Tesla ‘Full Self-Driving’ free trial announced for the US, but Elon Musk’s bigger plans hit “roadblocks” - SUV VEHICLE

Tesla ‘Full Self-Driving’ free trial announced for the US, but Elon Musk’s bigger plans hit “roadblocks”


Elon Musk says all compatible Tesla vehicles in the US will be granted a one-month free trial to the so-called ‘Full Self-Driving’ software – but a broader plan to give new customers a demo in their own car has been met with concerns.

All compatible Tesla vehicles in the US will soon be offered with a one-month free trial of the company’s controversial, so-called ‘Full Self-Driving’ software, company boss Elon Musk has announced.

However plans by the outspoken executive for all Tesla US customers to be taken on a ‘test ride’ with Full Self-Driving software in their new car before taking delivery have been labelled impractical by experts.

A company-wide email sent by Musk at 2:00am California time on Tuesday morning – leaked and posted to X (formerly Twitter) ­– demanded Tesla delivery staff in the US must now “take customers on a short [FSD] test ride” before handing over their new vehicle.

Tesla’s most advanced semi-autonomous system was made available in beta form in 2021 – now in version 12.3 – and has been installed in more than 400,000 cars in the US and Canada, Drive has previously reported.

However – as highlighted byTeslascope, an X user with sources inside the company – concerns have been raised with the feasibility of Musk’s plans for Full Self-Driving (FSD) test rides.

According to Teslascope, for the first three to eight weeks after delivery Tesla vehicles reportedly run on software dubbed “factory builds”, which allow the electric-car giant to gather data on the systems of newly-built vehicles, and any components they use that may have been introduced recently to the production line.

The X user reports the factory builds would need to be loaded with the latest 12.3.1 version of FSD – rather than 11.4.9 as they were shipped with previously – however this is now believed to be underway.

Tesla US vehicle owners who have installed the new ‘V12’ variant of the so-called Full Self-Driving software claim it is smoother and less prone to errors, or a need for the human behind the wheel to intervene.

Teslascope reports the cameras in Tesla vehicles require up to 160km of driving for “calibration” before owners can activate the Autopilot and FSD functions – which could be challenging if Musk intends for staff to take new customers for a test ride to demonstrate this technology.

However, the user claims the electric auto giant has been working on a “prototype solution” that will reportedly grant users access to the semi-autonomous software without the need to drive a certain distance.

Tesla has not officially announced what the “solution” is or when it is due.

Tesla’s ‘Full Self-Driving’ software is available for Australians to purchase at a $10,100 cost – with the promise local owners will eventually be given access to its functions through a software update once a finalised version suitable for Australian roads is available.

The system adds onto the capabilities of the basic and Enhanced Autopilot features – which include adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, automatic lane change and parking – with the software said to be capable of identifying and stopping for traffic signs and lights, and enabling limited semi-autonomous driving in residential areas.

However, Tesla’s semi-autonomous features have come under fire from US regulators due to fatalities and crashes associated with various levels of the company’s technology.

According to previous Drive reports, the US-based company’s self-driving systems have previously been linked to 11 deaths in 11 months – and accounted for 80 per cent of car crashes in the US involving semi-autonomous driving software.

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Ethan Cardinal

Ethan Cardinal graduated with a Journalism degree in 2020 from La Trobe University and has been working in the fashion industry as a freelance writer prior to joining Drive in 2023. Ethan greatly enjoys investigating and reporting on the cross sections between automotive, lifestyle and culture. Ethan relishes the opportunity to explore how deep cars are intertwined within different industries and how they could affect both casual readers and car enthusiasts.

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