Tesla only started making cars a few years ago, so it had the luxury of designing its features around a connected experience. All Tesla vehicles have LTE built-in, but the online features are about to get a price hike. Tesla has informed many drivers that their free LTE connectivity features will cost them $10 per month going forward.
This change has been a long time coming, ever since Tesla launched the original Model S with free LTE in 2012. By 2014, questions about the viability of free LTE prompted Tesla to clarify that it would keep the service free for at least four years. CEO Elon Musk has been saying that LTE on Tesla vehicles would cost around $100 per year when the service went paid, and that’s what’s happening now. The company also started to show data usage in the car’s software earlier this year.
The Premium Connectivity package in Tesla vehicles will cost $10 per month starting next month. The company hasn’t announced any discounts for yearly subscriptions, so we’re looking at $120 per year for LTE in Teslas. According to Tesla’s email notifications, drivers who got their cars before July 1st, 2018 will continue to have access to premium LTE. Everyone else is now on a 30-day free trial and will have to start paying at the end.
The premium LTE service powers all the “non-essential” data features in the car. For example, satellite maps, live traffic updates, and media streaming. Anyone who chooses not to pay Tesla’s subscription price will have to settle for Standard Connectivity. That includes basic maps and navigation, music streaming over Bluetooth, and important vehicle updates over cellular. You can still use the integrated media streaming and web browsing functionality if the car is connected to Wi-Fi. So, you can potentially retain most of the same features by flipping on your phone’s Wi-Fi hotspot whenever you hop in the car.
These are not inexpensive vehicles, so anyone who bought a Tesla can probably afford to drop another $10 per month for access to premium LTE features. Still, with the loss of tax subsidies, limits on free supercharging, and an increasing number of competing electric vehicles, Tesla doesn’t offer the same value proposition it once did. Musk once famously said Tesla would run out of money if it didn’t make some changes to the business model. This might be a necessary step.
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