If you have plans to buy a Tesla (or you bought one in the past year or so), get ready to spend a little extra cash to get all of the in-car experiences you want.
Tesla is readying its customers for its Premium Connectivity service, a paid subscription that gives you access to the many in-car features Tesla drivers have enjoyed over the past few years.
If you bought a Tesla vehicle on or after July 1, 2018, you'll be subject to a $9.99 per month Premium Connectivity subscription if you want to keep many of the services baked into the in-car Tesla experience. Cars purchased before July 1, 2018, are grandfathered in and will not be subject to the new subscription service.
To be clear, the Premium Connectivity option is an opt-in program. If you decide you don't want to pay for it, you don't need to. But if you don't, you'll be left only with navigation support in your Tesla. If you pay the fee, you'll be able to get several other services, including live traffic visualization, satellite-view maps, video streaming, caraoke support, music streaming, and internet browsing.
Premium Connectivity charges will begin on January 1.
The move appears to be part of a broader effort by many tech giants to help defray the cost of data. After all, streaming and web browsing require a significant amount of data to travel over a connection. Tesla is currently eating the cost of that. With Premium Connectivity subscriptions, it would at least share in the cost with customers.
Still, you may be wondering whether taking on another subscription is really worth it. If you're someone like me, who has cut the cord, you're finding that the number of subscriptions for services is mounting. From Netflix to my Live TV stream from Hulu to Disney+ and Apple TV+, there are many services that collect a fee from me each month. If you own a Tesla, your car might be next.
Whether this affects Tesla more broadly, however, remains to be seen. Not everyone really cares about streaming in the vehicle, and there's a chance that few folks will actually sign up. But what it does for Tesla's credibility as a future-focused company with more and better services in its cars is another story entirely. By stripping away some of the things that have made Tesla unique and charging for them, it's reasonable to speculate about how customers might feel about the company. It's certainly not uncommon in the car business to pay monthly fees for content, but it'll be an adjustment for Tesla buyers.
If nothing else, Tesla's move is an indication of where we are (and where we're headed) in the tech industry. Like it or not, the future is subscription-based. And although we might not be doling out major sums of cash to any one company each month, when it all adds up, you might be surprised by just how much you're spending on monthly subscriptions.
Now your car is one more to worry about.