Tesla Brings Back Its Enhanced Autopilot System To Add To The Driver Assistance Confusion

Morning Dump Tesla Enhanced Autopilot

Tesla brings its Enhanced Autopilot Level 2 assist suite back into play, German authorities raid Hyundai and Kia, Ford recalls the F-150 Lightning. All this and more on today’s issue of The Morning Dump.

Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.

Tesla Revives Enhanced Autopilot

enhanced autopilot
Photo credit: Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

In a classic move of reviving old options, Tesla is bringing back its Enhanced Autopilot driver assist system to bridge the gap between its Autopilot and Full Self Driving Beta assist systems. As such, it shouldn’t be surprising that Enhanced Autopilot now starts at $6,000, or half the price of Full Self Driving Beta. But wait, what exactly does Enhanced Autopilot do, and what prompted Tesla to bring it back?

Enhanced Autopilot takes the standard Autopilot Level 2 assist system and adds features focused on controlled-access freeway driving, like interchange navigation, on-ramp and off-ramp assistance on navigation, and suggested lane changes on cruise control. It’s a much more honest representation of Tesla’s hardware and software capabilities than Full Self Driving Beta, although it’s still very much an assistance suite rather than anything approaching autonomy.

As for why Tesla brought it back, it’s a simple money-making proposition. The current $12,000 charge for Full Self Driving Beta is a stiff one for most consumers, so this $6,000 option could see higher take rates and thus increase profits for the Texas-based company. For context, the optional advanced driver assistance system on the BMW iX retails for $1,700, while the Mercedes-Benz EQS includes high-spec Level 2 driver assistance as standard. The Genesis GV60 small electric crossover includes Highway Driving Assist on its top-level Performance trim for $68,985 which splits the difference between Long Range and Performance trims of the Tesla Model Y, and the Polestar 2 gets upgraded driver assistance through the $3,400 Pilot pack. Consumers may also have very well-justified fears about Full Self Driving Beta putting them into dangerous situations, so this intermediate step may be an acceptable compromise for some consumers.

While more choice is usually a good thing, Tesla now has three different Level 2 driver assist systems, all with incredibly confusing names. Autopilot is really just a fairly basic Level 2 assist system and not in keeping with society’s image of an autopilot system. Enhanced Autopilot doesn’t really spell out what its enhancements are, while Full Self Driving Beta definitely isn’t self-driving. It’s not even Level 3 autonomy, let alone a higher level of mind-off automation. However, Enhanced Autopilot seems more competitive against the latest crop of Level 2 driver assist suites, and as long as informed consumers make themselves aware of Enhanced Autopilot’s limitations and don’t use the stupid summon feature, it seems possible to use safely.

German Investigators Raid Hyundai And Kia Over Emissions Allegations

Hyundai Emblem
Photo credit: Hyundai

I’m sure we all wondered how big the industry fallout would be from Dieselgate, but I’m not sure any of us expected it to go on for this long. Reuters reports that German authorities have raided properties associated with Hyundai and Kia on the grounds of suspected defeat devices that may have been used on 210,000 diesel vehicles.

See, German authorities believe that Hyundai and Kia employed software developed by Bosch similar to the software used by Volkswagen to cheat diesel emissions tests, although that’s a bit vague as we’ve seen defeat devices function in different ways. Some run a different engine map when a vehicle’s sensors detect that it’s on a chassis dynomometer, while some crank up urea injection metering under testing conditions. Whether or not Hyundai and Kia actually used defeat devices is yet to be seen.

Honestly, it’s going to be interesting to see how this all plays out. The use of defeat devices is a pretty serious allegation and while an alleged 210,000 affected units pales in comparison to Volkswagen’s number of cheaty diesels, it’s no small number if authorities’ claims turn out to be true.

Ford Recalls The F-150 Lightning

Lightning Job Site
Photo credit: Ford

The all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning may feel like the truck of the future, but it’s definitely not immune to mistakes of the present. What do I mean by that? See, EVs are heavy, which often means increased tire pressures over combustion-powered cars to cope with extra load. While cold tire pressure spec for the F-150 Lightning is 42 psi, Reuters reports that the tire pressure monitoring systems in many units are only programmed for a cold tire pressure of 35 psi.

Hey, direct tire pressure monitoring is just about everyone’s least-favorite automotive gizmo due to being expensive and temperamental, so I’m not surprised lower values were punched in. However, because tire pressure monitoring is deemed a safety issue, Ford has recalled 2,886 F-150 Lightnings in owners’ driveways and on dealers’ lots. That breaks down to 2,666 American-market trucks and 220 in Canada, so we’re not talking about a massive recall here. What’s more, no recall-related crashes have been reported, and owners won’t have to do much to get their trucks fixed. F-150 Lightnings in dealer inventory get a simple 20-minute reprogramming, while owners who don’t want to visit the dealer will receive an over-the-air update in the next 30 days. Easy as pie.

