Premium Connectivity is now available to Australian Tesla owners, but not everybody is happy about it.
The ability to connect to the internet is an integral feature of Tesla electric cars, offering a number of high-tech and info-tainment features that thrust Tesla electric cars from mere transport device into the realm of “software-on-wheels”.
The newly arrived Premium Connectivity package – which was introduced in the US in mid-2019 with a subscription option following in December – allows Tesla drivers access to a range of extra features on top of the basic navigation included as standard.
These include traffic visualisation, satellite maps, video and music streaming, “caraoke”, and access to an internet browser using the vehicle’s in-built tablet-style touchscreen interface.
Australian Tesla drivers noticed on Saturday that the option to purchase the Premium Package had finally arrived in Australia, at a cost of $A16.99 a month – a fairly straight conversion from the US pricing of $US10/month.
Operators of the Twitter account for Australian Tesla Owners, which runs a Facebook group with 288 members, believe that the price is too high, however, and called on Tesla CEO and co-founder Elon Musk to review the pricing, by either dropping it, or offering a discount for annual payments or a higher one-off payment.
“$204 a year is a bit rich for what is offered, a lot of comments of people already saying no,” said the operators of the account.
“You’re right, will fix,” said Musk in response.
You’re right, will fix
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 18, 2020
It’s not the first time Musk has responded to concerns about Australian pricing. In February, the Tesla CEO admitted the price of the Model 3 in Australia – which has since risen again in local currency terms to account for the dropping Australian dollar – “does seem high“.
The introduction of subscription pricing for connectivity has some benefits, in addition to ensuring Tesla is getting a direct return on the service.
It also means that buyers of the Standard Range Plus (SR+) Model 3, who hitherto only received a 30-day trial of the Premium Package, will now be able to upgrade to access the new features without paying for a premium Long Range of Performance model.
But some Tesla customers who purchased the Long Range and Performance variants before July 2019 are not impressed. They say that before July, the Tesla website said that premium variants of the Model 3, as well as the Model S and X, would include the Premium Connectivity features without an end date.
“Shame we are going to have to pay this, it was implied at time of purchase that it was included for free without a time limit,” said one Tesla owner.
Looks like Premium Connectivity has come to Australian Tesla Model 3's. There is no an expiry data visible on your Tesla's Page.
Shame we are going to have to pay this, it was implied at time of purchase that it was included for free without a time limit. pic.twitter.com/bI1TgZIUH3
— DrSally (@DrSallyL) April 18, 2020
She claims that when she purchased her Model 3, the website did not say the inclusion did not clarify it was for 12 months only, sharing two screenshots to underline the argument.
“It’s been noted on the Tesla website since early 2018 that this would (eventually) become a paid service for those who purchased after the end of June 2018. While it may have taken a while to roll out, it should not come as a surprise,” responded Canadian Tesla Model 3 owner known as “Tesla Milton”.
“Yeah, this came out after cars had been purchased tho, they had long spoken of Model 3 SR+ being subscription, but the S for example was included. If they change their minds that will destroy a lot of customer good will,” another commenter, Matt Henley, responded.
As per the Tesla’s current support page on connectivity here:
“Premium Connectivity provides the ability to access all connectivity features over cellular, in addition to Wi-Fi, for the most intuitive and engaging ownership experience. Premium Connectivity is available as a monthly subscription of $16.99 and can be purchased at any time from your Tesla Account. Orders of Model S, Model X and Model 3 with Premium Interior will receive a Premium Connectivity trial for one year after delivery.
All deliveries of Model 3 Standard Range and Standard Range Plus will receive a 30-day complimentary Premium Connectivity trial.”
The page goes on show a graph outlining which owners would need to pay for a subscription, and stating that owners who purchased before July 2018 would have free connectivity (noting that the Model Y is not yet available in Australia).
Sydney-based premium Model 3 owner Tesla Tom says that a small group of purchasers are believe this should also include customers who bought before July 2019.
“What a few of us early purchasers are contesting is that in the original wording, there was no mention of a 1 year limit for the Premium Interior,” he tells The Driven.
“Prior to the LR version being released in Australia roundabout July, the wording on the Premium Interior makes no mention of a 1 year limit,” he says.
“We’re just asking for free for those who ordered prior to July 2019.”
Tesla has been approached for comment but did not immediately respond to The Driven’s enquiries.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to Australian Tesla Owners as Tesla Owners Australia.
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Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.