Tesla sent an email to all its leasees last night, announcing a “new leasing experience” to be launched in the next few months.

Currently, only car owners are able to manage their ownership through the Account portal on the EV giant’s website, but the mass email states that they are “moving the lease experience” to a similar platform. This means that from early 2021, Tesla leaseholders will be able to make their payments online, extend or transfer their lease, and – most significantly – purchase their car at the end of it.

The direct lease programme was launched shortly after the Model S was released, and was then expanded to include Tesla’s other vehicles. Currently, holders of a Model S or X are able to buy their vehicles at the end of their lease, as is standard, but Models 3 and Y had to be returned – as they were intended to be used for the fleet of self-driving taxis that Elon Musk promised would be on the road in 2020. 

Now, the fact that Model 3 and Y leasees have been told they can also buy their vehicles suggests that, like so many of Elon’s promises, this goal has been quietly pushed back, if not totally set aside. 

Speaking in April 2019, the Tesla CEO assured investors and analysts that the taxi service would be approved and on the road by the end of this year. Although some devotees think a big announcement could still be coming before 2020 is up, there’s no denying time is running out. 

Earlier this year, Tesla did release an extremely select beta for their FSD (Full Self-Driving) mode. And on the 29th November, Elon replied to a concerned fan on twitter asking about its wider release:

Probably going to a wider beta in ~2 weeks

@elonmusk

As of the time of writing, that two weeks is nearly up. Of course, it’s possible this announcement is still imminent, but it’s not much of a stretch to say Elon has a history of vast overconfidence. Equally, on the leasing front, Tesla could have simply sent out a general email that doesn’t apply to all leasees, and might still have big plans for Models 3 and Y.

Tesla has been promising FSD is just around the corner for many years, and the reality is that getting it to a point where it’s safe enough to be approved on actual roads would be an incredibly complex, unprecedented endeavour. But hey, there are still 20 days left in 2020 – we’re sure they’ll sort it out.