Source: Sheila Fitzgerald / Shutterstock.com
Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) is starting this week off in the red. TSLA stock will begin trading on a split basis later in the week, but today’s decline is due to a separate catalyst. Elon Musk has announced Tesla will be raising the price of its Full Self-Driving (FSD) system, its premium driver assistance software. Currently priced at $12,000, the product will be sold for $15,o0o starting Sept. 5, representing a 25% markup.
As CNBC reports, “All new Tesla vehicles come with a standard driver assistance package called Autopilot, which includes features like ‘Traffic-Aware Cruise Control’ and ‘Autosteer.’ These rely on cameras, other sensors, hardware and software to automatically keep a Tesla vehicle centered in its lane and traveling at the speed of surrounding traffic.”
Tesla’s FSD technology has generated plenty of controversy as it has progressed. But Musk clearly thinks demand will increase enough in the coming year to justify a price hike. Let’s dive into what TSLA stock investors can expect both before and after the FSD price hike.
What it Means for TSLA Stock
TSLA stock quickly fell after markets opened today. But Musk had already announced this news over the weekend through his favorite medium. On the morning of Aug. 21, he tweeted the following message, also highlighting the long-awaited 10.69.2 Beta update:
After wide release of FSD Beta 10.69.2, price of FSD will rise to $15k in North America on September 5th.
Current price will be honored for orders made before Sept 5th, but delivered later.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 21, 2022
In a comment on the post, Musk also noted that Tesla owners can upgrade their existing cars to FSD in two minutes by using the company’s app. Electrek reports Tesla rolled out the upgrade to 1,000 testers over the weekend. The outlet highlights the patch notes posted online appeared similar to leaked notes from the 10.13 beta upgrade, citing improvements to left turns and animal and pedestrian detection. While this sounds like positive improvements, Musk’s announcement raises one important question: is the product worth the price hike?
One expert doesn’t think so. John Koetsier is an AI and tech expert and host of the popular podcast TechFirst. He commented on Musk’s tweeted stating, “Way too expensive. You’re going to drive people to other car brands that include it.” When someone asked him to name examples of other companies providing a similar FSD software, Koetsier cited the Cadillac Super Cruise package. This alternative is offered by General Motors (NYSE:GM) for substantially less than Tesla’s equivalent. In early 2022, Input reported the following:
“GM’s Super Cruise is making a play to become the gold standard for driving assist. While it takes a longer time to establish the Super Cruise network compared to Tesla’s approach, GM is well on its way to making it available on major highways and roads. Super Cruise, like Tesla’s Autopilot, is subscription-based, and costs $25 a month, though it does come free for three years with most GM vehicles.”
The current monthly subscription cost for Tesla’s FSD package is $199. Next to that, GM’s option looks like an excellent deal. While it’s true that most other automakers aren’t offering similar products, Koetsier also states others will follow. Ford (NYSE:F) is already introducing the BlueCruise system, formerly known as Active Driver Assist.
The Road Ahead
While these companies haven’t been able to rival Tesla’s electric vehicle (EV) sales, FSD is a new type of technology that is poised to grow in popularity. Companies that are early to the party will have at least a chance at securing a market share, particularly as Tesla’s FSD tech has been flamed for multiple accidents. If another automaker’s driver assistance tech can help garner public trust, it could push TSLA stock down.
As such, it doesn’t make sense for Tesla to be raising prices at such a critical time. TSLA stock tell after the company raised EV prices in June 2022. Since demand for FSD packages isn’t as high as it is for Tesla vehicles, these price hikes could push it down even further.
On the date of publication, Samuel O’Brient did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.