Tesla – which could be in SA this year – just made Autopilot a standard feature on all its vehicles
- Tesla announced sweeping changes to its Model 3 lineup on Thursday night.
- It also announced that its semi-autonomous Autopilot will now be a standard feature on every vehicle it makes.
- Tesla dealerships could open in South Africa this year.
Electric vehicle company Tesla on Thursday announced that Autopilot, its semi-autonomous-driving technology that used to cost around R40,000 extra, will now be a standard feature across all its cars.
"For example, Model 3 Standard Plus used to cost $37,500 [R525,000], plus $3,000 [R42,000] for the Autopilot option. It now costs $39,500 [R553,000], with Autopilot included," Tesla said in a press release Thursday night.
See also: A new car brand says it could be selling 'affordable' (if weird-looking) electric cars, motorbikes, and 1-ton trucks in SA next year
Tesla also highlighted what it says is positive customer feedback about the technology.
Autopilot as a standard feature is not as robust as the optional full self-driving capability, which Tesla offers as a R70,000 option.
With standard Autopilot, a Tesla vehicle can steer within its own lane in traffic, and accelerate and brake on its own. The full self-driving capability adds "Navigate on Autopilot," which gives Teslas the ability to enter and exit freeways and merge onto freeway interchanges, and also drive around slower vehicles.
The self-driving option includes automatic lane changes, auto-park, and the summon feature.
Leasing options and Tesla ride-hailing
As of Thursday, the Tesla Model 3 is also available for lease in the US but, unlike a typical vehicle lease, customers will not have the option to purchase their cars at the end of the contract. That's because Tesla plans to have those off-lease Model 3s join its self-driving ride-hailing fleet.
In 2016, Tesla made known its intention to operate such a fleet, but did not mention at the time that previously leased Model 3s would be used for the program.
Notably, those new details about the ride-hailing service come just hours after Uber filed for its initial public offering. Uber is developing its own fleet of self-driving vehicles. Lyft, Uber's closest competitor that went public in late March, is doing the same.
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