Update: A Tesla spokesperson confirmed that the Autopilot price increase has nothing to do with added hardware, that it instead was done "to best reflect the value" of the Autopilot product as a whole — considering that there have not been major changes to Autopilot in several months, that'd seem to indicate to us that the 8.0 release with its new Autopilot features is indeed on the horizon.
Tesla Autopilot just got more expensive. Previously a $2,500 option on order (or $3,000 after delivery), the driver assist software package now runs $3,000 (or $3,500 after delivery). The price increase coincides with the announcement of a faster and longer-range P100D option for the Model S and Model X, but not with any new features for Autopilot.
Or does it?
So let's be clear, no specific new features were announced alongside the P100D. But, Tesla CEO Elon Musk did say that software improvements for Autopilot should be arriving soon. Here's what he said on a conference call:
One thing I should say, though, is that with version 8 of the software, which is hopefully going to final review right now, there will be material improvements in the autonomy of the car. I think the amount of work that has been going into version 8.0 will be very noticeable.
The improvements will on several dimensions, but that's only a software update so it will be applicable to all cars.
That's the most official word we've received on the 8.0 software update, but rumors have swirled that the update will bring a redesigned interface and improved voice commands. Autopilot has also been reported to be picking up highway off-ramp capabilities with the 8.0 update. While that alone would qualify as a "material improvement", somehow we suspect there's more to it than just that.
We wouldn't count on seeing Autopilot 2.0 just yet with Tesla 8.0 update, it's possible that the increased charge in new vehicles could be due to leveraging new hardware that's in the new cars. Electrek has reported that Tesla's planning to add additional radar units around the car, "likely one in each corner", and a triple-camera system to fulfill the hardware requirements of a fully-autonomous vehicle (even if the software's not yet ready).
There's been no indication that the price for the Autopilot upgrade has changed for existing owners that haven't pulled the trigger, and then again their hardware isn't changing along with it.