When will Tesla ship their Full Self-Driving package? That’s a really difficult question to answer, but a tweet today suggests that there’ll at least be a new way to pay for it in early 2021.
Twitter user PadgeUK asked Elon about the ability to pay for the FSD package annually. His particularly use case is around leasing vehicles, but this question of which payment options will be available, hasn’t really been answered.
When Elon first confirmed FSD subscription, he indicated it’d be available by the end of 2020, but that looks like it has now slipped to early 2021. When we think of subscriptions, most of our subs are monthly expenses like our subscriptions to Adobe’s Creative Cloud, Spotify, Netflix, so naturally, talk of FSD subscription would lead us to think monthly would certainly be available. Tesla’s own Premium Connectivity subscription is available monthly, so it’d be an obvious choice.
Today we got confirmation that an annual payment will at least be an option from early next year. Now early could mean January, but actually may refer to any point in Q1, giving Tesla up to 3 months to execute.
It is unclear if committing to a year of FSD would yield a discount over buying it month to month, but that would make sense, given Tesla gets the cash (or bitcoin) in their account sooner.
The straight-up price for FSD is currently A$10,100 in Australia. If we imagine a typical lease runs for 3 years, that would put an averaged price at A$3,366.66 per year, or A$280.55 per month for 36 months.
What will probably be the biggest question for those who own a Tesla haven’t yet purchased FSD, is what is the cheapest way to buy it. This may mean that some families consider only buying it for a couple of months per year, when they take holidays and travel long distances.
In this example, I’d expect to see Tesla charge a premium to go month-to-month, to encourage customers to buy it annually, or even outright.
Back in July this year, Elon was a remote participant of the World Artificial Conference in China where he confidently said that Tesla will reach basic Level 5 autonomy by the end of 2020. That hasn’t happened and is clear now, with just 9 days remaining, that will be another self-imposed timeline missed.
I’d actually love to hear from Elon about the reasons why this estimate missed the mark. He’s spoken before about exponential timelines being hard to predict and with the rate of AI improvement, exponential is what we should expect. Covid certainly set a lot of company’s back in 2020, but this timeline was set well after Covid was a known quantity and employees were back to work.
After watching Elon set and miss FSD targets for 2 consecutive Christmas’ now, it is getting harder to believe our cars will be driving themselves anytime soon.
What we’ve seen later this year was the release of the FSD beta, where a small group of users were able to share the latest capabilities with the world. We seen the cars being able to navigate roundabouts, turn corners on city streets, even navigate roads with no lane markings. These are all incredibly advances, but in no way could that be described as a Level 5, full automation, where the driver is not required and the wheel and pedals are no longer necessary.
We all thought the technical challenges, albeit great, would be well overcome by now and we’d be into a phase of seeking approval Government approval for use around the world.
The other important aspect of this race to autonomy and a fleet of Tesla robotaxis, is the competition. Tesla’s rival, Waymo may have some severe limitations, but to a lot of the public, they just see a car that’s on the road today and able to transport humans without a driver, that looks an awful lot like they’re ahead of Tesla.
GM’s Cruise, and even Ford’s new autonomous tech in their Mach-E will let driver’s take their hands off the wheel in certain situations. You can’t do that in the Tesla, with the lack of driver monitoring, leaving you to provide input to the wheel every 20-30 seconds. This also feels a lot like Tesla are not leading in this space.
I know Tesla’s autonomy team are working hard, but it seems things are not going to plan as we miss another important milestone on the road to full self-driving.
I know Tesla isn’t keen at expanding the focused and relatively small team in the autonomy division, but something has to change, even if that change is Elon making public statements about their delivery of FSD.
Based on the progress seen to date, I expect FSD won’t be done till sometime in 2022.
While I’d hope we see the FSD beta get wide release as part of this much hyped Christmas release (likely V11 of the software), it’s unlikely given the feedback from the current participants, with many of them sighting this isn’t ready for the public yet.
Instead this Christmas update which is likely due Christmas eve, or even Christmas day, will contain a slew of updates to distract us from the fact that the features included in FSD, are not yet a reality.