New Vehicle Sales Forecast Slip Lower

Car Dealership
Photo credit: “Row of Cars at a Car Dealership” by everycar_listed_photos is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.

While many automakers predicted the chip shortage to ease this year, I’m not sure if anyone expected the general supply chain shortage to last this long. Automotive industry analysts at Cox Automotive think the way out of the woods is a long, rutted path, and have slashed their 2022 new vehicle sales forecast from 16 million vehicles to 14.4 million.

According to Automotive News, Cox Automotive’s predictions for 2022 aren’t particularly pretty. New vehicle supply has declined by around 280,000 units year-over-year, with a massive 1.6 million vehicle deficit compared to this time in 2020. Worse still, supply chain shortages are still expected to create shortfall in the new car market, even as rampant inflation pushes some buyers out of the market. “Even though economic conditions have worsened in the past months, the lack of supply is still the greatest headwind facing the automotive industry today,” said senior economist Charlie Chesbrough.

While it’s easy to take the opinion of one analysis firm with a grain of salt, it’s a bigger deal when multiple specialists are forecasting similar shortfalls. Edmunds also announced expectations of a year-over-year decline on Tuesday, while LMC Automotive is forecasting a year-over-year sales decline and total expected new vehicle sales of just 13.1 million units in 2022. That latter figure is a rather worrying 2.3 million unit decline over 2021 sales. Buckle up, everyone. Things might be getting even bumpier.

The Flush

Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. With the car market expected to stay absolutely batshit for a very long time, I want to know how your car buying plans have been affected. Have you been pushed around by a dealer lobbing markup in at the last possible moment? Is a cheap, reliable used daily driver out of your reach? Are you holding off on acquiring a new toy? Whatever the case, I’d love to hear your stories of trying to shop for cars in this seller’s market.

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35 Responses

  1. I got lucky with my car situation. I drove a ’97 E150 conversion van as a daily driver for seven years, and when I was finally fed up with the most random and uncommon parts deciding to break, including a 3-year-old catalytic converter needing replacement, I replaced it with a 2012 Prius v….in December 2019.

    While I could have made many times more than I sold that van for then if I sold it now, I’m sure the Prius’ adjusted price would have eliminated any possible gain. And at any rate, the maintenance cost on the van was averaging way more than the monthly payment on the Prius. So I’ve definitely come out ahead.

  2. Spring of last year we bought a Kia Carnival (great van btw) and I am so glad we did it then and not now. We traded it my wife’s Tucson, got more that we expected for it because used cars were already going up, we paid MSRP and no haggling. I was checking the price of a 4Runner at the dealership where we got the van and they have a 2022, Carnival LX (base) with 15k miles for $43,000, which is more than I paid for our EX (mid) brand new. Checked KBB for mine and its ~$46,000

    We also have a 2019 Subaru Outback 3.6r Limited, that I bought new back in mid 2019. I got a decent deal on it because they were clearing out remaining stock for the new body style. Checked KBB…. ~$37,000. Right at what I paid 3 years ago.

    So both vehicles are worth more now than what we originally paid, and I’d love to take advantage of that and trade them but there is nothing to trade them for that isn’t also astronomically marked up right now new or used. I guess I’ll just be content knowing that we got new vehicles at the right time and we don’t have to deal with the crazy market.

  3. Had a new transmission installed on my 2004 Acura MDX. Cost more than the vehicle was technically worth, but was ultimately less hassle and probably cheaper than most of my other options in this market. (At least I hope so.) Better the devil you know and all that.

  4. Flush: Got a new job after my last one dropped me, burned through savings and almost burned out my wife as the sole breadwinner. Once I started getting paid we rebuilt some of our savings and got to a point where we thought I could get something more reliable and better MPG.
    Previous job I was driving 10 miles round trip. Now I’m driving 40 miles one way.

    Looked around, realized everything sucks, did the math on what sort of break-even we might have with my old truck’s mileage and new prices, then buried my head back in the sand.

    I’m tentatively searching for something sub $4k with known issues that might give me better mileage, better than break-even means 25+MPG though and that’s rough considering what is available.

  5. “I want to know how your car buying plans have been affected.”
    I gave up on a Tucson PHEV I ordered (twice, because Hyundai, the dealer, and a former employee of the dealership didn’t all communicate well and they sold the first one out from under me) because the dealership that told me MSRP on my order decided to add $10k, then said they would lower that to $5k. I bought a used pickup to avoid horrific rental prices while my Niro is in the shop. Would have gotten something with better gas mileage, but the gas prices drove the prices on anything reasonably efficient through the roof.

