The EV automaker will be forcing buyers of older Teslas to pay for an essential feature.
Subscription-based services are likely here to stay in an era of connected cars. BMW's rollout of monthly subscriptions for some luxury features such as heated seats did not receive a warm reception, and Volkswagen is looking into a subscription-based model for autonomous driving technologies. Tesla, which provided navigation as a standard feature for some time, will now be moving to a subscription model that will affect vehicles ordered after July 20, 2022.
Navigation will still be included initially but for only a limited period, after which customers will be charged to continue using the feature. According to Tesla's website, only vehicles purchased between January 9, 2020 and July 20, 2022 come with Standard Connectivity for the lifetime of the vehicle.
If purchased after this date, customers will have to pay extra after the initial eight-year period. For many buyers, eight years is a long enough time to avoid the extra payment as they will likely buy a new car before this period is over. With Tesla taking this first step to retain access to navigation, that eight-year period may be reduced in time. While Standard Connectivity only includes navigation, the Premium Connectivity upgrade comes with a lot more.
For $9.99 per month or $99 per year, Premium Connectivity adds features like an internet browser, live traffic visualization, Sentry Mode, and video streaming. Many Tesla customers go for this option anyway so won't be affected by the change to Standard Connectivity.
It's worth noting that navigation is an essential feature in a Tesla since the brand's infotainment system doesn't support Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The change in access to lifetime navigation will mainly affect customers buying older, used Teslas. Tesla says that at the time of purchase these customers will be informed how long they'll have access to Standard Connectivity and its free navigation. A few years down the line, it could be a bit of a slap in the face to buy a used Model 3 or Model Y at a good price only to find out that you'll have to start paying for navigation after a year or two of ownership.
After BMW clarified its stance on subscription services in America, we were assured that the changes wouldn't dramatically impact customers right now. Likewise, Tesla's move won't affect its customers in the short term. In both cases, though, it seems like a small early step down a very deep rabbit role where consumers will soon be at the mercy of a bevy of subscription services for everyday features. We hope this isn't the case.