Tesla vehicles contain more fancy technology than anything else on the road today, which allows these electric cars to navigate the roads and find you in a parking lot. Although, you have to pay extra for Tesla’s full autonomous “Autopilot” features. If Tesla should ever suspect you haven’t paid for those features, the company is apparently happy to remotely nuke them. That’s what happened to one driver who bought a used Tesla late last year.
The buyer, identified in a Jalopnik report only as Alec, purchased a used 2017 Tesla Model S in December 2017. Alec got the car from a third-party dealer which itself had bought the car from Tesla at auction the previous month. Alec probably felt like he’d gotten a good deal at first because this vehicle (a 75D variant) came with the full “Enhanced” Autopilot suite. That adds about $8,000 to the purchase price when you buy from Tesla.
The car’s sticker listed the Autopilot features as included, so Alec was understandably confused when his car didn’t seem to have Autopilot navigation or Summon. When he contacted Tesla, Alec learned the company had remotely disabled those features after an audit found “Full-Self Driving was not a feature that [he] had paid for.”
It’s unclear why Tesla thought Alec wasn’t entitled to Enhanced Autopilot as the car had been configured and sold by Tesla with those features enabled. Yet, Tesla conducted its remote audit of the vehicle several days after it had sold it to the dealer. At that time, it disabled features on a car it did not own, leading Alec to purchase the Model S with the understanding he would get full self-driving. And of course, this situation only benefits Tesla. Alec cheekily asked if people buying used Teslas could opt to have features disabled to get a lower price. The rep said no.
This is an unusual situation for a car buyer to find themselves in, but it’s one that may only become more common. All modern Tesla vehicles are capable of enhanced Autopilot, but the car’s software determines whether you can use it. If Tesla ever decides to remove access, it can flip the switch remotely. Imagine if you bought a car advertised as all-wheel drive, but the manufacturer decided one day that you weren’t entitled to that feature. Suddenly, you’re only getting power to two wheels. This is the brave new world of connected cars.
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