Tesla pushes to increase ‘full self-driving’ software use as vehicle sales cool

A Tesla Model 3 using the Autopilot Full Self-Driving Beta software last year. PHOTO: MIKE BLAKE/REUTERS
A Tesla Model 3 using the Autopilot Full Self-Driving Beta software last year. PHOTO: MIKE BLAKE/REUTERS


Elon Musk has said drivers with FSD enabled will get a one-month free trial starting in the coming days.

Tesla is stepping up promotion of its driver-assistance technology, called “Full Self-Driving Capability," seeking to expand use of the revenue-generating software feature as it confronts the prospect of lower growth in vehicle deliveries this year.

Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, told employees this week in an internal email that customers must receive a test drive using the technology before they receive a car.

The system is an advanced version of the company’s Autopilot technology, which is available on all new Teslas and is designed to help with driving tasks like steering and lane changes. Full Self-Driving, an upgrade available for $12,000 up front or $199 a month as a subscription service, includes features that can navigate cars through city streets.

“I know this will slow down the delivery process, but it is nonetheless a hard requirement," Musk said in the employee email, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

U.S. drivers whose vehicles are capable of running FSD will get a one-month free trial in the coming days, he added in a post on X late Monday.

Tesla’s stock was up more than 4% in midday trading Tuesday. As of Monday’s close, the stock had fallen more than 30% in 2024, making it the worst performer in the S&P 500 index.

The developments come as Tesla has been under intense regulatory and legal scrutiny over the company’s development and marketing of its driver-assistance systems. It is also happening as the automaker rolls out a revamped version of Full Self-Driving Capability that Musk has said relies more on artificial intelligence.

Tesla has emphasized on its website and in users’ manuals that the software doesn’t allow for fully autonomous driving and requires active driver supervision.

Tesla didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Musk has long described autonomous driving as a linchpin to Tesla’s lofty market valuation and a critical step in developing a future “robotaxi" model without a steering wheel or pedals. This model would allow owners to provide Uber-style rides to paying customers around the clock.

He has frequently talked up the development of Full Self-Driving over the past year as Tesla’s profit margins started to narrow.

Late last year, Tesla recalled the software behind Autopilot, among the most well-known driver-assistance systems on the market today, in response to an investigation by federal auto-safety regulators.

The recall covered nearly all Teslas sold in the U.S. at the time—about two million vehicles in total—and the automaker agreed to make changes after the regulators found that Tesla’s safeguards around the technology were inadequate in certain cases, potentially leading drivers to misuse the system.

Write to Ryan Felton at ryan.felton@wsj.com and Rebecca Elliott at rebecca.elliott@wsj.com

Catch all the Corporate news and Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates & Live Business News.