Tesla brings back Enhanced Autopilot driver assistance

Industry

Tesla Inc. is bringing back its “Enhanced Autopilot” driving-assistance package for $6,000, which will sit between standard Autopilot and the automaker’s $12,000 beta test software that it calls Full Self Driving, despite not having that capability.

CEO Elon Musk confirmed the move on Twitter earlier this month in response to a request from Trevor Page, founder of the Tesla Owners Online forum.

“Tesla needs to bring this back for everyone,” Page wrote on Twitter in response to an article announcing the return of Enhanced Autopilot in Australia and New Zealand. Full Self Driving, Page wrote, “is too expensive for what you get.”

The package is often abbreviated as FSD.

On June 17, Musk responded: “Ok.”

Enhanced Autopilot is now available on Tesla’s U.S. website.

Reintroducing Enhanced Autopilot could generate sales for Tesla from customers who find FSD too expensive or too inconsistent, but want additional features beyond standard Autopilot, such as automatic lane changes while navigating on cruise control.

One of the main differences between the two systems is that Enhanced Autopilot is primarily for highway use while FSD includes steering, accelerating and braking on city streets. Standard autopilot functions much like the advanced cruise control offered by most automakers.

Twitter user Troy Teslike, who forecasts Tesla metrics such as sales and satisfaction scores, estimates that the take rate for FSD in North America was 14 percent in the first quarter of this year. That compares to 50 percent in 2019 when it was less than half the price.

Tesla disbanded its press office two years ago and did not respond to a request for comment from Automotive News.

Gary Black, managing partner at The Future Fund, wrote in a social media post last week that Enhanced Autopilot could help Tesla margins, “given FSD’s low take rate.”

But Black, who is bullish on Tesla, also warned that it could cannibalize revenue from FSD.

Tesla has rolled out access to the full FSD beta software over the past year. Previously, only some of its features were available to customers who purchased the package. Musk has said that more than 100,000 drivers now have access to the full suite of features.

But reviews have been mixed.

Some users report the ability to run errands with zero interventions — meaning that their car will basically drive itself under the supervision of the driver with hands on the wheel. Other users report that it can barely go down the street without making a mistake.

Whole Mars Catalog, a Tesla enthusiast account on Twitter, wrote last week: “I love FSD Beta, but in no way is it ready for Robotaxi,” meaning fully autonomous. “It’s not even 100 percent ready to be a publicly released driver assistance program.”

A day later, the same account wrote: “perfect day with Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Beta today. All zero takeover drives, for hours.” The account also records the drives and posts them on YouTube.

Tesla’s driver-assistance software has long been controversial. Some experts claim even its naming scheme — Autopilot, Full Self Driving — misinforms owners and leads to distracted driving by users who overestimate its capabilities.

In early June, federal regulators said they had expanded an investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot system to cover an estimated 830,000 vehicles from the 2014-2022 model years. The investigation is focused on 16 crashes involving Tesla vehicles with Autopilot engaged.

Enhanced Autopilot was phased out in 2019 and its key features were rolled into FSD.

For years, Musk has promised that FSD was on the verge of advancing to autonomous-driving levels that would be safer than a human driver. He also said this year that by 2024, the automaker will make automated “robotaxi” vehicles without driver controls.

Enhanced Autopilot also has features such as parking assist and “smart summon” — designed to move a Tesla vehicle within a parking lot or driveway without the driver inside.

When Enhanced Autopilot was phased out in 2019, the price was $5,000. The FSD replacement also cost $5,000. The price has sharply increased in recent years.

On its webpage, Tesla says of FSD: “The currently enabled features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous.”

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