Tesla’s free Supercharger network was one of the best partsÂ of being a Tesla owner. Free electricity and the lofty social status that comes with EV ownership? What’s not to like? Well, the the company just announced it’s about to make a â€œchange to the economics of Supercharging.â€�
After issuing emails urging customers to stop hogging the network last year, Tesla has decided only to allow certain early adoptersÂ to make use of the fast-juicing power gridÂ free of charge. Meanwhile, all customers purchasing vehicles after January 2017 will have to pay up.
The plan for Tesla’s upcoming Model 3 never included free Supercharging. Its $35,000 price wasn’t designed to encompass a no-fee, fast-chargingÂ fill-up at Supercharger stations. However, Musk had said that Model S and X owners already pay for the privilege, as the charging fee was built into the purchase price of their vehicles.
Will higher-end models purchased after the new year come with a reduced price tag to account for the new supercharging fee?
It doesn’t sound like it. Instead, Tesla is offering customers who buy vehicles after the January 1 cutoff 400 kWh of free Supercharging credits each year â€”Â essentially, a limited gas card.
While current Model S or X owners can continue to enjoy free electricity, any customer who orders a Tesla after the New Year will have to pay â€œa small feeâ€� when using aÂ Supercharger station. The size of the fee is unknown.
â€œWe will release the details of the program later this year, and while prices may fluctuate over time and vary regionally based on the cost of electricity, our Supercharger Network will never be a profit center,â€� the company wrote in a blog post.
Tesla says the new fees will help fundÂ the continued expansion of the Supercharger network.
The company has said before thatÂ Supercharger stations were meant to be used primarily for longer trips, instead of as a routine charging solution. Tesla reiterated this in its announcement by stating its preference for customers to charge their cars during off-hours at work or home, just like a cell phone.
So, this Supercharging fee is basically the cup of coffee you have to buy at Starbucks to plug-in your mobile device when you’re out of the office but not yet home for the evening.
A larger network of extremely quick charging stations would be invaluable to peopleÂ wanting to take their electric vehicle on a road trip. However, the idea of having to pay makes this now seem less like a futuristic utopia and more like a gas station where you linger for an extra thirty minutes.[Image: Tesla]