🚗 Goodbye $10,000 purchase! Full Self-Driving is now available to Tesla owners through a monthly subscription
Musk Reads #256
Tesla creates a new subscription service; SpaceX fans FAA’s flames; and Musk debuts a third drone ship. It’s the free edition of Musk Reads #256 — subscribe now to receive two more editions later this week!
Last week, Musk Reads+ subscribers heard from Margaret Weitekamp, curator at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, about why Blue Origin’s upcoming flight with Wally Funk will break records. This week, subscribers will hear from Maana Electric about their plans to bring solar panels to future Moon settlements.
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Musk quote of the week
“I don’t care [if Cybertruck fails]. I love it so much even if others don’t.” — Elon Musk tweeted July 15, telling a Cybertruck fan that its unique design (“like it was made by aliens from the future”) could keep it from selling well. So far, sales haven’t been a problem for Tesla.
Tesla: Subscribe to Full-Self Drive
Those of you longing for the moment an autonomous Tesla rolls up and honors your driveway will be pleased to hear that moment has maybe come a bit closer to you. Tesla has just made their Full Self-Driving (FSD) software, which was originally only available as a $10,000 one-time purchase, into a subscription service for anyone whose Tesla “has FSD [Hardware 3.0] or above, plus Basic [...] or Enhanced Autopilot.”
The subscription will cost $199 per month for users upgrading their Basic Autopilot to FSD and $99 per month for users upgrading Enhanced Autopilot. Owners should be aware that available FSD features depend on location, and if your vehicle does not have Hardware 3, you will be required to make the $1,500 upgrade. Also, just as a reminder, despite what the name implies, FSD requires “a fully attentive driver who has their hands on the wheel,” as per the Tesla website.
Since the subscription service will allow users to cancel at any time (while still receiving FSD for the full month they canceled in), it could be a great option for Tesla owners curious about driving with FSD but nervous about making a $10,000 commitment.
Some owners, though, are feeling deceived. A July 18 article in Electrek has pointed out that in 2016 Tesla announced that cars made October 2016 through mid-2019 needed “no further hardware upgrades” for FSD capabilities. By late 2019, Tesla walked that statement back, revamping their hardware with version 3.0 and offering free upgrades to anyone who didn’t already have it.
Now, they’re charging interested users $1,500 for it, some of whom bought their car between 2016 and 2019 thinking it was already capable of FSD. Did Tesla mislead loyal customers or is the new price point justified? We want to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
SpaceX: FAA run-ins threaten Starbase
All eyes are on SpaceX ahead of their Booster 3 static fire, a sort of rocket checkup where engines blast while the rest of the ship stays still. This test, which Musk says will happen today, is a key component of verifying Starship’s structural integrity ahead of its potentially groundbreaking orbital flight.
But earthly hurdles still plague SpaceX, which continues to play with fire, also known as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Two months ago, the FAA sent SpaceX a letter indicating their orbital launch tower was not government approved. It was a good try, but SpaceX is still building it.
If left to brew into a worst-case scenario, the launch tower could be torn down. Read more.
But a little looming threat won’t slow down the crew on SpaceX’s upcoming all-civilian Inspiration4 mission, who had a particularly euphoric training week. On July 12, the team experienced zero gravity for the first time, floating happily inside the modified Boeing 727 where the zero-g training took place.
Thankfully, the Inspiration4 flight will not rely on the contested launch tower. Instead, the mission’s reused Falcon 9 will take off from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A, the same pad that waved Crew-2 Dragon goodbye earlier this year.
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In other Musk news…
Elon Musk unveils SpaceX's newest drone ship for rocket landings at sea.
An affiliate of Elon Musk's tunneling company buys land in Texas.
T-minus the internet
A ranked list of everything Musk-related and online, handpicked weekly with bionic precision.
10. You can now visit a virtual Gigafactory in a virtual Tesla Semi thanks to a new collaboration between Tesla and popular battle royale game PUBG Mobile. Watch now.
9. The deodorant brand Axe has been teasing a new scent, which will be released tomorrow, July 20. It smells like… Dogecoin? Crypto mines? The unmistakable stink of a dead meme? Dogecan, the deodorant we deserve.
8. At least one person will not be buying Dogecan — Dogecoin co-creator Jackson Palmer identifies crypto as a “right-wing, hyper-capitalist technology” in a Twitter thread explaining why he is uninterested in reentering the field. He mentions being at odds with crypto politically and finds it dominated by “bought influencers and pay-for-play media outlets.” I wonder where he got that idea. Read more.
7. The first Tesla supercharger ever built, which is located outside SpaceX’s Hawthorne, California, headquarters, closed permanently today. Read more.
6. Dutch company Squad Mobility has unveiled the Squad Solar City Car, a 6.5-foot-long, solar-powered electric car. The car can be parked “like a scooter,” charge itself to just over 12 miles, and costs just around $7,000 for buyers outside the EU. That’s an expensive scooter!
5. Last Friday, Reddit user u/VanillaGorilla posted a Wizard of Oz-esque video in r/teslamotors when his Tesla Model X not only survived the eye of a tornado but filmed the entire dusty, destructive event. Surrender, Tesla.
4. Starlink, which Musk says should be available globally by August, could be a game-changer for the most isolated areas in Cherokee Nation, giving Tribe members valuable connection to each other and online services like telehealth. Read more.
3. A California research group developed a brain implant that helps one man, who suffered a stroke over 15 years ago, speak. Read more.
2. NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover might have found little burping aliens. Emphasis on “might have”.
1. And a piece of Musk history: The Hustle writer Trung Phan wrote a Twitter thread going deep on Blue Origin’s and SpaceX’s bygone days. The story begins with a meal Bezos and Musk shared in 2004, which led to some ignored advice, which then led to the pair’s contentious race to becoming our #1 Space Billionaire. Fly back in time.
The ultra-fine print
This has been Musk Reads #256, the weekly rundown of essential reading about futurist and entrepreneur Elon Musk. I’m Ashley Bardhan, assistant to Musk Reads. I’ll be taking over the Monday newsletter for the summer.
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There was never a free upgrade. I have a late 2018 Model S and a free upgrade was never offered.