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Elon Musk Confirmed Tesla Will Support FSD Licensing By Other Manufacturers

Back in 2019 Tesla presented the evolution of Autopilot, the FSD or “Full Self-Driving” system. No longer just a mere roadside assistant, it basically promised to get you from point A to B, though while always keeping your eyes on the road. In short, and despite the name, it is still an autonomous level 2 "ADAS"; that is, the driver must be paying full attention at all times.


Two years later, and with the system still in beta (as it is right now), Elon Musk stated the following about the system, at Q4 shareholders meeting: "I think Tesla is open to licensing autonomous [driving] because I think it will be a relevant lifesaver and prevent injuries, that we can´t keep to ourselves. So I think it would be morally right to license it to other manufacturers if they want to use it." It is important to point out that Tesla was open to licensing discussions before, as well.

By "licensing" we directly mean "charging", so with a minimal increase in costs -basically, adapting FSD sensors to each type of car and making fine–tune adjustments due to variations in heights and dimensions- a brand new source of financing is obtained for the company, which by the way does´t come from its customers pockets. In fact, the customer base is already skyrocketing, and Tesla customers would have eventually paid for the FSD system in advance, months (or years) before it becomes commercially available.

Tesla Model Y, Courtesy of Tesla Inc.

But last Thursday, January 27th 2022, there was a step forward: to the question on social media about FSD, Elon Musk replied that Tesla was going to allow the FSD license to other manufacturers. Now, before that actually happens there is an unavoidable previous step, which is that Tesla customers themselves must have full access to the final version of the FSD system. Those who have already paid actually have the hardware -though not being used at full extent- in their cars, waiting for the software to be 100% ready.

Tesla Model 3, courtesy of Tesla Inc.

As a matter of fact the FSD system is currently available only to customers in the United States, and slowly starting to roll out in Canada. Not everyone can sign up for the FSD beta system though, only those with the best safety records based on driving criteria - such as sudden braking or keeping safe distance from other vehicles, etc.

When all regular Tesla customers can use the FSD system - no longer in beta version - other manufacturers will be able to consider whether or not it is more profitable for them to continue investing money in their own autonomous driving systems, or else take advantage of an existing commercial solution: charge their customers a small bite in the form of a markup, and earn money basically "doing nothing" (as regarding the software FSD component, at least). The individual, independent R&D path is by all means way more complicated, time-consuming, and considerably more expensive for any car manufacturer around the world, a fact that again gives Tesla yet another clear advantage.

All images courtesy of Tesla Inc.

Nico Caballero is the VP of Finance of Cogency Power, specializing in solar energy. He also holds a Diploma in Electric Cars from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and enjoys doing research about Tesla and EV batteries. He can be reached at @NicoTorqueNews on Twitter. Nico covers Tesla and electric vehicle latest happenings at Torque News.