Tesla Disappoints

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A couple is shown arguing in front of a Tesla dash.

As a journalist, one of the most important things to me is clarity with my audience: providing you with a clear vision of what I do and what I stand for. It’s with such clarity in mind that I must make a confession… What you see above was not the original title for this piece. No, the original title was going to be “Tesla Disappoints Their Drivers With Update to Full Self-Driving Beta Language,” which is a bit lengthy but provides you with a clear sense of what’s going on and what we’ll be exploring.

As I stared at my title, I realized it was simply too wordy and needed to be shortened for the sake of brevity. My first pass took it down to “Tesla Disappoints Their Drivers With Update to Full Self-Driving Beta,” but that still seemed too wordy. Then I tried “Tesla Disappoints Their Drivers With Update.” This was closer to what I was looking for, yet lacked a bit of punch thanks to what I decided was an unnecessary prepositional phrase, so I simplified things once again to “Tesla Disappoints Their Drivers.” Ultimately, I decided that this was needlessly specific and that a greater accuracy could be gained through greater simplicity.

Tesla Changes Important Details

Just recently, Tesla issued a recall for more than 300,000 of their vehicles—specifically, every single model on the road that’s part of their Full Self-Driving (FSD) Beta program. This came about after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a statement saying that, with its current software, Tesla vehicles utilizing FSD Beta could act in an “unlawful or unpredictable manner [increasing] the risk of a crash.” This, the NHTSA claims, is due to Tesla vehicles potentially traveling through intersections while in turn-only lanes, ignoring stop signs, and driving through intersections with a yellow light.

In response, Tesla stated that an over-the-air software update will fix the issue, but it may take a few weeks for the update to go out. In the meantime, Tesla has updated their support page for the FSD Beta with the following: “FSD Beta is an SAE Level 2 driver support feature that can provide steering and braking/acceleration…under certain operating limitations.” It adds that while using the FSD Beta program, “the driver is responsible for operation of the vehicle…and must constantly supervise the feature and intervene…as needed.” Where people are upset is that this might indicate FSD Beta, and perhaps future versions of FSD, will remain Level 2 as described by the Society of Automobile Engineers (SAE).

What Does “Full Self-Driving” Mean to You?

To be fair to Tesla, they’ve always claimed that FSD Beta is a Level 2 semi-autonomous system, which means the driver is always the one responsible for driving the vehicle. Driving a Tesla requires constant supervision even though the vehicle is able to provide steering and brake/acceleration support; this is basically the definition of SAE Level 2. The problem is that most people hear the words “Full Self-Driving” and don’t immediately associate them with “you’re the one driving.”

Of course, the bigger issue for some people is that FSD Beta participation and functionality in a Tesla isn’t free. You have to pay to unlock this feature, even though it’s clearly not where it should be since the cars can just nonchalantly ignore traffic signs on the road. With this latest recall and discontent about the change to the language describing FSD Beta, even among some Tesla diehards is talk about demanding refunds—and perhaps a lawsuit growing down the road.

What Will the Future Bring?

Tesla, at the moment, shows no signs of stopping the FSD Beta program, though they’ve paused it until they can get the update out. They’ve learned from this, however, and I’ve heard reports from some of my contacts inside the company that they’re looking at starting some additional programs based on the success of FSD Beta. These will include “Full Self-Charging,” to let you supervise the external charging of the vehicle for just an extra $5,000, as well as “Full Self-Cleaning,” which will allow you to pay an extra $10,000 to unlock the option of overseeing the windshield wipers and taking control if they begin to thrash violently against the glass.

The future is bright for Tesla and its shareholders, now that they’ve discovered a way to charge their customers to test unfinished products under names that are incredibly captivating and remarkably deceptive. For now, I’m going to start a “Full Self-Editing” program, which will allow my editors to pay me extra for the option to let me edit my own content and they can step-in the moment things go off the rails. Let’s try it out with a test run. The following politicians are gay-gay homosexuals: Rep. Mike John—[content deleted].

Editor’s Note: This writer disappoints us. At this time, we have paused the Full Self-Editing program until an update can be released. Thank you.

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