Tesla wants to convince more customers to buy its Autopilot upgrade.
The company just cut the price of its “Enhanced Autopilot” package by $1,500 for qualifying customers. The driver assistance features include automatic parking, lane change help and traffic-aware cruise control.
Tesla customers who don’t already have Enhanced Autopilot and have never partaken in a free trial of the service are eligible to test it at no charge for 30 days. For a week after the trial, they they are eligible to receive the upgrade for $5,500 instead of $7,000, the company said in a recent blog post. The news was reported earlier by tech blog Electrek.
A Tesla (TSLA) spokesperson did not say how long the promotion would last.
Tesla’s offer comes on the heels of a software update called Navigate on Autopilot. The feature can automatically guide a car on a highway. It can suggest and perform lane changes, navigate highway interchanges and take exits. Customers who already own Enhanced Autopilot can add Navigate on Autopilot for free through a software update, and the feature will be included in the free trial of Enhanced Autopilot.
Tesla announced the new features October 26. It is currently beta testing the feature.
What is Autopilot?
Tesla includes some autonomous safety features as standard, including emergency braking. But drivers must pay for the Enhanced Autopilot upgrade to use features like “Summon,” which allows cars to drive themselves in and out of tight parking spaces. Enhanced Autopilot also includes “Traffic-Aware Cruise Control,” which automatically keeps a car going with the speed of traffic. The features can be added to any Tesla vehicle for $5,000 at the time of purchase.
Despite its name, Tesla’s Autopilot system is not fully autonomous – even with Navigate on Autopilot. The system handles some functions, but Tesla instructs drivers to stay engaged and keep their hands on the wheel at all times. Drivers also have to confirm when the Navigate on Autopilot feature suggests lane changes.
Consumer Reports recently tested the Navigate on Autopilot feature and concluded it was “technologically impressive.” But testers “also had serious concerns about how the feature performed in real-world driving, especially in heavy traffic.”
As Consumer Reports editor Keith Barry wrote in the article, “While Navigate on Autopilot in no way transforms a Tesla into a self-driving car, it does offer a glimpse into what the future of vehicle autonomy might look like—including the potential problems.” He noted, for example, that the Navigate on Autopilot system occasionally suggested a lane change that would have cut off another driver.
Autopilot has been a source of controversy for Tesla. Critics have argued that the name Autopilot implies the car is capable of fully autonomous driving, which can lull drivers into a false sense of security. Tesla argues that the feature saves lives.