Buyers who order a new Tesla Model S, Model 3, Model X or Model Y this week will no longer receive free standard connectivity for the life of their vehicle, as the automaker changed its connectivity policy. According to Tesla’s website, new orders will now only be offered with the standard connectivity package for eight years, which requires owners to purchase Tesla’s premium connectivity tier to continue using features such as maps, navigation, voice commands and more.
Teslarati found a change in the “Connectivity” section of Tesla’s support page that places an expiration date on the Lifetime Standard Connectivity feature: “All new Tesla vehicles ordered on or before July 20, 2022 will have Standard Connectivity for free for the life of the vehicle. Connectivity features …… As more features and services become available in the future, you will have the opportunity to upgrade your connectivity plan.”
Elsewhere on the same page, Tesla clarifies the new eight-year limit that comes with a newly purchased vehicle and states, “Standard connectivity is available on all Tesla vehicles. Standard connectivity will be available in your vehicle at no additional cost for eight years from the first day your vehicle is delivered by Tesla as a new vehicle or the first day it is placed in service, whichever comes first. If you are purchasing a used vehicle, you will be told how long your vehicle will include standard connectivity features.”
Tesla’s support page doesn’t specify a subscription price for standard connectivity after the initial eight years, though, likely because it doesn’t plan to offer it. Instead, the automaker may be trying to entice users to upgrade to its premium connectivity service. Currently, this premium service costs $9.99 a month (or $99 a year) and includes navigation, real-time traffic, satellite maps and the automaker’s Sentry Mode camera monitoring and other data-intensive connected entertainment features such as video, music and karaoke streaming and Web browsing for vehicles that support it.
The standard connectivity package includes only the basic apps and navigation software and limits the more advanced cloud features to Wi-Fi connectivity. If Tesla needs a subscription anyway then the premium version is more valuable than the bare-bones standard package.
Apparently, Tesla’s requirement that customers pay recurring fees for basic navigation features – which were free until last month – feels a bit gratuitous, but I get it. Cellular data isn’t free, and users are paying for ongoing service and getting something in return, which makes this less shocking than, say, locking in heated seats after a subscription. In addition, eight years is the average length of car ownership, so many owners may never feel the sting. (Used car buyers, on the other hand, will almost certainly feel it).
Yet it’s still a shame, especially given the lack of third-party navigation options for Tesla’s infotainment system, such as widely supported Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity, which essentially locks buyers into that subscription if they want to move to navigation after the initial eight-year grace period.
This isn’t the first time Tesla has reduced the level of connectivity in its vehicles. The automaker previously offered lifetime premium connectivity on the Tesla Model S, X and certain configurations of the 3 before introducing standard connectivity and requiring all vehicles sold on or after July 1, 2018, to subscribe to the highest level of connectivity.