I know what you‘re wondering – is navigation included free with my new Tesla, or will I have to pay extra ongoing fees to use the GPS and maps?
The short answer is:
Basic onboard navigation and map data is included free for 8 years. But more advanced connected features require a $10/month premium subscription after that period.
Let me explain this in more detail…
Breaking Down Tesla‘s Standard vs. Premium Connectivity
When you take delivery of a shiny new Tesla hot off the production line, every car comes automatically equipped with "Standard Connectivity."
This standard connectivity kit provides you with all the essential technology features you need integrated right into your Tesla:
- Onboard GPS navigation system with detailed maps
- Turn-by-turn driving directions displayed on the touchscreen
- Over-the-air (OTA) wireless software updates
- Bluetooth & USB connections for your phone and music
- Basic Smart Summon remote parking abilities
- Arcade games on the center screen
- WiFi and LTE connectivity for internet when in cell range
With Standard Connectivity, you‘ll enjoy complimentary access to all these key features for a minimum of 8 years from the date your Tesla was first registered.
So right off the bat, you get free use of the onboard navigation and maps for almost a decade before ever needing to pay any monthly fees. That‘s pretty generous compared to other car companies!
But what happens after those first 8 years of free standard connectivity expire?
This is where Tesla gives you the option to purchase their Premium Connectivity package as an add-on subscription.
Premium Connectivity includes everything in the standard kit, plus these enhanced connected capabilities:
- Satellite view maps with live traffic visualization
- Streaming music, radio, Netflix, YouTube, and more
- Unrestricted internet browsing on the go
- Premium connected apps like Yelp and TuneIn
- Caraoke: sing karaoke in your car!
These extras provide more entertainment, information, and convenience on the road through Tesla‘s built-in LTE data connection. But they come at an added cost of $9.99 per month or $99 annually after your standard free period ends.
You can choose to stick with the standard connectivity and not pay anything extra. Or upgrade to the premium package if you want access to the fancier features.
Either way, you‘ll still have functional navigation included at no monthly charge, which I‘m sure comes as a relief!
Supercharger Charging Fees Add Up Over Time
Now, while the onboard GPS itself doesn‘t require any subscription fees, what about charging your Tesla battery at Supercharger stations?
Unfortunately Supercharger charging is not free forever either, despite some customer confusion on this point.
Here‘s a quick breakdown of how much free Supercharging new Tesla owners actually receive:
- Cars delivered before January 1, 2017 – Free unlimited lifetime access
- Cars delivered between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2018 – Free 400 kWh of credits per year
- Cars delivered after January 1, 2019 – Free Supercharging for the first 1,000 miles
So unless you purchased your Tesla before 2017, you‘ll only get 400-1000 miles of free charging credits before having to start paying by the kWh.
The current Supercharger pricing averages $0.24 – $0.34 per kWh, which works out to around $12 – $22 to recharge 250 miles of driving range.
While still cheaper than gas, those fees definitely add up over time if you use Superchargers as your main charging method. So don‘t assume it‘s all free super power for the life of your car!
Should You Use Your Phone for Navigation?
Since the onboard Tesla navigation will function fine for years without any subscription, you might be wondering if you even need to connect your phone or use it for maps.
While not required, there are some handy benefits to pairing your smartphone:
Use Google Maps or Waze for real-time traffic and route updates that the Tesla system lacks
Access your full music library and streaming apps over your phone plan rather than paying for Tesla Premium
Make hands-free calls through your car‘s speakers and microphones
Get online anywhere with your phone‘s data connection instead of the car‘s limited WiFi hotspot
So while the onboard system meets basic navigation needs, your trusty smartphone augments things with smarter routing, more entertainment options, and expanded internet access on the go.
You can display your phone‘s apps right on the Tesla‘s big center touchscreen for easy viewing. No need to constantly look down at your phone or pay for expensive LTE data you may not use that often.
How Navigation Works in a Tesla with No Connectivity
This brings up a good question – when you‘re driving way out in the countryside with no cell service, how does the navigation keep working?
The answer is: all Tesla vehicles store highly detailed map data locally in the onboard computer‘s memory.
This allows the GPS navigation system to function completely offline, just like a dedicated GPS device would.
Here are some key points about how Tesla navigation performs without any internet connectivity:
Onboard maps provide full turn-by-turn driving directions and display your precise location, even with no cell signal.
The GPS receiver pinpoints your exact position via satellites, not cell towers. So it works anywhere.
Advanced features like live traffic, satellite maps, and automatic rerouting are limited offline.
If you lose signal mid-route, directions continue but the system can‘t update estimated arrival or route around new traffic.
Software and map updates can‘t download over the air without connectivity, but offline navigation remains 100% usable.
So while connectivity enhances things, you won‘t end up lost if you suddenly enter a dead zone with no bars. The navigation keeps right on ticking thanks to those onboard map files!
A Look at Other Car Brands‘ Navigation Costs
To put Tesla‘s free basic navigation and optional premium subscriptions in perspective, let‘s see how other major auto brands compare:
- Free over-the-air map updates for 3 years on new vehicles with built-in navigation
- No ongoing fee required after that unless upgrading to premium connected services
- Includes basic OnStar safety connectivity standard
- Charges $15-$25 per month for premium navigation and apps after 3-month trial
- Offers free FordPass remote access app
- Charges $20 per month for premium navigation services with live data
- Provides standard navigation free without subscription
- Charges $25-$40 per month for premium connectivity add-ons
- Navigation free for 3-5 years depending on model
- $16 per month after that for premium navigation package
As you can see, most car companies now follow a similar model of around 3 years free for core navigation, followed by optional paid premium subscriptions.
Very few luxury automakers provide unlimited access to the latest maps, traffic, and infotainment goodies without ongoing fees.
So Tesla‘s 8 years free standard connectivity is actually quite generous in the broader industry landscape!
The Bottom Line on Tesla Navigation Costs
While "free forever Tesla GPS" may be a bit too optimistic, you do get complimentary onboard navigation capabilities for a full 8 years before any potential premium subscription fees.
And connectivity is not required for basic GPS mapping and directions thanks to the detailed maps stored locally.
So in summary:
Maps and navigation are included free for 8 years, then optional $10/month premium upgrade
Supercharger charging is free for 1,000 miles, then pay per kWh based on usage
Your phone adds traffic info, music, and internet for free via its own data plan
The onboard GPS works completely offline with no connectivity required
While not every feature remains free forever, Tesla still provides very reasonable included connectivity compared to most other luxury automakers.
You‘ll still enjoy seamless navigation for years without being forced to pay monthly bills just to use the basics. Supercharging aside, of course.
So hopefully you‘re breathing a sigh of relief knowing your new Tesla‘s GPS navigation system won‘t suddenly go dark once the "free trial" ends. You‘ve got many miles of included maps ahead of you!