May 26, 2024


Tesla had the idea back in March to begin giving new Tesla buyers a free month of access to its so-called “Full Self-Driving” software that doesn’t actually make the car capable of full self-driving. So now that it’s been a few months, how has that program gone? As it turns out, not so great. Futurism reports that 98% of customers who used the free trial decided not to pay to keep using it.

To add insult to injury, Tesla recently cut the price of its Full Self-Driving software from $12,000 to $8,000. That’s still a whole lot of money, especially as a percentage of the Model Y’s roughly $45,000 base price, but you’d think that cutting the price by 33% and offering new customers a free demo for a month would have resulted in a success rate higher than a measly 2%.

What’s currently not clear, however, is why so few people are willing to shell out for Full Self-Driving. The study only looked at about 3,500 Tesla owners, so it’s possible the sample size was too small to be accurate, but 3,500 individuals should be large enough to be statistically significant. So perhaps they just didn’t find it particularly useful or safe enough to trust.

It’s also possible that more customers have become aware that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as well as other agencies, are investigating Tesla and currently have concerns about how effective a recent Autopilot recall actually was. Story after story of wrecks involving drivers who were using Autopilot or Full Self-Driving at the time of the crash can’t be helping either.

Read more: When it comes to Tesla, Americans are living in different universes

Still, the general public tends not to follow Tesla news all that closely, so we suspect price is a much bigger factor. Housing is wildly expensive these days, interest rates are skyrocketing, and the threat of more layoffs seems to loom over every company regardless of how profitable they are. So even if you can afford to drop $50,000 or more on a new Tesla, there’s a good chance you’ll shy away from paying the extra $8,000 for a more advanced version of Autopilot.

For Tesla, though, why customers weren’t willing to pay for Full Self-Driving after the trial period ended is a lot less important than the fact that so few actually did. Especially as Musk attempts to reposition Tesla as an AI and robotics company, even going as far as to tell investors to sell their shares if they aren’t fully on board with his robotaxi vision. If 98% of customers don’t want what’s supposed to be your most impressive product, that’s probably a bad sign.

A version of this article originally appeared on Jalopnik.



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