Tesla is bringing the strategies pioneered by Apple to the auto
industry. Consumers are learning that's not always a good thing.
SAN FRANCISCO—Tesla released its futuristic *Full Self-Driving* package
last year to great fanfare, criticism and the usual stream of video uploads
showing off cars that could seemingly drive themselves.
Then something strange happened.
The electric-vehicle giant revoked access for some drivers, it said. Tesla
CEO Elon Musk announced on Twitter in March that some users who had received
access to the company's most advanced driver-assistance features “did not
pay sufficient attention to the road.” Tesla did not say how it made the
determination or who among the feature's 2,000 beta testers ” who shelled
out thousands for the package that Tesla now priced at $10,000 ” would lose
The cars' groundbreaking over-the-air updates mean users can be subject to
sudden performance changes if products become out of date ” like battery
throttling for which Apple has come under fire. Tesla's unique systems have
also proved difficult for government authorities investigating crashes to
decode, a problem that echoes federal authorities' difficulty unlocking
Apple devices. [...]
Months after buying a used Tesla Model S for nearly $46,000, Harpreet Singh
began to notice the car wouldn't travel far enough on a single charge to
cover his work trips frequently stretching more than 200 miles.
Tesla had taken about 40 miles of range off his used Model S, which began
with 265 miles, in what Tesla said was an effort to protect the battery. The
update also slowed down charging times, Singh said. Tesla ultimately agreed
to replace what it later concluded was a faulty battery, but at the expense
of what Singh has found is slower acceleration.
After the car and its new battery were working properly, Singh began to
dread system updates, because they introduced new problems like the shorter
range and decreased charging rates.
Singh said he thinks about it like other tech updates. “I'm so comfortable
with Windows 8. … Why do I have to change to Windows 10? And then everything
breaks,” said Singh, 33, of Cypress, Tex. “Same thing here. … They can do
anything to do it.” [...]
Full self-driving features are also not transferrable between cars, meaning
an owner who has shelled out $10,000 for the software would have to buy it
for their next Tesla as well.
Musk has said, however, that Tesla will look into upping the trade-in value
for a vehicle with Full Self-Driving, after some owners complained about
having to purchase it twice.