Tesla Is Making Full Self-Driving Beta Free for the Next Month

A month-long trial of the $12,000 driver-assist system will become available to customers “this week,” Elon Musk said.

byAdam Ismail|
Tesla News photo
Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images


"Almost no one actually realizes how well (supervised) FSD actually works," Elon Musk reportedly wrote in a recent email to Tesla employees. Perhaps it's for that reason, not to mention the brand's dwindling sales mirroring those of EVs on the whole, that Tesla has decided to make its erroneously-named Full Self-Driving Beta available to owners of all supported vehicles for the next month, beginning this week.

Cue the obligatory jokes about how April will go down as the least-traveled month for non-Tesla drivers since the pandemic. "All U.S. cars that are capable of FSD will be enabled for a one-month trial this week," Musk posted on his X platform on Monday night. Full Self-Driving, which is a Level 2 driver-assist system that requires the operator's full attention and both hands on the wheel at all times, is currently a $12,000 software add-on for Tesla vehicles, and every Tesla model going back to late 2016 contains the hardware to run it.

There's certainly an argument to be made that FSD, given its astronomical pricing, is a cash grab preying on customers duped by marketing into thinking the technology is more capable than it actually is. But I will give Tesla some credit, because the five-figure fee inherently means all but the company's most fervent (and deep-pocketed) loyalists are essentially priced out of the game. For the next four weeks, this won't be the case, and there could be plenty more first-time FSD users on the road. I don't mean to be alarmist, but this does give me moderate goosebumps.

Tesla Model S interior. Tesla

Now, Tesla has given away FSD trials in the past, albeit never at this scale. Our old friend Rob Stumpf noted for InsideEVs that the automaker sometimes offers three-month trials with new cars, typically near the end of a quarter. What's more, this mass trial won't apply to Tesla's biggest and sharpest creation to date, the Cybertruck, nor will it be offered on the newly revamped Model 3 "Highland" because both vehicles are still fresh and don't yet support the FSD beta. But most Tesla owners will have the privilege for a limited time, and the rest of us will be beta-test subjects by extension, whether we consent or not.

Tesla appears to be on a push to stoke deliveries, during a year in which Musk expects sales growth to be "notably lower" than in preceding quarters. Convincing new buyers and existing owners of FSD's value could be a strategy to recover some revenue on the back end, as Musk has reportedly instructed Tesla retail staffers to provide demos of the system to customers when possible. Reuters quotes data analyst Troy Teslike as saying that FSD's take rate fell to about 14% in the third quarter of 2022, compared to a high of 53% around the same period in 2019.

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