Every end comes with another beginning. The earliest adopters of Cadillac’s Super Cruise hands-free semi-autonomous driving system face that reality today, when the three-year trial expires and a monthly subscription fee begins.
That was all part of the plan when Super Cruise launched for the 2018 Cadillac CT6 in September of 2017, Motor Authority reported last month. Cadillac spokesman Stefan Cross explained that the disclosure always listed that Super Cruise users would need a subscription and an OnStar plan, in addition to the $5,000 package on Premium Luxury models. It was included on the 2018 CT 6 Platinum trim, and early adopters got a one-year extension.
Super Cruise, arguably the most sophisticated Level 2 self-driving system, lets drivers ride along on more than 200,000 miles of mapped divided highways without ever needing to touch the wheel or the pedals as long as their vision remains on the road. Unlike Tesla’s Autopilot, which was scaled down to require periodic human intervention after a spate of high-profile fatal crashes, Super Cruise uses a camera mounted on the steering column to gauge the driver’s eyes. Should they close or the driver drop their gaze to check their phone, the system signals a series of escalating alerts, similar to other Level 2 systems. As long as the driver’s head is up and eyes are trained on the road, it can drive itself for hours on freeways without intervention. Most systems on the road today require hands on the steering wheel in intervals ranging from 15 seconds to 45 seconds.
Now, Cadillac is expanding Super Cruise to other vehicles as the company discontinues the CT6 full-size sedan. Super Cruise will be available on the 2021 Escalade full-size SUV, and the 2021 CT4 and CT5 compact and mid-size sedans.
For the 2021 Escalade, Super Cruise will cost $2,500 and be available on Sport, Premium Luxury, and Platinum trims, but it will likely require additional content such as the Driver Assist package, Cross confirmed in an email.
For the CT4 and CT5, Super Cruise will cost $2,500 and be available on Premium Luxury and V-Series trims, and also require additional content.
After the three-year trial on any vehicle, owners will need a Super Cruise plan for it to work, and that will cost $25 per month or $15 per month when bundled with an OnStar service.
The system needs a connected service plan for over-the-air updates that continually add more mapped miles and expand the range for Super Cruise users.
All Tesla vehicles include the hardware for Autopilot, and have OTA updates to keep it fresh. Coming later this year, Tesla promises full self-driving capability “in almost all circumstances.” The “autosteer on city streets” option costs $8,000 and will enable a user to get in the vehicle, give a voice prompt or pair it with a calendar location, and the car will drive itself from point A to point B through urban areas, roundabouts, and other stop-and-go scenarios with minimal driver intervention. It would be considered the first Level 3 system, but is pending legislation since it may not be legal in certain areas.