Tesla has just performed a very sneaky move on a new Tesla Model S electric car owner, where the company remotely disabled the Autopilot function of the vehicle after the new owner purchased the Model S at an auction held by Tesla.
Tesla has said that the new owner "did not pay" for these features, so they are not allowed to use them... unless they pay, of course -- and a hefty $8000, too. The Model S in question was traded into a dealership with Autopilot enabled from its previous owner, sold to the new owner with all of the bells and whistles, but then Tesla remotely disabled the Autopilot feature.
For other hardware-based upgrades like the 4WD and all-wheel drive options, or even the adaptive cruise control, they stay with the vehicle no matter what. But Tesla can remotely disable software-based functions like the self-driving Autopilot feature, where owner 'Alec' is now frustrated. Alex purchased the car with both the Enhanced Autopilot and Full Self Driving Mode features enabled, with Jalopnik reporting that they've reviewed the documents from the car dealership itself.
Alec purchased the car in December 2019 with these features enabled, with the car dealership listing the Model S with both of the features. But, what the dealer didn't know is that Tesla "independently conducted" a software "audit" of the Model S post-sale, and disabled the features in its December update.
The car was picked up on December 20, with its nifty Enhanced Autopilot and Full Self Driving Mode features completely disabled by Tesla remotely.
Alec reached out to Tesla customer support, which responded with: "Tesla has recent identified instances of customers being incorrectly configured for Autopilot versions that they did not pay for. Since, there was an audit done to correct these instances. Your vehicle is one of the vehicles that was incorrectly configured for Autopilot. We looked back at your purchase history and unfortunately Full-Self Driving was not a feature that you had paid for. We apologize for the confusion. If you are still interested in having those additional features we can begin the process to purchase the upgrade".
But now if Alec wants those features remotely activated again, he'll have to cough up $8000 -- but the problem is he paid for the car and those features enabled, he shouldn't have to pay Tesla to enable them.
What this story illustrates is the new issues we'll run into with second hand car sales on cars with software-based features that can be enabled and disabled by the manufacturer. Tesla shouldn't be disabling these features if they're paid for, it's not some kind of limited time feature -- it's a damn $8000 upgrade that they're trying to profit on, twice.