Austria-based Raffael Helmhart was one of the Tesla Model 3’s early adopters in his area. Placing his reservation for the all-electric sedan back in April 2016, Helmhart waited over three years before he could get behind the wheel of his Model 3. Such a wait was long, but it was somewhat expected considering Tesla’s challenges in producing and delivering the vehicle.
Helmhart ultimately took delivery of his 2019 Model 3 Long Range Dual Motor AWD in May 2019. His vehicle came loaded with the Full Self-Driving suite, which includes some features and the promise of more advanced automated capabilities over time. Perhaps due to his early reservation, Helmhart’s Model 3 came with Hardware 2.5, the iteration of the company’s Autopilot computer that preceded Hardware 3, a custom computer unveiled on Autonomy Day.
Similar to fellow Model 3 buyers in the United States who also purchased the Full Self-Driving suite, Helmhart and his fellow Tesla owners in Europe were promised a HW3 retrofit. Reports of initial Hardware 3 retrofits for Model S and Model X owners in the US were reported by members of the electric vehicle community in the third quarter of 2019. Model 3 owners with HW2.5 were provided the promised HW3 retrofit soon after.
For Model 3 owners in Europe, the story unfortunately turned out quite different. Initially, Tesla’s official website noted that HW2.5 to HW3 retrofits in Europe would be initiated in early March 2020. This date was eventually updated to the end of March 2020, before being moved once more to July 2020. Much to the chagrin of Tesla owners with HW2.5 Model 3s, the date on Tesla’s site for the promised retrofit was later updated to October 2020, and later, to the end of October 2020.
Recently, Tesla’s site was updated once more, and it noted that HW3 retrofits for Model 3 owners with HW2.5 in Europe were expected in Q2 2021.
Needless to say, Tesla Model 3 early adopters in the region who purchased the FSD suite are getting their patience tested. This became particularly notable in Autumn 2020, when Tesla owners in Norway, the Netherlands, and Switzerland received their HW3 upgrade. Model 3 owners in the rest of Europe only received an updated expected retrofit date.
— Tesla_Adri (@tesla_adri) March 13, 2021
As for Helmhart, he eventually opted to sell his 2019 Model 3 to Denmark a few months ago. He opted to switch to a 2021 Model 3, which featured refresh elements like new headlights, a new center console, a heat pump, and of course, HW3. In a statement to Teslarati, the Tesla owner stated that while it is often claimed that the HW3 upgrade doesn’t really do anything in Europe considering the region’s regulations, his experience with his 2021 Model 3 suggests that this may not really be the case.
For one, there are already a number of key features requiring HW3 that are pertinent for Europe-based Tesla owners. One of these is traffic sign recognition, which works even with basic Autopilot. FSD-specific features such as Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control, a key Full Self-Driving feature and a pivotal part of Tesla’s inner-city driving system, is also allowed in Europe despite the region’s strict regulations. The FSD Preview visualizations are now accessible as well. Ultimately, it appears that the HW3 upgrade does provide a number of improvements to the Tesla ownership experience, and it is one that Tesla Model 3 owners with HW2.5 in Europe continue to wait for until today.
Hopefully, Tesla could straighten out its HW3 retrofit rollout strategy for the majority of Europe. Elon Musk, after all, has always maintained that Tesla’s success is in no small part due to the faith of early adopters who chose to take a chance on a company with little experience building cars. As Tesla grows into one of the world’s most formidable carmakers and the market’s dominating EV force, there is very little reason why perennial delays on after-sales programs such as the HW3 retrofit are still happening.
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