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Tesla Stops Activating Full Self-Driving Software in New Cars During Recall

Owners can still purchase FSD Beta, but they won't get access until Tesla fixes its safety issues.
Tesla Model Y Performance
via Tesla

Electric automaker Tesla temporarily stopped further deployment of its Full Self-Driving software to new beta participants, effective immediately. The news comes following a recall of 362,000 cars enrolled in Tesla’s FSD Beta program that could violate state and local road laws due to the car’s programming.

Tesla says it has paused the rollout of FSD Beta to all who have purchased the software but have not yet received it. New FSD Beta participants (those who have paid but have not yet installed the software on their vehicles) will not be eligible to install Tesla’s FSD software “until the software version containing the fix is available.” The automaker did not include a timeline for the fix in its recall FAQs but does note that the fix would be available “in the coming weeks” in its official NHTSA recall notice.

Tesla Model Y Interior Navigation

Despite the recall and pause, you can still purchase Tesla’s $15,000 Full Self-Driving software. Likely, this is because Tesla intends to fix the problem prior to delivering new vehicles, or activating the driver’s access to the FSD Beta program. Other owners have complained that they are still permitted to purchase FSD Beta’s $200 per month subscription, yet don’t receive access to the beta due to the pause. One Reddit user even goes as far as to say they feel “scammed” over the ordeal.

The timing of the recall and pause couldn’t have been much worse. The company’s annual investor event is March 1, which means Tesla will likely have to work overtime to woo investors on one of its core products—full vehicle autonomy—that doesn’t actually exist in the wild. Tesla’s value has long been tied to its promise of affordable electric cars and autonomy. And with other automakers catching up in both areas (and in some cases, surpassing Tesla), the automaker will have to begin to work overtime to remain relevant and valuable.

“So there’s like a bunch of stuff like that that we need to fix, but the overwhelming focus is solving Full Self-Driving,” said Tesla CEO Elon Musk during an interview with Tesla Owners of Silicon Valley in June 2022. “That’s essential and really the difference between Tesla being worth a lot of money and being worth basically zero.”

Musk has built a reputation for hyping up the company’s progress on Level 5 autonomy, despite the company not actually delivering on the promise. The automaker was originally planning to send a Tesla across the country autonomously in 2017 but delayed the drive indefinitely. He also claimed the company would launch its service of driverless robotaxis by the end of 2020, however, that has still yet to come to fruition despite other companies receiving regulatory approval. In December 2020, the CEO said he was “100%” confident that Tesla would have Level 5 autonomy in 2021, though its release could be stifled by regulator approval. He doubled down by reiterating the claim the following month.

Tesla’s recall notice now reflects what it told California regulators in 2021: FSD Beta is a Level 2 system. Despite the system always technically being a Level 2 driver assistance system, the sudden public shift even has some FSD software buyers questioning whether or not they have been misled. Some claim to “feel like a sucker” and others are considering asking for a refund altogether. And since FSD is tied to a vehicle and not the buyer’s account, those with aging cars may soon begin to feel the same way.

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