Guide to buying Tesla Full Self Driving package today


For some time Tesla has sold a "Full Self Driving" add on for their cars, from $3K to $6K. In the past it gave you nothing -- just the promise that when Tesla had full self driving you would get it for no extra. Over time, the price has varied quite a bit, and now buying it gets you auto-parking and some other minor features that used to come with the $5K Enhanced Autopilot, and a few glimpses of "coming soon" extra features like advanced parking lot summon and traffic signal detection.

Then Tesla bumped the price $1K and said they would keep doing it as time went on, with a "buy while it's still cheap" implication. But should you buy software before it's written? Tesla owners are debating the $6K package ($3K for those who paid more for Enhanced Autopilot before February.) Is it worth it? I have written an evaluation of the features you get and might get in comment #1.

Read Your guide to whether you should buy Tesla Full Self Driving today at


If you think Tesla is actually going to come out with the full self driving features they've promised before going out of business, Tesla stock is a better investment than FSD.

That said, I can't see buying a Tesla without FSD. It looks fun, and if you're going to spend so much money on a car, what's another few thousand?

I guess buying FSD will also get you in on the inevitable class action lawsuit when Tesla doesn't deliver what they promised, but the contract probably limits that, you probably won't get much even if you do win, and perhaps Tesla will be bankrupt by that time anyway.

Remember that today, FSD does not get you anything. Tesla does promise it will get you some juicy things soon, and get you real FSD some day. So the only question, if you want those things, is whether you should buy it now or whether it's better to buy it later. If you are not going to want it later, obviously don't buy the nothing-yet version today!

I'm not sure what you mean when you say it doesn't get you anything today. Your article outlines the things it gives you today. Not a lot, but it's not nothing.

Personally, I can't imagine buying a Tesla and not getting FSD, unless the plan is to get it at a cheaper price later. Given the sporadic price changes one might want to play that game, though it's risky.

That's just me personally though. I'm not a car guy. I don't drive that much. I can't imagine paying $40-50,000 for a car that's never going to be able to drive itself.

And that's why I don't own a Tesla, though I do own some Tesla stock.

For people who bought "AEP" (like me) it currently gives nothing but is only $3,000. For people who did not buy that, it is $6,000 and it gives a few things that would be hard to value at $6,000.

Okay, yeah, I meant someone buying one today.

No, it's not probably not worth $6,000 to many people for what you get today. But if you're going to buy it later anyway, and the price isn't going to come down, then it's nearly free today.

Not sure if the price will come down again. Either they're planning on releasing some good stuff soon, or they're trying to trick people into thinking that. With it being Tesla, it's hard to say which it is.

And your suggestion of buying the stock is right. If Tesla can really deliver a valuable FSD product and nobody else has one to match they might be able to jack up their price. But as you say, in that case, their stock would zoom up, probably more.

Well, you can't be sure, but the history gives strong evidence it will. If there is competition it will come down. If Tesla is not selling enough it will come down (they have made drastic price cuts in the cost of the physical car, and it's not just software.) The usual history of technology and software products is that their price comes down, and down a lot.

Counter to that, we have Musk saying it will go up, and having raised it recently. So the article is to help you figure out your bet.

I'm not sure that the type of software Tesla is selling, which is more than just software as it comes with lifetime updates (and lifetime cloud services, such as the infrastructure needed to support advanced advanced summon), does tend to go down over time.

In fact, I can't think of anything equivalent to it in the retail space. Windows, QuickBooks, Office... None of them offer free lifetime updates. And I'm not sure they do go down in price over time (comparing the latest version, of course).

There are probably closer analogies in the b2b software space, but even there I can't think of any that provide free lifetime updates (and support). Has the price of the latest version of Microsoft SQL Server gone up or down over the last decade? (Compare the latest version today to the latest version 10 years ago.)

It'll be interesting to see just how much in the way of updates the current FSD purchasers get. There's an implication that FSD will get you everything Tesla ever does in the way of self-driving, but I'm not sure if the fine print actually confirms that. Does the current FSD even offer Tesla Network access? Or have they removed that? Perhaps it doesn't matter, if there's no promise that they won't take a 99% commission on Tesla Network anyway.

All that said this doesn't mean the price won't come down. I suspect we'll at least have some temporary discounts at less than $4,000. But if if Tesla achieves its goals, I can't see them offering the software so cheaply. They might not even offer the software at all in the future. Free lifetime updates will almost surely go away. I suspect eventually Tesla, and all the robocar companies, will charge for software by the mile. If Tesla achieves its goals, $6,000 is a steal.

Of course, if Tesla achieves its goals, their stock is a steal too.

You are correct that once Tesla attains something they call "full self driving" then they may not give major improvements to it for free. Most software companies give free updates on minor versions and charge for new major versions, unless they are subscription based, that's true.

But not all. With Android, you keep getting new versions of Android until it becomes no longer practical to port them to your old phone. Of course with non commercial software like linux you get free updates for life, though not to your old release.

What is true is that competition drives down prices, especially in software which does not have a per-unit cost. If Tesla has the only product like this in the market, they might very well get to charge $10K over the price of the car. If GM has a competing product and sells it for $3K, Tesla will have trouble charging $10K. Right now Tesla need not be scared because the big automakers like GM have not actually figured out the new way of selling cars. Maybe they never will, but somebody will.

My statement that tech doesn't go up in price should be modified. The same level of tech goes down in price. The history of the software world is to make a new version with lots of shiny new features and charge you more for that, but the old level of features goes down in price, or vanishes from the market.

GM will never sell software that upgrades a Tesla from autopilot-only to FSD. So I don't see how GM will ever compete in that market.

Sure, they might come out with a less expensive autonomous vehicle. And Tesla might respond by including FSD for no additional charge in new Teslas. But that doesn't impact the decision on whether or not to buy FSD today.

You are correct that Tesla could decide to rake existing Tesla owners over the coals even in a competitive market for a while. But not forever.

Imagine that GM or another company has a capable electric competitor to the Tesla in a similar price range. And they include Cruise FSD for $2,000. Tesla is under pressure to compete and only charge around $2K as well -- to new buyers. Yes, they could say, "It's $10,000 to old buyers." Old buyers have nowhere else to go. They would feel angry, and this would hurt Tesla's reputation with new buyers.

In addition, old buyers would be tempted to sell their old Tesla (without FSD) and buy another car where they can get FSD for $2K instead of $10K.

Of course, there are many factors on which cars compete, so Tesla can earn some premiums. But it can't get too nuts if the other products are real competitors. Their best plan is to say what may well be the truth -- that upgrading the old car requires $8000 of hardware and $2K of software, and then people won't feel so cheated.

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