Tesla gives owners a free 30-day trial of Enhanced Autopilot for the holidays

Tesla owners are starting to receive messages on their cars offering a free 30-day trial of Enhanced Autopilot, with the message “Happy Holidays!” from Tesla.

The messages started showing up on social media, posted by owners in Australia and New Zealand. Notably, this started happening when it was early enough for people to be awake in those countries, but while it was late night or very early morning in the US and EU.

So we don’t know yet if this is a global giveaway or only in the Oceania region, but we suspect we’ll find out soon enough as the rest of the world wakes up and goes for a drive. We see no reason that it would be restricted to AU/NZ, so perhaps it just needs to propagate to the rest of the world as the day moves on.

The message reads “Happy Holidays! A complimentary trial of Enhanced Autopilot has been enabled for you to enjoy for 30 days.” It then describes to drivers how to enable various Autopilot features, which must be done while the vehicle is parked before the first time each individual driver profile attempts to use the system.

All Teslas come equipped with Autopilot, Tesla’s brand name for its driver-assist technology. Basic Autopilot includes traffic-aware cruise control, which follows the car in front of you, and autosteer, which keeps the car in its lane on highways.

Enhanced Autopilot is an additional package that adds more capabilities. Tesla has offered it as a separate package on and off over the years, and brought it back in June with its current price point of $6,000 (or $5,100 AUD/$5,700 NZD, in the countries we’ve seen this giveaway in so far).

Enhanced Autopilot includes these features, over and above Basic Autopilot:

  • Auto Lane Change: Assists in moving to an adjacent lane on the motorway when indicator is engaged by driver.
  • Navigate on Autopilot (Beta): Actively augments Auto Lane Change by providing guidance to the driver to transit motorway’s on-ramp to off-ramp, including suggesting lane changes and navigating interchanges.
  • Autopark: Helps parallel or perpendicular park your car, with a single touch.
  • Summon: Moves your car in and out of a tight space using the mobile app.
  • Smart Summon: Your car will navigate more complex environments and parking spaces, maneuvering around objects as necessary to come find you in a car park within your direct vicinity.

Then, beyond Enhanced Autopilot is Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving Capability,” which includes the above functions and also will start and stop the car for traffic lights and stop signs, and allows entry into Tesla’s “FSD Beta,” which comes with Autosteer on city streets.

All of these features still require active participation from a driver, and are considered “Level 2” autonomous driving systems, where the driver is primarily responsible for monitoring the driving environment. Thus, they are not “full self-driving” yet, though Tesla has repeatedly claimed that cars with FSD will eventually be able to drive themselves without driver intervention.

Tesla does have a way for owners to “try out” FSD by purchasing an FSD subscription for $199/month (assuming you have HW3.0; otherwise Tesla will charge you $1,000 for hardware you already bought, but you might be able to get that money back in small claims court). There is no similar subscription for Enhanced Autopilot, only the one-time purchase option.

But this trial comes at a somewhat awkward time. Currently, new Tesla owners are receiving cars without ultrasonic sensors, after Tesla abruptly removed them from new vehicles in October, saying they were redundant to Tesla’s all-vision sensing system.

As a result, Autopark, Summon, and Smart Summon are all disabled on these new vehicles until Tesla upgrades their software to use vision sensors instead of the previous ultrasonics. This means that new cars won’t get to use three out of the five Enhanced Autopilot features during this trial period, unless Tesla pushes a vision update within the next 30 days.

Electrek’s Take

Since there is no other way to “try out” Enhanced Autopilot for most customers, this seems like an excellent way to show people what the system can – or can’t – do. Many owners are curious about whether the additional features would be worthwhile, but not a lot of people can toss several thousand dollars at something they don’t know will be worth it for them.

This will let those owners have a chance to try out the system for a pretty significant period of time – not just a couple days, but a whole month.

Top comment by dm33

Liked by 20 people

Some of this, such as parking, doesn't work on new MY where they removed the ultrasonic sensors.

Bad timing just makes people realize what Tesla dropped from their new cars to save $144.

View all comments

It doesn’t cost Tesla anything to activate this, and it might drive a few conversions if owners are happy with the system’s capabilities.

Personally, I don’t think EAP is worth the thousands of dollars being charged for it, at least not for me:

  • Navigate on Autopilot is nice, but the main benefit it has is telling you which lanes to be in for highway interchanges, and possibly making those lane changes for you with auto lane change (though you still have to confirm the changes with the turn signal stalk).
  • Autopark works really well, even in weird parking spots, and may be useful for people who are bad at or afraid of parallel parking.
  • Summon is mostly a neat gimmick, but can be useful if you need to adjust your car in a parking spot and don’t want to get up and go to the car to do it. I’ve used it for this several times, which has been convenient in a pinch, in the right circumstances, and does impress people.
  • And smart summon… well, I’ve never used it, because it has never worked in a situation where I’ve wanted to use it, but everything I’ve heard doesn’t make it sound all that smart (even CEO Elon Musk acknowledges that it hasn’t ever been very smart).

They’re interesting capabilities for a car to have, but I’d rather keep the thousands of dollars myself. That said, the same may not be true for every other owner – and now everyone will have a chance to find out if it seems worth it to them or not.

Let us know in the comments below if you’ve gotten this message this morning and where you are in the world. We’re curious if this is a worldwide giveaway or only limited to AU/NZ.

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Avatar for Jameson Dow Jameson Dow

Jameson has been driving electric vehicles since 2009, and has been writing about them and about clean energy for electrek.co since 2016.

You can contact him at jamie@electrek.co