  6. I had intended to replace my truck by now, but as a result of the constant shortages for the past 2+ years with no end in sight, I ended up buying an old Prius to keep miles off the truck so I wouldn’t have to replace it. With what gas prices have done lately, that turned out to be a pretty good move.

  7. I didn’t want to have to buy a new vehicle in this market, but it came down to needs over wants. I’d been looking hoping to get a hybrid, preferably the new Maverick. Man, was that a tall order. Mavericks were getting $5k mark-ups everywhere. The only hybrids I could find near me were all customer orders. Lots have been pretty bare around here except with the higher end, expensive vehicles.

    I wound up buying a new Hyundai Elantra. I only got that because I saw the truck in the parking lot when driving by the dealership. They pulled two cars off the truck for that lot, and I got one. The plastic was still on everything inside, and I had to actually wait for them to enter it into their inventory. I didn’t have to haggle with price. They didn’t try to throw on any unwanted fees or warranties. As soon as I said ‘no’ they just moved on. It helps when it’s a locally owned family business. It’s not what I wanted, but I’ve been loving it so far. There’s a lot of stuff on it that I wouldn’t have optioned myself, but I’m enjoying it. I’ve gotten nothing but compliments on it. It’s a nice looking car. It gets great mileage. And the air blows ice cold.

  8. The Flush: I’ve had to put my search for a quirky, high-mileage, potentially unreliable runabout on hold.

    I didn’t become an enthusiast until after purchasing my current daily – an anonymous midsize sedan. But here I am 10 years later with a garage full of tools and a brain full of confidence and maybe even some mechanical knowhow. The desire is to sell my beigemobile and replace it with the aforementioned quirky, high-mileage, potentially unreliable runabout.

    Here’s the problem: if your quirky, high-mileage, potentially unreliable runabout craps out, you can’t just go find a cheap, boring, reliable replacement in this market the next day. You just can’t. So my happy ass is waiting out this market until there is a decent supply of safety options on the market as a fallback for whenever my quirky, high-mileage, potentially unreliable dream runabout self-immolates or something.

      1. >>what ddavidson said! Quirky & unreliable is an adventure when you’re in HS, but inevitably wrenching late into Sunday night/Monday morning finishing a ( ‘4-hour’ ) job you started Sat morning so you can get to work leads to hating what you should love.

  9. “Hey, direct tire pressure monitoring is just about everyone’s least-favorite automotive gizmo due to being expensive and temperamental”

    Definitely going to need a citation for this one. Maybe unnecessary for the enthusiast who obsessively checks their tire pressure regularly, but for normal drivers it’s a nice feature with basically no downsides.

    Expensive and temperamental don’t make sense as criticisms to me, I’ve driven hundreds of thousands of miles in TPMS equipped vehicles and replaced a grand total of one sensor ever.

    I think the most reviled automotive gizmo is start/stop, I don’t know of anyone who actively enjoys it, and quite a few who loathe it.

    1. Also realized I forgot to answer the question about car shopping. A bit of a first world problem here, but I’ve been trying for months to locate an allocation for a Z06 and finding either massive markups, none available, or 5+ year waiting lists. Frustrating to say the least.

    2. TPM is fine until the car is about ten years old. It’s never been anything but annoying to me. I drove a few cars with start/stop and you definitely have to adjust your driving style (no creeping at lights) but other than that it seemed to make sense, assuming they are dead reliable.

  10. I’d like to buy something to replace or supplement my 15mpg DD ’02 Silverado. But around here, 15 year old Asian cars with 150k are $10000 all day long. Ten grand buys a lot of fillups.

  11. If I criticize Elon will the self driving deactivate my airbag, release my seatbelt and accelerate me into a solid object and then remove all traces of this from the computer, just wondering

  12. This crazy market worked out to my advantage. In April, 2021, I bought a 2022 Kia K5 GT Line. They held firm on msrp and I knew the supplies were drying up so I paid list. $30,000. It’s a perfectly fine car but after a few months I decided it wasn’t for me. I wanted to go back to a Mustang. Did some research and was horrified at the prices for used ones. Thinking it was time to give up I received a promotional offer from Ford. $1750 discount on a new Mustang. Not a lot but it got me to consider shopping for a new one. Found a new 2021 Ecoboost 250 miles away that was equipped exactly like I would order one, color included. That dealer had a $500 promotion happening so $2250 off. They offered me $28,000 for the Kia. Not bad, but I decided to drop in on Car Max. Holy crap, they bought it for $34,000! I drove a car for seven months and made $4000! I know when you trade in a car you pay sales tax on the difference but I still came out ahead. Interest rate, 1.9%. One more happy fact. About a month ago the dealer sent me a check for $1800. Seems they overcharged for taxes.

