still selling these cars as if they had self-driving gear. Any upgrades needed to reach this point should be Tesla’s responsibility, not the owner’s.
Fred had a compromise proposal that Tesla could implement, which alleviates this possible concern:
I had thought of something similar. Tesla could have introduced the subscription service with a minimum contract, or as Fred puts it, perhaps a free multi-month credit in exchange for an initial lump sum to cover the hardware upgrade. It would have been easier to sell, as customers wouldn’t feel like they were wasting money, even though they should have already had the hardware for FSD.
They probably didn’t because they wanted to keep the subscription process simple, but if they had done it from the get-go, they probably could have avoided the anger of customers who feel helpless about having to pay. for the material they thought already had.
In the end, the fairest solution is to just take it on the chin and install this material for free to people who have purchased a car that has been marketed as having full self-driving equipment. Maybe Tesla takes a little financial hit, but if they’re proud enough of the system and thinks its capabilities are worth 199 / month, they’ll eventually recoup those upgrade costs and more.
Plus, that was a promise, and for a business that has grown in large part on the loyalty and word of mouth of its early customers, it’s not just the right thing to do, but the thing. smart to do. We’re glad they made this change, as it means they recognize they got it wrong and are receptive to criticism, but we would really like to see the price of the hardware upgrade drop to what it is. should have been from the start: zero. And we suspect that many customers in this situation would find that this is the only acceptable price for something they have already purchased.
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