WASHINGTON -- Tesla’s advanced driver assistant software will not gain regulatory approval in 2022, CEO Elon Musk said in remarks which indicate the company is not yet able to satisfy authorities that its cars can be driven without someone behind the wheel.
The automaker sells a $15,000 software add-on called "Full Self-Driving" (FSD) which enables its vehicles to change lanes and park autonomously.
That complements its standard "Autopilot" feature which enables cars to steer, accelerate and brake within their lanes without driver intervention.
However, the cars still need to be driven with human oversight. A completely autonomous vehicle would require regulatory approval.
Musk told a post-earnings call on Wednesday that all FSD users in North America will get an upgraded version at the end of the year, adding that while its cars are not ready to have no one behind the wheel, drivers would rarely have to touch the controls.
"The car will be able to take you from your home to your work, your friend's house, the grocery store without you touching the wheel," he said.
"It's a separate matter as to will it have regulatory approval. It will not have regulatory approval at that time," he added.
Musk also said Tesla hopes to provide an update to FSD in 2023 to show regulators that the car is much safer than the average human.
"Musk is opening the possibility Tesla will have a more difficult path to approval for FSD given heightened NHTSA and other scrutiny," said Craig Irwin, an analyst at Roth Capital.