Tesla has made a change to its level of free data connectivity that could potentially have a big impact on how its customers use their vehicles. The included standard connectivity package, which adds basic navigation functionality without live traffic displays or satellite maps and the ability to stream music via Bluetooth, will now expire after eight years (via Electrek).
Eight years is still a significant amount of time to have navigation and Bluetooth functionality included, but it’s only a watered down note for potential buyers. At a time when automakers are looking for more revenue streams in charge subscription fees to use the features already included (look at you, BMW), Tesla’s decision to impose a time limit on data usage certainly weakens the overall customer experience.
Other companies are a little more nuanced in the services they offer. For example, BMWs have maps that can be updated after three years for a fee, and BMW’s more premium navigation features (and automatic high beams) are locked behind a ConnectedDrive subscription that costs $50 per year. And if you want satellite maps in an Audi, you’ll be pay $84.99 per month for its premium MMI plus navigation service.
Tesla vehicles included lifetime premium data features like streaming music and movies, live security camera feedand surfing the Internet, but from June 30, 2018everything was locked behind a Premium Connectivity subscription of $10 per month (or $99 if paid annually).
So if you’re planning on buying and keeping a new Tesla for at least eight years, you’ll have to think about subscribing at some point, even for FM radio only. Alternative connectivity options are scarce since the automaker not only puts standard Bluetooth audio streaming behind the Standard Connectivity subscription, but also refuses to integrate smartphone-connected platforms like CarPlay and Android Auto. (However you could be creative and make the first one work.)
Realistically, you’ll probably want the Premium Connectivity Pack sooner rather than later on a car your uncle likes to repeatedly call a “computer on wheels.” And it’s a small price to pay as Teslas are apparently getting even more expensive all little month. I’d probably stick with the Full Self Driving subscription, though – maybe better off take a wait-and-see approach despite price increases.