Tesla’s Full Self-Driving product is not truly ‘full’ self-driving.

Tesla's Full Self-Driving product is not truly 'full' self-driving.

Tesla’s Confusing “Full Self-Driving” Subscription: A Misnomer or Marketing Genius?

Tesla has recently made waves in the automotive industry with the announcement of its subscription add-on for self-driving features. However, the language used in their marketing has created some confusion among customers and industry experts alike. Let’s dive into the details and explore the implications of this new offering.

First, let’s address the confusing terminology used by Tesla. The company is now offering a subscription for an enhanced version of their “autopilot” feature, which they refer to as “full self-driving.” This terminology suggests that the car is capable of complete autonomy, which is not entirely accurate. In fact, the terminology clashes with the official industry language used to describe autonomous driving, known as “advanced driver-assistance systems” or ADAS.

So what does Tesla’s “full self-driving” subscription actually offer? According to their description, the car can assist in changing lanes, help with parallel and perpendicular parking, move in and out of tight spaces with the click of a key fob or tap of an app, and automatically navigate parking garages. In addition, there are beta features such as highway navigation and automated response to traffic signals, with the promise of future updates to include city street navigation.

However, it’s important to note that all these features still require active driver supervision. Tesla’s website explicitly states that their Autopilot and Full Self-Driving features do not make the vehicle autonomous. Full autonomy, which requires surpassing human driver reliability through billions of miles of experience and regulatory approval, is yet to be achieved.

The confusion lies in the discrepancy between Tesla’s use of the term “full self-driving” and the industry’s definition of various levels of driving automation. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has defined six levels of driving automation, from no driving automation to full driving automation. Tesla’s system falls short of this industry definition, as a level 4 or 5 automation would involve the vehicle operating without human supervision.

This misuse of terminology raises ethical concerns in the field of AI and machine learning. Given the existing confusion among the public regarding autonomy in automobiles and other automated systems, it is crucial for companies to use accurate and transparent language to avoid misleading customers.

Despite the confusion, Tesla’s subscription offer presents an interesting opportunity for the company. According to Pierre Ferragu of New Street Research, there are approximately 1.6 million Tesla vehicles eligible for the subscription, based on cars shipped since 2016 when self-driving hardware became standard. Initially, there may be a negative financial impact for Tesla as customers switch from the one-time payment add-on to the subscription plan. However, Ferragu predicts a growing contribution to gross margins in the future, assuming 40-80% penetration of Tesla customers. This could potentially boost Tesla’s gross profit by six to eleven points by around 2025.

In conclusion, Tesla’s introduction of a subscription add-on for self-driving features has sparked both excitement and confusion. The company’s use of the term “full self-driving” is misleading, as the current technology still requires human driver supervision. However, with the potential for increased profitability and accessibility to these features, Tesla’s subscription offering could be a strategic move for the company. Moving forward, it is important for Tesla and other companies in the industry to be transparent and accurate with their terminology to avoid ethical and consumer trust issues.