Tesla will increase the price of the “full self-driving” version of its Autopilot driver assistance system by around $1,000 starting August 16th, according to CEO Elon Musk. The higher-tier package currently costs $6,000 if customers choose the option when buying a car, but Tesla charges $8,000 if they decide to upgrade after taking delivery. It’s not clear if Musk was referring to increasing both those price tags, and Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Tesla brought back the “full self-driving” package earlier this year after shelving the option in late 2018 amid criticism that the company was overselling the autonomy of its vehicles. While Tesla sells the package under the name “full self-driving,” it should be noted that Tesla’s cars still cannot operate autonomously. Musk has said the company will make that possible by the end of 2019, and earlier this year he showed off the custom chip that Tesla will use to tackle this tall task, though he is well-known for missing deadlines.
Autopilot is quite capable as far as modern driver-assistance systems go. If customers opt for the more expensive “full self-driving” package, Autopilot can keep a Tesla in the center of a lane, automatically change lanes, and even tackle on and off-ramps on the highway — though the driver has to monitor the system and keep their hands on the wheel at all times. If customers go with the version of Autopilot that’s included with all Tesla cars now, it can only do more basic things, like match the speed of a car in front, or perform automatic emergency braking — features that many other automakers also now offer in their own cars.
Musk said earlier this year that the price of the “full self-driving” Autopilot package would “increase substantially over time,” and has even warned that the overall cost of Tesla’s cars will go up “significantly” if and when they gain the ability to drive themselves without human supervision or intervention. Musk’s logic behind increasing the overall cost of Tesla’s cars is that, if and when they can drive themselves, they will be used as part of a shared fleet of “robotaxis,” thereby increasing their overall value. He’s publicly mentioned these price increases as a way to encourage customers to buy Teslas now ahead of the rollout of this shared fleet concept.
The Tesla CEO often uses his Twitter account to encourage sales ahead of other price increases, like changes to the federal EV tax credit, or impending shifts in the company’s product lineup. Often, though, Tesla makes changes with little heads up — like this week, when the company decided to drop the Standard Range versions of the Model S and Model X, while also cutting the price of the cheapest Model 3.