Since Tesla relies on high-tech software systems and free over-the-air update capability, it has the potential to expand beyond most other automakers, at least on certain fronts. Interestingly, all new Tesla cars are equipped with certain hardware, even if the buyer doesn't pay for its use. We've seen the same situation with Tesla's battery packs in some cases.
In other words, Tesla's vehicles have the hardware for Full Self-Driving capability even if a buyer doesn't pay to use it. Similarly, some Tesla vehicles may have a battery pack that's software-limited to a certain range based on which configuration you choose. Later, the owner could choose to pay to activate certain features and free up more range.
With that said, it may make sense for Tesla to offer some features on a subscription basis. We've already seen other automakers like Volvo and Hyundai building in subscription plans. While owners will almost surely pay more over time if they choose a subscription rather than paying outright, it's convenient and allows flexibility. CEO Elon Musk noted that this would happen in the future, though he did say it won't be as economical as initial purchases.
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Apparently, Tesla owner and hacker @greentheonly has been aware of the existence of code for a potential Full Self-Driving pay-as-you-go subscription service for some time.
Today, you can opt for the Full Self-Driving package for $7,000, even though it's not feature-complete. You're basically buying ahead to save money and "future-proof" your Tesla. Musk has said on several occasions that this price will continue to rise over time.
Some people may not be willing to drop $7,000 at the time of purchase for something that isn't ready yet. They also might not want to pay even more down the road, which could work to limit the adoption of such features. However, if they could pay a smaller subscription-based fee over a period of time, this could be a huge motivator for the adoption of such autonomous technology.
Let us know what you think in the comments below.