Content creator Justin Demaree, more commonly known as Bearded Tesla Guy, has come out with a YouTube video that basically advises people not to purchase the $15,000-upgrade to full self-driving (FSD) for their Teslas without first understanding the list of limitations their cars would have in enabling the coveted autonomous feature.
“I may get a lot of heat for this one, but I speak the truth. Tesla needs to fix this, it is NOT clear to customers what they are paying for/not getting,” he tweeted.
In the video, Demaree prefaced that back in October 2022, Tesla made a bold decision to eliminate Ultrasonic Sensors (USS) from its Model 3 and Model Y vehicles. This was followed by a similar removal from the Model S and Model X. The company’s push towards a Vision-Only approach led to the removal of hardware even before the software was fully prepared to take over.
While Tesla has a history of making such transitions, including the removal of radar and the gradual rollout of vision-only capabilities, this time the consequences are more pronounced, especially for their highly anticipated FSD capabilities. The removal of USS turned out to be premature, as the software lacked the necessary development to accurately detect obstacles and distances around the vehicles. Consequently, several features included in the FSD package remained inactive.
Fast forward to March 2023, and Tesla introduced new variants of the Model X and Model S, equipped with the cutting-edge Hardware 4 (HW4) suite. This updated hardware configuration comprised new cameras, an upgraded onboard computer, and notably, a new High-Definition (HD) Radar for the Model S and Model X. The Model Y followed suit three months later, albeit with a slightly scaled-down version that excluded the HD radar. The standard Model 3 is expected to incorporate the HW4 components once Project Highland, the upcoming Model 3 refresh, commences its customer deliveries.
However, the transition to HW4 hardware has brought forth challenges similar to the USS removal. Demaree highlighted that the software remains unready to leverage the capabilities of HW4, marking yet another instance where Tesla’s hardware and software timelines have not aligned. Despite the anticipation of receiving FSD Beta for the new hardware setups after a wait of six months for Model X and Model S, and three months for Model Y, Tesla chief Elon Musk’s recent announcement dampened hopes. Musk disclosed that the FSD Beta for HW4-equipped vehicles, covering the entire current Tesla lineup barring the pre-refresh Model 3, will be delayed by an additional six months compared to the completion of HW3 FSD development.
“This is pretty bad because this car I have right now has already been six months without the ability to have full self-driving beta. That means at least for a year since Hardware 4 started rolling out, there will be no full self-driving beta,” Demaree said.
The delay stems from Tesla’s strategic decision to focus on refining the performance of HW3 FSD before transitioning the software to HW4-equipped vehicles. While this approach underscores Tesla’s commitment to quality, it has led to frustration among customers eagerly awaiting the enhanced autonomous capabilities.
Adding to the complexity is Tesla’s ongoing offer of FSD package upgrades to HW4 vehicle owners, both before and after delivery, often incentivized with a complimentary three-month trial. Regrettably, these features remain inaccessible in HW4 vehicles due to the software’s unreadiness. This misalignment has raised concerns about transparency and communication from Tesla’s end, leaving consumers unaware of the limitations until they’re near delivery.
“Here’s the problem I have with all this. Not only is it not being talked about enough but Tesla’s not doing a good job of educating consumers when they take a delivery of a brand new Tesla,” the Bearded Tesla Guy reasoned.
There’s autopilot issues too
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) meanwhile has once again requested additional information from Tesla regarding the safety of its Autopilot system. This request is prompted by concerns over a change that allows extended use of Autopilot without prompting the driver to place their hands on the steering wheel.
NHTSA is investigating several crashes involving Tesla vehicles hitting parked emergency vehicles and is also looking into whether drivers remain attentive while using Autopilot. This follows previous inquiries into Tesla’s driver monitoring systems (DMS). The NHTSA has asked for details about the DMS and Tesla’s safety reports.
Musk has mentioned plans to reduce alerts for keeping hands on the wheel. Tesla must provide information about the software update’s introduction, affected vehicles, reasons, and future plans by August 25. Failure to comply may incur penalties. These actions coincide with Tesla facing lawsuits related to accidents allegedly caused by Autopilot, with hearings scheduled for September and October.
Information for this briefing was found via TechCrunch and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.