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Tesla Full Self-Driving monthly subscriptions poised for 2021 launch

An autonomous Tesla Model 3 in action. (Credit: Tesla)

Tesla is planning on launching monthly subscriptions to Full Self-Driving by 2021, announced Elon Musk in a recent tweet. He broke the news after setting an updated timeframe for FSD beta’s ~$2,000 price increase on Thursday, October 29.

A subscription service would make FSD more affordable to Tesla owners because drivers could opt to use the service only when necessary. From a consumer’s perspective, FSD might be worth buying if it’s bound to be used often. However, a subscription service might be more practical for drivers who won’t use Tesla’s Full Self-Driving suite daily and only need it during long drives or trips.

An FSD subscription service would not only benefit customers though. It would also benefit Tesla, specifically its AI team. The more data and driving experience FSD’s AI gathers, after all, the better it will perform.

With this in mind, making FSD as accessible as possible to Tesla owners should be a key priority for the company. Elon Musk predicted that FSD could be worth more than $100,000 one day. To reach that price point, Tesla’s Full Self-Driving capabilities would need to improve dramatically. More real-world driving data means that more improvements could be made.

Tesla’s subscription service has been in the works for some time. EV enthusiast @greentheonly spotted the first signs of a possible FSD subscription service drop while sifting through Tesla’s code in April earlier this year.

“[T]here’s code for pay as you go subscription plan, has been for quite a while. Waiting for that eventual time when it will make sense I am sure,” green tweeted then.

Two days after the owner-hacker talked about the code for Tesla’s FSD subscription plan, Elon Musk and Zachary Kirkhorn confirmed the news during TSLA’s Q1 2020 earnings call. “I think we will offer Full Self-Driving as a subscription service, but it will be probably toward the end of this year,” answered Elon Musk noted.

Musk added that buying Tesla’s Full Self-Driving suite at full price might be a better investment. “I should say, it will still make sense as — to buy FSD as an option as, in our view, buying FSD is an investment in the future. And we are confident that it is an investment that will pay off to the consumer — to the benefit of the consumer. In my opinion, buying FSD option is something people will not regret doing,” he said.”

However, Musk was not wrong about perceiving FSD as an investment. In July 2020, a few months after the Q1 earnings call, Tesla raised the price of FSD from $7000 to $8000. After the FSD price increase, Musk reminded the public that Tesla’s Full Self-Driving software would increase in value every few months. “Those who buy it earlier will see the benefit,” he noted.

Musk held true to his word. Tesla recently released its limited Full Self-Driving beta, which is expected to feature improvements from the highly-anticipated Autopilot rewrite. Based on recent real-world tests of Tesla’s improved FSD suite, the EV automaker has made leaps and bounds in the development of its self-driving driving software.

Corresponding to Tesla’s FSD beta was another price increase, merely months after the $1,000 raise in July 2020. Yesterday, Elon Musk announced Tesla would increase the price of FSD by ~$2,000, bringing it up to $10,000. Given the dramatic changes seen in Tesla’s limited FSD beta, the price increase makes sense to some.

However, it does also makes FSD less affordable to others. A subscription service for FSD would make Tesla’s autonomous software more accessible to those who aren’t willing to or can’t shell out $10,000 or more upfront.

Tesla Full Self-Driving monthly subscriptions poised for 2021 launch
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