Back in October, Tesla removed a popular option from its online configurator. While it continued to offer the semi-autonomous and advanced adaptive cruise control setup it calls Autopilot, you could no longer add the Full Self-Driving Capability package. At the time, CEO Elon Musk said it was “causing too much confusion.” But surprisingly, when the configurator for the long-anticipated $35,000 base Model 3 went live, the controversial package was back, as well.
Also available off menu for a week. Was causing too much confusion.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 18, 2018
According to the description, the Full Self-Driving Capability package adds a more advanced version of Autopilot that can handle highway on-ramps and off-ramps. You also get automatic parking and the Summon feature that Tesla says gives your car the ability to drive to your location. But while the site promises the package will gain features such as the ability to operate on city streets and respond to traffic signals, it’s easy to understand why calling it “Full Self-Driving Capability” confused buyers. Back in 2016, Tesla removed all “self-driving” language from its Chinese consumer site following a crash that the driver blamed on misleading advertising.
Even more confusing is the fine print underneath the description, which starts with the line, “The currently enabled features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous.” It then goes on to say, “The activation and use of these features are dependent on achieving reliability far in excess of human drivers as demonstrated by billions of miles of experience, as well as regulatory approval, which may take longer in some jurisdictions.”
Since Tesla originally stopped offering the package because it confused customers, you might think it would change the name to “Future Self-Driving Capability” or something similar. Instead, Tesla stuck with the original name. Why? Because Musk believes legitimate self-driving is just around the corner.
On a conference call with reporters today, he said Tesla made the decision to bring back the package because it’s much closer to introducing self-driving features. He then added that the prototype version of Autopilot he uses already handles city driving well. He did, however, reiterate that drivers will still need to monitor their cars while Autopilot is engaged.
We remain unconvinced for now, but maybe customers now have a better understanding of the limitations of the Full Self-Driving Capability package than they did before.