Tesla is bringing back the Enhanced Autopilot in the European and Chinese market, likely due to popular demand. Previously, the Enhanced Autopilot changed so frequently in both price and features that it got confusing and eventually got jettisoned in favor of the Full Self-Driving (FSD) feature.
FSD has since gone from $5,000 to $10,000 in price as features were added and its functionality improved with the accumulation of driving data from its beta testers. FSD relies on a centralized AI that “learns” from the driving data and images from cameras on Tesla vehicles. Tesla plans to improve the AI’s functionality still further with improvements on labeling of objects and the planned launch of a new supercomputer in late 2021.
The most recent version of the Enhanced Autopilot looks like a slightly pared-down and vastly cheaper version of the FSD. It seems geared toward assisting the driver while on the road rather than handling most of the driving duties. Its use will still require the driver to be alert while on the road.
Tesla’s goal is to have FSD fully capable of replacing the driver in most situations by the time it comes out of beta. Beta testers have indicated that it does make mistakes and could use more collision avoidance capabilities. It has failed to react when another driver was about to drift into their lane and possibly cause a “side-on” collision, for instance.
These safety issues are likely a major reason for the delays in bringing FSD out of beta. Tesla had originally planned a full roll-out by the end of 2020. Considering that Tesla has recently faced class-action lawsuits and vehicle recalls in the United States and China over flaws like a suspension issue, it may be playing it safe with the FSD lately.
Despite the issues, Elon Musk has indicated that he would be open to licensing FSD to other automakers once it gets out of beta and plans to add a subscription option as early as 2021. The subscription model is likely to be attractive to Tesla owners who don’t want to pay the upfront $10,000 price and don’t live in an area where Enhanced Autopilot is available.
The current Enhanced Autopilot features include Navigation on Autopilot, Auto Lane Change, Autopark, and Summon. In the European market, it will cost 3,800 Euros ($4,500), which means that European Tesla buyers could get most of the current features of FSD for less than half the cost.
Current Tesla owners have the option to upgrade to the Enhanced Autopilot if they wish. It may only be available for a limited time, considering that Tesla has discontinued it before.
However, it may have been due to the regulatory environment at the time. It has had to disable some Enhanced Autopilot features due to European regulations, which apparently have not kept up with improving driver assistance programs like the Enhanced Autopilot and FSD.
Tesla may have brought Enhanced Autopilot back because demand for Full Self-Driving was low in Europe, likely due to its high price tag. Musk indicated that the take rate was something like 1% to 2% in Europe, which is lower than other markets. FSD features include the same features as Enhanced Autopilot and adds Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control. It will also add Autosteer on city streets in the near future.