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Tesla Adds Subscription Fees for Navigation, Connectivity

A Tesla Model 3 drives on a wet road. We see the car from a rear quarter angle, facing to our left and driving away from us. It is medium blue and kicking up water from its tires.If you ordered a new Tesla before July 20, you’ll never have to pay for turn-by-turn directions or the other services that Tesla bundles under its “standard connectivity” package.

If you ordered one after July 20, you’ll start getting a bill in eight years.

Tesla Offers Two Packages

Tesla offers two tiers of connectivity in all its cars. The standard package includes navigation but uses a somewhat out-of-date navigation technology that doesn’t include live traffic information. It also lets you connect a phone for music streaming over Bluetooth. In the past, it has been free for the car’s lifetime.

Now, it will be free for the first eight years. Tesla hasn’t said what the fee in year nine would be.

An upgraded “premium connectivity” package adds features more like what most automakers have to offer, and plenty they don’t. It includes in-car Wi-Fi, navigation with live traffic updates, and access to the monthly downloads Tesla pushes out with fun in-car entertainment like karaoke and games on the car’s central touchscreen. Premium connectivity costs $9.99 per month or an annual fee of $99.

No Way to Use Your Phone

Premium connectivity is the only way to get many of these services in a Tesla.

Many of us get our navigation with live traffic, music streaming, and similar in-car entertainment features by connecting our phones to our cars. There’s no need to pay for a premium navigation service or music streaming in the car when your phone can provide both.

Most cars on the market for the 2022 and 2023 model years make this easy by including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, or both.

But Tesla doesn’t offer either one.

So premium connectivity has a lot to offer, but you’re captive to it. It’s the only way to get some features common to other cars.

Tesla doesn’t operate a public relations department or answer reporters’ questions. We’re aware of this change only because Teslarati spotted it on a support page on the Tesla website.

The page adds an important note – the 8-year period starts on the first day a new Tesla is delivered or the first day it went into service if it was used as a demonstrator. It also conveys with used cars. So, if you buy a used one less than eight years old, you’ll get the remainder of the free period.

Part of an Unpopular Trend

Tesla is not alone in moving to subscription services. Other automakers have publicly experimented with charging monthly fees for common car features. BMW recently kicked off social media outrage with a program to charge monthly for heated seats and similar features in some markets.

Tesla’s move may seem less extreme – we’re all used to paying monthly fees for data in our homes and on the devices in our pockets. But it fits within a larger trend – we may all end up paying to use parts of our cars long after we buy them.

Our research shows that car shoppers do not want this future.

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