Tesla abruptly deactivated the Autopilot option on a Model S that had just been purchased second-hand.
The seller had offered the vehicle with the Enhanced Autopilot and Fully Autonomous Driving options, but after conducting an independent audit,
Tesla disabled both options remotely on the grounds that they did not appear in the new owner’s purchase history.
Tesla has for some time allowed its customers to purchase options for their vehicles through the Android / iOS application. Options that give new features to the vehicle such as enhanced Autopilot or fully autonomous driving.
Once the customer pays for the option(s) (they each cost several thousand euros), Tesla updates the vehicle remotely. And the driver can then benefit from this almost immediately.
But, according to the story Jalopnik tells, Tesla can sometimes remove these options as well. Especially in the case of second-hand resale.
For example, an American dealer bought a Model S with the improved Autopilot and fully autonomous driving at an auction and then resold it to a new owner.
The problem is that in the meantime Tesla decided to carry out an audit which concluded that the vehicle should not have the two options mentioned above.
Shortly after the sale, the new owner updates the vehicle and then finds that the options have disappeared.
He contacted Tesla and received the following response: “Tesla has recently identified instances of customers who have been incorrectly configured with versions of Autopilot for which they have not paid. An audit has since been conducted to correct these instances. Your vehicle is one of those that were incorrectly configured for Autopilot. We have reviewed your purchase history and unfortunately fully autonomous driving is not one of the options you purchased. We apologize for the confusion” the firm explains.
If you are still interested in these additional features, we can begin the purchase process for these upgrades. The problem is that the dealer’s invoice lists both options in black and white. And to buy them back it would cost $8,000.
Ironically, the unfortunate owner, Alec, then contacted a Tesla dealership claiming he was going to buy a used car. When choosing a vehicle, he asked the dealership to remove the fully autonomous driving option “to save money”. Answer: “if it’s added and it’s a used car [Tesla] won’t remove it“.
The story certainly raises many questions about the true nature of these software updates: are they really irrevocable features that are part of the vehicle or is this a form of right of use that Tesla can withdraw at any time?