Tesla was recently ordered by a judge to upgrade an owner's self-driving computer system. This is so the customer can actually begin to use the Full Self-Driving beta software he paid for, without having to pay extra now. Other Tesla customers appear to be in a similar situation, so it will interesting to see how this all plays out.
As the story goes, Tesla charged many customers for Full Self-Driving (FSD) capability long before the tech was ready to ship. Later, it began testing the tech in the real world with owners at the wheel. It has been years since FSD first came to market, and while Tesla has added many features and made marked improvements, it's still not a "self-driving" system.
Tesla has already had to upgrade the FSD computer even though it said that all vehicles would be produced with the hardware necessary to run the software. Fortunately, the automaker provided the upgrade for free.
Interestingly, even though Tesla eliminated customer concerns by offering the free upgrade, the problem was yet to be solved. This is because Tesla started offering a subscription version of FSD that cost only $199 per month rather than the $12,000 to $15,000 people were paying up front. Moreover, the subscription could be added or canceled at any time.
When some owners paid for the subscription, they still couldn't use the technology without also paying $1,500 to get the needed FSD computer upgrade. While Tesla was covering the upgrade for people who paid in full, this wasn't the case for the subscribers. Tesla eventually reduced the computer upgrade cost to $1,000.
One of the impacted customers sued Tesla for charging extra for the computer after promising all hardware was included or free to upgrade. According to a recent article published by Electrek, he won. Ian Jordan headed to a Washington small claims court, but Tesla didn't show up to fight the case. The judge ruled, via Electrek:
"Furthermore, Plaintiff purchased a second Tesla Model 3, relying on advertisement from the company that all Tesla 3 models come with all the necessary hardware for self-driving. Defendant learned that, in fact, installing the self-driving function would cost $1,106 in further hardware upgrades in violation of Tesla’s false advertising."
The Tesla owner also won a related claim after the company told him that he would need to upgrade a component on his other Tesla vehicle. The unit was under warranty, but Tesla wanted to charge him to move up to the newer version. The judge ruled that this is a breach of warranty, and Tesla must pay Jordan for the cost of the new unit (~$1,650) plus an additional $500 in compensation for issues caused by the loss of functionality.