Elon Musk has just confirmed that the price of Full Self Driving is going up by around $1,000 worldwide on July 1st. With about a month and a half left before this date, Tesla owners will need to make a decision, fast.
The FSD Package is currently A$8,500 in Australia and offers a range of extra features through the software unlock. Many Tesla owners opted against FSD at purchase as it added to the Luxury car tax.
While some, like myself, have gone on to purchase after deliver, many have held off because the features it adds to the car, are still in development. This timeline of a price increase will put pressure on owners to make a decision now, before the price rises to as much as $9,500.
This ultimately introduces the question – is FSD worth it? That’s a very individual decision, based on a number of factors. The key decision point is this, do you want to spend money now as an investment in the future.
The Model 3 has all the necessary cameras, radar and sensors necessary for fully autonomous driving, something we’ve never seen in the world before. This incredibly difficult problem is now a software problem.
Getting an exact timeline on something you’ve built a million times before is easy, you have a lot of historical evidence to base your estimate on, however doing something for the first time, is a lot harder to estimate.
This means you’re spending money now, with the expectation that Tesla will continue to update and improve the technology until the car can drive without requiring you. Even once that’s achieved a number of possibilities open up. While A$8,500 is a significant investment, we may look back at that number in years to come and see it as very cheap for the capabilities the car gains.
If we look at the Tesla website today, FSD includes:
- Navigate on Autopilot: automatic driving from motorway on-ramp to off-ramp including interchanges and overtaking slower cars.
- Auto Lane Change: automatic lane changes while driving on the motorway.
- Autopark: both parallel and perpendicular spaces.
- Summon: your parked car will come find you anywhere in a car park. Really.
- Recognise and respond to traffic lights and stop signs.
- Automatic driving on city streets.
Musk has mentioned on a number of occasions that as the functionality of FSD improves, as will the price and from today’s announcement, that’s certainly true.
Those holding out for the subscription coming at the end of the year, should now appreciate that it won’t be cheap. You can wait and see, but that’s a risky game.
Musk goes on to say, that the value of FSD could be as much as $100,000. Given that’s what we paid for the car, that’d be a doubling of the value of the car.
Let’s imagine a future where, in a few years the car can take you to work, then pick up your kid from school at 3PM, take them home, then come get you from work at 5PM, what’s the worth?
What would it be worth to be able to go anywhere and have drinks and have the car drive you home?
Or what would it be worth to you to be texting, on social media, video conferencing on your daily commute?
Everyone’s value derived from having the car will be different, but I’m going to assume Musk’s calculations involve you entering your car into the Tesla fleet to go make money for you while you, like Uber minus the driver, while you’re not using the car (most of the day). Not everyone will be prepared to use their car in this way, so the value and payback period, would be different.
It is worth mentioning that Musk announced at Autonomy Day back in April 2019, that they were aiming at to reach feature complete by the end of 2019. This still hasn’t been achieved and we’re now mid-late May 2020.
This milestone doesn’t mean the cars will have reached full hands-off driving, but would enable most commutes to be done without intervention.
A price rise, like the July 1st rise, could indicate Musk is confident we’re approaching another big development milestone that would arrive in another OTA software update. My guess is that the US build which stops at traffic lights and stop signs is ready to have user confirmations switched off after a couple of months of training. This would mean the car could start/stop at most intersections as humans would.
There’s still a lot on the to-do-list, like give way signs, roundabouts, and even better gutter detection for driving in city streets. Ultimately the biggest challenge will be regulation. Tesla will have to embark on the massive task of going state-by-state across all its worldwide markets to seek approval for drivers to take their hands off the wheel.
Armed with a massive array of data, Tesla will be able to prove that a car driven by their technology, is safer than a human. Once that occurs, it’d be extremely difficult for a legislator to say no.