Tesla Offers One-Month Free Trial of FSD to All US Customers

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Tesla Offers One-Month Free Trial of FSD to All US Customers

Prepare to get your minds blown, because Tesla has announced that every Tesla in the US will get a free trial of FSD for one month starting later this week.

Tesla is finally rolling out its FSD Beta v12 software, which CEO Elon Musk has referred to as “mind-blowing” – a term he has used for many other point releases of the software.

The update has been anticipated for a long time, but like many Tesla updates, it has been delayed several months.

FSD Beta v12 has significant back-end improvements to Tesla’s learning algorithm, which now takes advantage of “end-to-end neural nets.” This means that decisionmaking can be determined based on deep learning from Tesla’s massive amount of driving data, rather than having programmers code the logic themselves.

The system currently offers little true functional difference to how people use their cars, because it is officially a “Level 2” system, where the driver is still responsible for choices while the car is turned on. So you still have to pay attention to the road, even though Tesla has repeatedly said that the software will be capable of full level 5 “robotaxi”-style operation at some point in the future (with that future coming “this time next year,” for the last several years, according to CEO Musk).

FSD also costs a lot – $12k now, though it used to cost $15k – so a lot of owners don’t bother to buy it. In response to the extremely high price of FSD, Tesla also offers a subscription model, where you can try the system for $199/month.

But take rate has been relatively low. And so Tesla has occasionally offered temporary trials of FSD for certain customers. It once offered 3 months of FSD as an end-of-quarter sales incentive, and it also recently gave a 30-day trial of Enhanced Autopilot (but not FSD) for the holidays. You can also get three months of free FSD by using a current owner’s referral code when purchasing a vehicle.

But those promotions were apparently not enough, and Tesla seems like it won’t stop until everyone has had a chance to try its FSD software.

Earlier today, Musk told Tesla employees that they must start giving demo drives of FSD to every newly-delivered Tesla, something that will likely cause quite a backlog during Tesla’s traditional end-of-quarter delivery rush happening this week.

And then later today, Musk said that all owners will get temporary access to FSD, for one month, starting this week.

The idea for this promotion was floated last May, with Musk stating that Tesla would give a free month of FSD to everyone in North America as soon as it is “super smooth.”

Apparently the system now crosses that bar – or, well, maybe not quite, since it seems that we have backtracked to everyone in the US, rather than everyone in North America. Sorry, Canada and Mexico.

Another open question (sort of – we’re betting the answer is no) is whether or not cars with previous hardware revisions will get this update.

Tesla has said that every car since October 2016 has full self-driving hardware built in, but it turns out that the hardware at the time actually did not have enough computing power to handle FSD tasks and needed to be upgraded. Owners who purchased FSD got a free upgrade to the new hardware, but when the subscription service came out, Tesla started charging owners $1,500 (later lowered to $1,000) for hardware they already bought.

So these cars are “capable of FSD,” at least if Tesla’s 2016 blog post is to be believed, and given the knowledge that the purchasers had when they bought it. However, we’re guessing Tesla will not offer hardware upgrades to these owners, despite that they were told when they purchased the car that they had all the hardware for FSD.

Although if you really wanted it, you could probably sue to get a free upgrade, like one owner successfully did.

Electrek’s Take

We haven’t tried v12 yet, but we’ve been promised several times to have our “minds blown” by FSD updates, and alas, our minds are still well contained within their respective headcases.

The system does seem to be improving, but improvements have been quite gradual over time. Even for those of us who don’t use it very often (I mainly drive a Roadster), going a year or two between FSD activations, I haven’t noticed any particularly huge improvements in the system’s driving capabilities.

What actually did blow my mind were my rides in Mercedes’ Level 3 DRIVE PILOT system and Waymo’s Level 4 autonomous taxi. Those are systems where the car can actually take control of the vehicle under certain circumstances, and you actually don’t have to drive it. As-is, FSD does not do that, so any improvement is just a better driver’s aid, not an actual full self-driving system

Until FSD actually gets closer to its promise of full autonomy – namely, making the step change from level 2 to level 3, where the car is actually responsible for the driving task in some circumstances – all of these demos and “mind-blowing” updates seem more like a novelty to me.

And in particular, as I’ve said above in this article and many times before, if Tesla is going to give this upgrade to “all US cars that are capable of FSD,” it needs to upgrade the computers on the cars that it sold as capable of FSD, and it needs to do it for free. Those owners bought that hardware, and Tesla needs to give it to them.

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