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Tesla owner confirms remotely disabled autopilot features have been restored

February 14, 2020 / Sujata Bondge
SHARESHARESHARE

  • Tesla restored the Autopilot and Full-self driving features of a Tesla car model S just days after Jalopnik released a tale regarding the customer's challenge.

  • The customer bought the car model in December 2020 and just after 3 days, Tesla conducted an audit and removed software features without customers' notice.

  • The car owner now confirms that the features are back and Tesla cited the issue as a miscommunication.


Tesla defied the traditional dealership method of selling cars. While buyers may appreciate that, they mightn’t appreciate the other way Tesla appears to be eschewing convention.
 

The company has restored the Autopilot driver assistance features it remotely disabled on a used Model S, just days after Jalopnik published a story about the customer’s ordeal.
 

The owner, who Jalopnik simply referred to as Alec, confirmed that the features are back after spotted new Tesla Motors Club forum posts he wrote earlier this week.
 

“I was contacted by a Tesla customer experience representative apologizing for my troubles. Now they have restored all missed options and cited a miscommunication and not intentional as the reason why the company pulled the autopilot features in the first place.”

-Alec, a Tesla customer


 

 

Customer’s case on Autopilot and FSD Feature Removal


Alec (Last name not revealed for privacy reasons) bought a 2017 Tesla Model S on December 20 of last year, from a third-party dealer who bought the car directly from Tesla via auction on November 15, 2019. The car was sold at auction as a result of a California Lemon Law buyback, as the car suffered from a well-known issue where the center-stack screen developed a noticeable yellow border.
 

 

When the dealer bought the car at auction from Tesla on November 15, it was optioned with both Enhanced Autopilot and Tesla’s confusingly-named Full Self Driving Capability; together, these options totaled $8,000.
 

Tesla officially sold the car to the dealership on November 15. On November 18, Tesla seems to have conducted an “audit” of the car remotely. The result of that audit was that when the car’s software was updated to the latest version in December, the Enhanced Autopilot and Full Self Driving Capability (FSD) were removed from the car.
 

Learn more: Tesla becomes the first US carmaker to cross $100 billion valuation
 

The disclosure statement from Tesla to the dealership at the time of the sale did not mention anything about Autopilot or FSD removal. Then the dealer posted the car for sale with both Enhanced Autopilot and Full Self-Driving featured on the car’s Monroney sticker — meaning Alec paid for a car with those features. When he realized the features are not available for which he paid for, he asked Tesla customer support about this, Tesla’s customer support responded with a cause doing so.
 

 

“Tesla has recently 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.”

-Customer support, Tesla

 


According to Alec Autopilot and FSD are software features, but they act like any physical feature of a car. No one pay a subscription for it. It is one-time fee, just like an electromechanical cruise control system on any other car.
 

Tesla has removed features from used cars in the past, but typically does so before the car is sold off to a third-party dealer or a new owner. Since Tesla pulled these features both after it sold the car to the dealer, and after that dealer sold it to Alec, it caused some fear that the company was setting a precedent for yanking features on a whim.
 

Learn more: Tesla dismisses claims of autopilot called as inherently misleading
 

That now seems less likely to be true, although owners and potential customers should always be prepared to deal with changes. Tesla is pushing the boundaries when it comes to adding new features and generally making cars upgradeable via over-the-air software updates, and other automakers are (slowly) following suit. But the easier it gets for automakers to remotely update or change the features of a car, the easier it gets to take those features away, too.
 

Exactly what Tesla’s policy is here is hard to say, though. The automaker did not respond to multiple requests for clarification or comment.