Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) capability does not live up to its name, but the $10,000 option adds some neat tricks to Tesla’s current crop of electric cars. If the features associated with FSD happen to interest you, but the option’s hefty price tag does not, then maybe Tesla’s new subscription plan is the perfect way to dip your toes in the proverbial FSD waters. The subscription model is available for owners of Tesla models running the company’s Full Self-Driving computer 3.0 or newer hardware and the brand’s Autopilot function. Tesla started placing FSD computer 3.0 in its vehicles in 2019, though the brand offers a complimentary upgrade to the newer setup for older models equipped with FSD and the earlier FSD computer 2.0 or 2.5 hardware.
Priced from $199 per month for applicable Teslas running the company’s Basic Autopilot system (which notably includes adaptive cruise control and lane centering) and $99 per month for vehicles equipped with Enhanced Autopilot (which adds a number of now FSD-specific features), the FSD subscription allows users to add or drop the system’s functions to and from their vehicle on an as-needed basis. Be aware that Tesla does not prorate canceled subscriptions, so FSD will continue to work until the end of the month an owner last paid for.
Of course, the value of Tesla’s subscription proposition is dependent on the level selected, with the cheaper Enhanced Autopilot FSD subscription plan equaling the price of paying for FSD all at once after approximately 101 months of use (or a little more than eight years). The Basic Autopilot FSD plan, meanwhile, hits the $10,000 mark after around 50 months of use (or a little more than four years). It seems the subscription plan is the way to go for those only occasionally in need of FSD’s features. Heck, even those who are regular users of FSD will benefit from the subscription plan if they plan to ditch their Tesla after only a few years of ownership. FSD fans with more long-term ownership ambitions, however, may want to consider paying for the option at the outset.
Is Tesla’s adoption of a subscription model for FSD a good thing? In many cases, it seems the math seems to say “yes”. That said, we wager it’s only a matter of time until Tesla and other automakers capitalize on this business model and begin charging nominal monthly fees for relatively inexpensive, regular-use items, ultimately resulting in consumers spending more on the subscription than they would have on the item itself.
Just as a refresher, FSD package includes automatic perpendicular and parallel parking, the brand’s app-operated and driverless “Summon” function, “Full Self-Driving” computer hardware, automatic lane-change assist, and Tesla’s “Navigate on Autopilot” feature, which allows so-equipped vehicles to follow the highway portion of a navigation route—from entering the on-ramp to exiting the highway, all the while also automatically changing lanes to pass the likes of slower traffic—with minimal driver assistance. Tesla plans to continually improve FSD via over-the-air updates, too, with the automaker planning to soon add automatic steering assist in city environments to the system. No doubt, FSD makes the act of driving a lot easier, especially on the highway; however, it currently does not (and likely will not ever) allow any Tesla to fully drive itself—regardless of how you pay for it.