Tesla Autopilot update makes 2016 deadline; Price increase pushed back

Chris Davies - Jan 1, 2017, 11:08pm CST
Tesla Autopilot update makes 2016 deadline; Price increase pushed back

Tesla’s weekend has been busy, with the automaker starting the roll-out of Autopilot to its latest models, as well as extending the window for free Supercharger use. The software update, which according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk began distribution on December 31, 2016, will only be uploaded over-the-air to 1,000 cars initially. After that point, and assuming there are no in-the-field problems observed, it’ll be more broadly distributed in the coming week.

It means Tesla just manages to avoid breaking its promise to bring the very latest Model S and Model X cars up to some level of feature-parity with Autopilot on the earlier models. The so-called HW2 or “hardware 2” versions have upgraded and enhanced sensors, ahead of Tesla’s plans for first Enhanced Autopilot and then, at some point in the future, fully-autonomous driving. However, despite the improvements in the hardware, the software for HW2 cars wasn’t quite ready at launch.

That left the newest owners of Tesla vehicles in the unexpected situation of having better hardware but less functionality than those with older, HW1 cars. Unsurprisingly it was something the automaker was keen to address, hence the software upgrade in the dying gasps of 2016. Autopilot parity, mind, doesn’t mean Enhanced Autopilot which is expected to roll out progressively through 2017; still, Tesla tells SlashGear that even the regular Autopilot features could well perform better on the road in HW2 cars, given the improvements in the sensor technology.

Meanwhile, Tesla has extended the deadline for its free Supercharging offer. Back in November, the automaker announced it would change its policies around charging from Telsa’s own stations. Rather than the free, unlimited use that had been a major perk of Tesla ownership from the launch of the Model S, owners would instead get a limited 400 kWh allowance sufficient, it was suggested, for a 1,000 mile yearly road-trip, but be expected to pay a small fee for any further use.

The switch was not to be retroactive, meaning existing owners would still enjoy the unlimited charges they were accustomed to, and Tesla set a deadline for the end of 2016 for new car orders that would still be eligible. Now, citing “exceptionally high demand at the end of the year,” the automaker has pushed the deadline back by two weeks. Now, any Tesla ordered by January 15, 2017, and built by April 15, 2017, will get free unlimited Supercharging.

Similarly, Tesla has also delayed the price increase that, it notified would-be buyers in the UK, was originally scheduled to take place from today, January 1, 2017. That will now take effect on January 15, 2017. Prices of built-to-order cars in the UK will increase by around 5-percent, which Tesla blamed on currency fluctuations in the country.

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