Tesla Will Let Buyers Try Its Pricey FSD Tech

a person holding a steering wheel in a tesla car
Tesla Will Let Buyers Try Its Pricey FSD SystemTesla
  • Tesla's Full Self-Driving driver-assist system will be offered to new buyers as a free trial for a month.

  • The Level 2 system normally costs $12,000 as a one-time purchase, or on a subscription basis for $199 a month.

  • The EV maker has recently embraced a neural network approach to FSD beta, instead of traditional code, training the system on millions of video clips.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed that the EV maker would offer the company's Full Self-Driving driver-assistance system to new buyers as a free trial for a month, just weeks after another major software update to the system.

Additionally, the EV maker will give new Tesla buyers a demonstration of the software upon delivery of every new Tesla—something it hasn't done in the past.


Currently, FSD costs $12,000 as a one-time payment or $199 a month on a subscription basis. But at one point in the past the system cost $15,000.

The one-month free trial comes just weeks after Tesla announced that instead of conventional code, the beta version of the Level 2 driver-assist system would be run by neural networks that were trained on millions of video clips, as the EV maker revealed back in January.

The one-month trial was not immediately seen by industry observers as an indication that Tesla is ready to cut prices for the system, after a year of significant price cuts for some of its EVs.

Instead, the move is seen as more of a marketing push for the technology.

But groundbreaking leaps in capabilities for the Level 2 system—one of three distinct suites Tesla offers alongside Autopilot and Enhanced Autopilot—did not seem to materialize in Version 12, or FSD V12.3.1 as the latest iteration is called.

The system still requires driver attention at all times, thereby remaining a Level 2 driver-assist system, even with incremental improvements via OTA updates that Tesla has been making for years.

Tesla has focused in recent years on a vision-only approach to sensors for its three driver-assistance systems, relying solely on cameras but not radar or lidar. This move has raised questions about just how far the software can evolve as more capable systems from competitors, including Level 3 systems, hit the market.

"Autopilot, Enhanced Autopilot, and Full Self-Driving Capability are intended for use with a fully attentive driver, who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any moment," Tesla says on its website.

The new marketing push for FSD comes amid a roll-out of competing Level 2 systems from other automakers.

Tesla is seen as having staked quite a bit on the development of FSD, as well as the more basic Autopilot suite, which itself has not been without controversy in recent years.

But it's unclear just how much of a revenue bump FSD and the two versions of Autopilot produce for the EV maker, or just how much buyer interest there is for such systems.

Tesla's plans for a free trial of FSD also come amid a crossroads of sorts for similar Level 2 driver-assist systems, which require driver attention at all times, and more advanced Level 3 systems that permit eyes-off and hands-off operation for prolonged periods. The latter are currently permitted in only a handful of US states, with Mercedes-Benz being the only major automaker to offer them to customers in the US.

Other automakers have held off on Level 2 and Level 3 systems entirely, judging the evolving technology to still be too unreliable for daily use.

Will there be an increase in demand for Level 2 and Level 3 systems in the coming years, or will these remain relatively rare absent a big breakthrough? Let us know what you think.