Tesla Full Self-Driving to move to subscription model this year

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The brief moments of commentary during Tesla’s Q1 earnings call have buried a few noteworthy developments for Tesla followers. First, company CEO Elon Musk said that the continuing upgrades to the Full Self-Driving package make him “extremely confident that it will be possible to do a drive from your home to your office most of the time with no interventions by the end of the year.” He didn’t mention any caveats with that, but even if there are asterisks, the achievement would represent progress toward the sleep-while-the-car-drives future millions are waiting for.

The other big news with FSD is that it’s expected to be available as a subscription service by the end of the year. At the moment, the only option for acquiring FSD adds $7,000 in one go to the price of a new or used Tesla, and is good for the life of the vehicle in almost all cases. The Tesla owner and enthusiast hacker who goes by Greentheonly on Twitter said “there’s code for pay as you go subscription plan, has been for quite a while” in Tesla software, but didn’t reveal if the code explained how the plan works. In a back-and-forth on Twitter that Musk had with another Tesla owner, Musk said a that the price of FSD would “increase substantially over time,” and that although a subscription service will come, “the economics will favor initial purchase” despite the lump-sum price increase. That last comment gives us pause when some suggest a pay-as-you-go model will widen the uptake of FSD, but we’ll find out more in a few months. Apparently, in China, Tesla offers a 0% APR loan to purchase FSD.

Elsewhere in the Tesla-verse, a ten-word statement in the investor report accompanying the call declared, “We are shifting our first Tesla Semi deliveries to 2021.” And to paraphrase Forrest Gump, that’s all the company had to say about that.

Better news comes with the wide rollout of the Stopping at Traffic Lights feature. An over-the-air update for Teslas with FSD will enable the vehicles to stop at every stop sign and even traffic light, even the green ones, when Autosteer and Traffic-Aware Cruise Control are activated. Needing to halt even for green lights sounds like Teslas studying the road system to improve the automaker’s neural network.

Finally, there will be an announcement about the new Gigafactory either at the end of May, or within 90 days, held in either California or Texas depending on statewide lockdown measures. The location choices make it appear Austin, TX got the nod for the newest production facility, overcoming the $1 billion in incentives that Joplin, Missouri offered.

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Saurabh Shukla

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