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Yet more Tesla controversy in the last 24 hours. Recently, the brand faced backlash over their pricing for “Full Self-Driving” software. This isn’t the first time the Palo Alto EV brand has faced some controversy regarding its autonomous software. Both their “Autopilot” and “Full Self-Driving” software have been subject to their fair share of scrutiny of late. Accusations vary in severity, from misleading advertising to injuries and even deaths.

Tesla faced backlash over the pricing of FSD software

A red sign featuring white font that reads "Tesla" with the brand's logo across the top
The famous logo, in the flesh | Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

Recently, Telsa rolled out its FSD 9 beta. This is the software that will allow your “T”-banded EV to navigate without much input from you. The beta, like many aspects of the brand’s business, faced some backlash on release. Twitter was full of videos of Telsa Full Self-Driving both functioning flawlessly and failing to function. Initially, the new software was announced to come at a hefty price, $1500 to be exact.

All this is after Tesla allowed new owners to pay $3000 for the software on ordering the vehicle. So, in fairness, Tesla Full Self-Driving certainly deserves some of the criticism it’s gotten. Now, after the dust settled, Tesla reduced the price from $1500 to $1000. However, it has to be said that owners will also have to pay a monthly subscription, to the tune of $199 a month, for use of the software, according to Endgadget.

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The in-dash display of a Tesla shows Autopilot adaptive cruise software in use
The brand’s Autopilot software in use | Chris Walker via Getty Images

All that money totals up to around $10,000. That’s a lot of money for software that is still very much in the development phase. Moreover, CEO Elon Musk has been saying that Tesla Full Self-Driving has been coming for a very, very long time. Now, it’s important to acknowledge a few things in the brand’s defense. Software like this with real-world applications is extremely complicated. Musk has even said as much.

The brand’s software has to account for thousands, if not millions, of potential scenarios. Surely, all that development comes at a cost. And to be fair, it’s Tesla’s right to recoup some of those expenses. Especially given the frankly revolutionary change the brand wants to make to transportation. However, as we’ve pointed out before, there’s a lot of gaps in the software. FSD is being treated as something that it isn’t by Musk, especially on Twitter, and therein lies the only issue within all this controversy.

Full Self-Driving may not acutally be Full Self-Driving

A man sits with his hands off the wheel as a Model S drives itself
Driverless driving in Model S | Artur Widak via Getty Images

In its most strict definition, Tesla Full Self-Driving is not actually software that makes a vehicle fully autonomous. There’s widely considered to be six levels to FSD. As the software sits right now, it is technically Level 3 “Conditional Automation” which is software that requires some level of human interaction or override. Regrettably, Musk treats the brand’s software as fully autonomous and clearly expects customers to pay for that full Level 6 Self-Driving experience, even if the software is still a few levels short of a robo-car.


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