The first big nugget of news from today’s quarterly Tesla conference call is that Tesla will finally allow Tesla owners who have a car with Full Self Driving (FSD) to transfer that to a new Tesla purchase — but this is a one-time offer, so act quickly! Let me explain. …
Historically, if you buy a Tesla and buy the Full Self Driving (FSD) software suite, that FSD purchase sticks with the car, not the owner. So, if you sell the car, the new owner gets FSD with the car. However, if you then go and buy another Tesla, you have to pay for FSD anew.
This has no doubt dampened sales, especially since FSD has gone up in price a great deal in the past few years. I bought our Tesla Model 3 in August 2019, and I bought the FSD package for $6,000. It now costs $15,000 to get FSD. Buying a new car with the same software would thus cost me an extra $9,000 just to keep that FSD software.
People have been wanting advanced Autopilot and FSD packages to stick with the owner for years — like, almost a decade. For those who think this should be a permanent policy, unfortunately, it won’t. However, for some reason or another, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has decided to allow owners with FSD to trade in their Tesla and get another one with FSD at no additional cost for one time only — in the 3rd quarter (current quarter) of 2023. And, to be clear, as long as you place the order in the 3rd quarter, you’re good. (Though, I’d be cautious about making any changes to that order after the 3rd quarter.)
But why? Why is Tesla finally offering this? And why for just this one time? Well, one clue may be in Musk calling this a kind of one-time “amnesty” offer. The definition of amnesty is: “a general pardon for offenses, especially political offenses, against a government, often granted before any trial or conviction.” Is that the right word here? Well, perhaps what Musk is acknowledging is that he made a lot of claims about FSD reaching robotaxi capability much sooner than it has (it still isn’t robotaxi capable), and he made those claims for several years. When I bought my Model 3 in mid-2019, it was supposed to be “feature complete” in terms of robotaxi capability by the end of the year. It wasn’t even close to feature complete by the end of the year. Many people who bought FSD expecting eventual robotaxi capability have already sold or crashed their cars. Others, like me, may have considered or be considering trading in their Tesla for a new one, but don’t want to take a $9,000 haircut to get the still very imperfect FSD suite again. So, perhaps this one-time offer is a kind of apology and concession for years of delay on FSD targets.
Another possibility, probably one that complements my previous theory, is that Tesla is looking for ways to stimulate more sales. The company has been making price cuts a lot this year, and as we speculated previously and confirmed just a few minutes ago, Tesla inventory has gone up this year while the order backlog has shrunk. Is Tesla facing a demand challenge? Who knows, but allowing many early Tesla buyers to trade in their Teslas and get new ones without having to pay another $9,000 ($15,000 minus the $6,000 or so we have already paid) for the same FSD software should spur a lot of trade-ins and new car purchases.
This was certainly the surprise of the quarterly Tesla conference call, and those are my thoughts on it. Did I miss anything or misunderstanding anything on this topic?
(Side note: Get ready for all of the Tesla owners who traded in their cars with FSD in the past few months to rise in uproar and not getting included in this new deal.)
Have a tip for CleanTechnica? Want to advertise? Want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.
EV Obsession Daily!
Tesla Sales in 2023, 2024, and 2030
CleanTechnica uses affiliate links. See our policy here.