Yes, Basic Features in a Tesla Will Cost You Extra

Yes, Basic Features in a Tesla Will Cost You Extra

Teslas are great cars, and at the moment they’re cheaper than ever in Australia, but not a lot of prospective buyers are across the subscription costs of owning a Tesla.

Elon’s EV brand is far from the only company that charges subscription costs for services in their cars, remember when BMW charged a subscription for heated seats? But with Tesla, it’s quite a notable requirement for the best experience, given that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren’t available in its cars, and that onboard features such as live traffic on maps, video streaming, and music streaming need to be paid for.

So, here are the things that you get with a Tesla subscription in your new Model 3 or Model Y.

Tesla subscription costs: how much do you pay, and what do you get?

To cover our bases first off, Tesla doesn’t charge subscription costs for basic navigation for the first eight years of ownership. This is offered in the car under the banner of ‘Standard Connectivity’. It is the only connectivity feature to be included with the cost of a car.

After eight years, the driver will be required to pay for navigation. Tesla has not listed a price for the standard plan yet. Owners of second-hand Teslas will be notified how much time they have left with the plan.

However, to get the best experience, drivers need to pay $9.99 per month to Tesla for the Premium Connectivity plan. Premium Connectivity is offered as a free 30-day trial upon delivery.

Premium Connectivity includes useful features, and others, not so much. The most notable features are Music Streaming (over Spotify, Apple Music, TuneIn, or Tidal), Live Traffic Visualisation (which shows traffic congestion via Google Maps on the navigation screen), and Satellite View Maps.

There’s also a bunch of stuff that you’re probably not going to be using all that much, such as Video Streaming (over-supported apps), Caraoke, and the in-built Internet Browser. Note that all of these things would only be useable when the car is stopped or using the screen in the back in the case of the new Tesla Model 3.

Earlier adopters don’t have to pay, though

Tesla only introduced the change to Standard Connectivity in 2022, and before July 20, 2022, any Tesla purchased would get lifetime Standard Connectivity. Before July 1, 2018, any Tesla purchased has access to free lifetime Premium Connectivity.

tesla subscription costs
Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

Are Tesla’s subscription costs a big deal?

Here’s the thing, Tesla’s inbuilt infotainment services are some of the best you can get in any car (I personally prefer what’s offered in the Polestar 2 and the Ford Mustang Mach-E). It’s not unusual for a car company to charge for these services, which do realistically cost the company money to offer coverage on a mobile network.

MG, for example, charges $50 per year for the iSmart features in its MG4 and MG ZS EV, after a complimentary first year. That subscription includes a bunch of additional services, such as app features for checking car diagnostics. Polestar plans to charge users for inbuilt connectivity after the first three years of ownership, too, but hasn’t announced a cost yet.

However, Tesla puts customers at a notable disadvantage compared to other car companies by not offering Android Auto or Apple CarPlay support, be it wired or wireless, in their cars. You can still connect your phone to your Tesla over Bluetooth, and set your playback sound to the speakers of the car, but you won’t be able to get an alternative infotainment OS launched from your phone. This means that, whether you like it or not, you’ll need to be comfortable with Tesla’s infotainment system, and one way or another, be comfortable with its attached costs.

Which might be a non-issue for you. After all, adding $10 per month cost to your running costs might be passable, especially if you’re going to slap down upwards of $50,000 on a car.

If you want my advice, I’d encourage you to try out alternatives to the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y, in this day and age, infotainment matters a lot to your driving experience. Tesla no doubt has one of the best infotainment systems on offer, but not having access to phone-based infotainment might be a dealbreaker for you.

Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

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