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Tesla starts free over-the-air Autopilot trials to boost usage and sales of the system

Tesla started an email campaign to inform owners of Autopilot 2.0 cars who didn’t buy any Autopilot package that they will have access to a free over-the-air Autopilot trial.

The move to boost usage and sales of the system comes just as Tesla is expected to release an important Autopilot software update.

Back in 2016, Tesla started pushing Autopilot trials over-the-air to Tesla owners (pictured above) who had a vehicle with Autopilot hardware but who didn’t buy the convenience feature package.

Tesla stopped the practice, but it continued to deliver every car with Autopilot hardware and leave the choice to activate the features as options to the owner – either when ordering the car or as an over-the-air update later.

In June, Musk announced plans to bring back those Autopilot trials.

This week, Tesla started letting eligible owners know via email that they will soon have access to the Autopilot trial.

Here’s the email:

In the next 24 hours, your Tesla will receive access to a 14-day Enhanced Autopilot trial at no cost.

During the trial, you’ll experience our most advanced driver assistance features, including: Autosteer – Assisted steering within your lane Traffic – Aware Cruise Control – Cruise control that matches the speed to traffic – Auto Lane Change – Assisted lane changes while driving on the highway – Summon – Automatically park and retrieve your vehicle – Autopark – Parallel and perpendicular parking, with a single touch.

You’ll get a notification to your touchscreen when the trial is ready. If you select ‘Enable’, all Enhanced Autopilot features, including Autosteer and Auto Lane Change, will immediately be activated and available to use.

Please only enable these features if you will pay attention to the road, keep your hands on the steering wheel, and be prepared to take over at all times.

Tesla also launched a support page for the trial on its website where they say that owners “will have the option to purchase permanent Autopilot functionality via the car’s touchscreen or through your Tesla Account at any time during or after the trial.”

When purchased after delivery, the Enhanced Autopilot package described above costs $6,000.

The automaker is launching this new Autopilot trial right before the expected launch of its software update version 9.0, which is expected to feature new Autopilot improvements and features, including the much-anticipated ‘On-ramp to Off-ramp’ Enhanced Autopilot feature.

Electrek’s Take

Last year, a source told Electrek that the take rate for Enhanced Autopilot was over 70% in the Model S and Model X. That was almost a year ago and more owners might have ordered the option by now since Tesla has improved its Autopilot software a lot since then.

But I expect the take rate to be lower for the Model 3, which should give those new Autopilot trials an opportunity for Tesla to convince many owners to buy the driver assist system.

It could result in a much-needed boost of revenue for a low cost as Tesla is attempting to become profitable this quarter.

Though if owners activate the trial this week, it looks like they wouldn’t get to try Autopilot under version 9, which shouldn’t roll out to the wider fleet until next month.

It looks like Tesla thinks that the current version of Autopilot should be enough to convince those owners and if they want to have Autopilot under version 9, they will have to pay after the trial is over.

What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.

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