Tesla’s ambitions for full self-driving (FSD) vehicles haven’t gone quite as planned. After stating all vehicles manufacturered since 2016 had “all the needed hardware” to drive themselves, then charging some customers a hardware upgrade fee, a judge has now ordered Tesla to upgrade an owner’s vehicle for free over false advertising.
Here’s the problem. Tesla has yet to deliver FSD, even though a beta version of its self-driving software is available for $15,000. Before that, it cost $12,000; at one point, it was only $7,000. The company claimed any Tesla owner could pay for FSD, then enjoy the experience.
However, the company eventually had to upgrade the hardware and computer system in vehicles to take advantage of FSD as the technology improved. As a result, Tesla offered a free computer upgrade to car owners who paid for the full self-driving package. The new FSD computer is known as Hardware 3.0 or HW3.
But then, in mid-2021, Tesla released an FSD subscription service where owners could pay $199 per month for the technology instead of a lump sum. If you didn’t have a newer vehicle with the upgraded HW3.0 computer, you had to pay for it. Essentially, Tesla advertised all cars were capable of FSD but now wants to charge $1,000 to upgrade the computer in vehicles.
In the lawsuit, an owner paid the monthly $199 for Tesla’s full self-driving technology, but his car wasn’t compatible. Then, had to pay more to upgrade the computer. Tesla didn’t show up for the court date. As a result, a judge has ordered Tesla to reimburse the owner due to false advertisement. While this is just one customer, it sets a precedent for others to follow the same path. That said, filing a lawsuit in small claims court is easier said than done.
Interestingly enough, rumors suggest Tesla is preparing to release an all-new Hardware 4.0 (HW4) computer with upgraded high-resolution radar sensors in early 2023, which could help it achieve full self-driving. We’ll have to wait and see if that’s a free upgrade or a computer only available on new vehicles like a redesigned Model 3 or the upcoming Cybertruck.