Tesla wants owners to pay $1,500 for hardware they thought they already had

A white Tesla Model S is pictured at a Tesla facility in Littleton, Colorado.
One long-time Tesla owner felt like the company is “screwing over its earliest supporters.”

  • Tesla launched a subscription option for its Full Self-Driving driver-assistance feature.
  • Tesla said in 2016 that all cars moving forward would have the hardware for Full Self-Driving.
  • But some owners are being asked to pay $1,500 to upgrade their cars’ computers.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Tesla launched a long-awaited subscription option for its Full Self-Driving feature this month, slashing the system’s cost from a hefty $10,000 one-time payment to $199 per month.

The subscription, which Elon Musk had been promising for months, is huge for some Tesla owners as it allows them to test out Full Self-Driving without blowing the college fund. Moreover, buyers can cancel at any time if they don’t think the feature – which automates some driving tasks but doesn’t make cars autonomous – is worth the cost.

But there’s an expensive catch that’s peeving some long-time Tesla owners.

People who bought their Tesla before the middle of 2019 need to fork over $1,500 to upgrade their vehicle’s computer if they want to subscribe. That directly contradicts the automaker’s 2016 announcement that all vehicles built from that point on would come equipped with the hardware to run Full Self-Driving.

“It feels like Tesla is screwing over its earliest supporters,” Arjun, who bought a Model 3 when it launched in 2018 and described himself as a “long-time Tesla supporter, stockholder, and fan,” told Insider. “We are not asking for a quick buck or a discount, we are just asking for the hardware we were told came preinstalled on our vehicles.”

Arjun, who asked that Insider not use his full name, said it was a “huge selling point” that his Model 3 came with Full Self-Driving hardware, given that he intended to purchase the software at some point down the line. He called Tesla’s move a “blatant bait and switch.”

Read more: Read the $1 million-penalty contract Elon Musk’s tunnel company used to keep its tech secret

Other Tesla owners in similar situations aired their grievances on social media.

“Would be nice to get a cheaper installation or something, considering we were helping them when dying was a real possibility for Tesla. However, I expect nothing,” one Reddit user said.

“I have a 2018 M3 and I’m furious,” another person said, referring to the Model 3 sedan. “I’d love to see some legal action taken.”

Some also lamented that in order to subscribe they have to buy Autopilot, a the company’s driver-assistance system that used to cost $3,000 but became standard on all Teslas in 2019.

Tesla didn’t return a request for comment.

When Tesla launched its latest-generation Full Self-Driving computer in 2019, it began offering free upgrades to owners who had paid full fare for the feature. But those who held out for the subscription are on their own.

Tesla has a shaky history of not delivering on its automated-driving tech. Musk has been saying since at least 2016 that full autonomy is right around the corner. He promised that by 2020, owners would be able to generate passive income by turning their cars into robotaxis.

But Full Self-Driving is still far from living up to its branding. The most advanced beta version of the software – currently in the hands of a couple thousand Tesla owners – requires full driver attention and still has major flaws.

Arjun says Tesla should cover the hardware upgrade costs for vehicles that Tesla claimed had the right computers to begin with.

“I love my Model 3 and continue to believe in the tech behind Tesla, but they’re no longer a start up and they have to behave like a company who stands behind their word,” he said. “I believe Tesla should waive the fee/absorb the cost, and then I’d be happy to try out the service. Until then, I’ll stay on my obsolete hardware.”

Read the original article on Business Insider