  13. I got lucky with my car. I went shopping at the beginning of the pandemic for a Stinger GT2. I found one at a dealership for 10k off sticker. It wasn’t a color I wanted, but the price was great.

  14. It takes some searching but the cheap and good daily driver is out there. For a given definition of cheap.

    When the lease on my wife’s car expired, did not want the car due to a bad dealer, I went on the hunt for a good commuter that wouldn’t break the bank.

    I found a slightly higher mileage Subaru (2018 with 74k or 18.5 k per year) in excellent shape and full warranty for under $15,000. Sure a few years ago that would be insane money. Now that is on the rare find stage. With a good down payment and terms, it is under $300 per month.

  15. My wife owned a 2002 Chevy Tracker for about 4 years and it started to show its age. We started casually browsing around and she fell in love with the Bronco Sport. On one of our weekend trips, we visited a few dealerships up and down the California coast. All of them wanted $3000-$5000 over sticker which was absurd. We called around several dealers, including our local options, and soon had them competing against each other. Lowest we got was $1500 markup until a local dealer contacted me late on a Friday and said they would sell at MSRP if we come in tomorrow. Where have we heard that one before?

    We were very skeptical but it was a small family owned dealer so there was no fuss. Got the Bronco Sport in the exact trim/color she wanted at MSRP with no paint protection or any other BS. Finance office took 10 minutes and did not try to push us into anything. They even let us use our own financing without the usual complaints. Frankly, we were surprised it went so smoothly. Just waiting for that shoe to drop but it never did.

    Granted MSRP wasn’t a deal before the pandemic but we were fine paying that if the process was seamless and it was. Just takes a little homework calling and emailing around to get your name out there and being patient for the right dealer to come through. We also found a couple dealers that strictly sold at MSRP but the stock sells out fast. I’m just glad we didn’t have to deal with the used market. The markups there are insane!

  16. Wanted to buy a new Civic Si as our second car. The local dealer has no markups, but has an 18 month delivery estimate. My wife wants to go back to hybrid tech on our next car so we “don’t burn gas in stop and go traffic”. I like hybrids, but also want a nice, 6 speed manual transmission before I get to old to appreciate it. (I always wanted one more gear when driving my previous 5 speed manuals on the freeway.)

    So we are at an impasse. I’d suggest we get an older 6 speed and sell it in 4-5 years, but I just can’t swallow prices on the used car market. (Especially since the 6 speeds I like tend to have a markup due to demand for fun manuals.) I also want to show that my manual shifting can match or exceed auto tragic transmissions when I want to do so. I’ve felt the EPA ratings are biased against manuals.

    But enough about my problems.

  17. I’m still salty about the Hyundai dealer who acted like I was the asshole when I balked at paying $48k for a used Palisade that stickered for $35.

    “Why would I pay more for this than the new cars you have on the lot?”
    “It’s a really rare color. Also we actually have a $5k market adjustment in effect on new cars so it’s not as bad by comparison ”
    “So, when you told me earlier today that your advertised price was the price, that was not true?”
    “Well, you know supply chain issues. I’m personally in the market for a BMW and they’ve got market adjustments, too. I think you’ll find those are pretty common in this market”
    “Sorry, I’m not interested at that price”
    “So when are you coming in for a test drive?”
    “I won’t be”
    -Later that day-
    “hi, I’m the manager at [dealer name], when do you want to come in for a test drive this weekend?”
    -the next day-
    “let me know what time youre available on Saturday to test drive this car”

  18. Well… The electric Mini I ordered last year to replace an aging Mini Cooper S took about four months to arrive, though apparently I was lucky to get one at all.

    Looks like I’ll be holding off on replacing my road trip car. I’m really digging the a Hyundai Ioniq 5 and 6, but I am not paying way over MSRP for one.

  19. My 3 daily drivers, a ’90 Miata, a ’64 Corvair, and a ’76 BMW 2002 are all reliable, get around 25mpg, have no car payment, and are appreciating in value.

    Classic cars are a great choice if you don’t mind ignoring safety, comfort, and the future of the planet.

  20. When the plague started, I had just begun to look for a nice, gently used Volvo S90 T8. Decent ones were running about $35K for a 2018 with about 30K miles. Then craziness happened and the same cars are now about $50k for the same year and miles. Needless to say, I’m not buying anything anytime soon, and am continuing to drive the V60. Since I’m going to have it for another couple years at least. I went ahead and bought the 17″ OZ rally wheels to give me extra sidewall meat for our crap infrastructure.

    Maybe in ’24 or ’25 I’ll be able to convince myself that there’ll be something out there that isn’t a complete ripoff.

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