Full Self-Driving “Monthly Rental” Coming Next Year: The Implications for Tesla Owners

Oct 25, 2020   

As Elon Musk shared the news that a “FSD monthly rental” will be available next year on Twitter, we break down the implications of a Full Self-Driving rental and what that means for Tesla owners.

The verbiage of a “FSD monthly rental” seems to have a slightly different meaning than a subscription. A subscription implies that an owner could choose to continuously subscribe to Full Self-Driving for an indefinite period of time, whereas a monthly rental implies that it’s intended to be used for shorter periods and perhaps on the odd occasion that an owner could benefit from the features of Full Self-Driving. A “monthly rental” also sounds like it would command a higher price tag, and that Tesla is still going to push for owners to purchase the feature outright.

Musk additionally shared that the price change for Full Self-Driving will be moved to Thursday, at which point the price of Full Self-Driving as a one-time option is expected to increase to $10,000. This change will take effect internationally as the Beta is rolled out to other countries.

At that rate, a monthly rental could very well cost $199/month or more. $10,000 financed over 72 months at 3% interest is $152/month, and the price of Full Self-Driving is expected to continue increasing over time.

Tesla will undoubtedly make it a better deal to purchase/finance Full Self-Driving rather than rent it; however, even if a Full Self-Driving “monthly rental” ends up costing $299-$399/month then it could still be a potentially good deal for a Tesla owner that may only need to use it for a handful of months throughout their ownership. (Such as for a particularly lengthy road trip.)

Another consideration is that the Full Self-Driving Beta may not be up to the standards necessary for it to be truly useful. It required numerous interventions in the videos posted by owners that we have reviewed. Full Self-Driving on a meaningful level 5 scale is likely still years away, and at that point Tesla owners may have moved on from their current vehicle.

Full Self-Driving Capability purchased as an option is linked to a Tesla rather than a Tesla account, meaning that it follows the vehicle and not the owner in the case of a sale. This can have its benefits, assuming that Tesla continues releasing features and increasing the value of Full Self-Driving. It also means that buyers will have to re-purchase it on subsequent Tesla’s, regardless of whether the feature set is completed. A monthly rental is a way around having to deal with Full Self-Driving not being linked to a Tesla account, especially for owners who are skeptical of Elon’s notoriously optimistic timelines.

The fact that Elon thinks Tesla will be able to introduce a monthly rental for FSD next year implies that Full Self-Driving will be further along, and that we may see features that enable autonomous driving on city streets move out of beta at that point. Tesla still has a long road ahead of them in introducing a monthly rental, but it could be a cost-effective way to occasionally try Full Self-Driving without committing to adding it to a specific Tesla.

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