By on November 7, 2016

Tesla Supercharger

Tesla’s free Supercharger network was one of the best parts 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 “change to the economics of Supercharging.”

After issuing emails urging customers to stop hogging the network last year, Tesla has decided only to allow certain early adopters to make use of the fast-juicing power grid 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-charging 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 — 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 “a small fee” when using a Supercharger station. The size of the fee is unknown.

“We 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,” the company wrote in a blog post.

Tesla says the new fees will help fund the continued expansion of the Supercharger network.

The company has said before that 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 people 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]

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52 Comments on “Tesla Supercharger Stations Will Be Charging More Than Just Your Car in 2017...”


  • avatar

    You will know that the electric car has arrived when all of those electrical outlets outside buildings suddenly grow locks over the sockets.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Sitting in a building that was built in 2009 and has maybe 10 outlets arranged around the outside of the building – I lol’ed.

      • 0 avatar
        Coopdeville

        Can’t you just plug enough power strips into each other so that the whole parking lot is covered? That’s what we do when the power goes out and we need to get more work stations connected to the backup generator. :|

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Irony #1: A whole day’s worth of 110V charging might cost only $1 to a business.

      Irony #2: A whole day’s worth of 110V charging might yield only 30-40 miles’ range, which isn’t as useful to future long-range EVs as it was in the past.

      • 0 avatar
        quasimondo

        According to the EV advocates that roam the tech blogs, 30-40 miles is more then enough for your daily commuting needs.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Well my friend who had a Volt and now and i3 did all of his regular commute of 35 miles on his employer’s dime with the Volt. He didn’t even have a charging station at home. Top it off before leaving work and if he did anything in the evening top it up with the convenience cord.

          With the BMW he has only plugged in once at home and that was when they were predicting a strong storm with a high likelihood of it knocking out the power. Otherwise he is good for the weekend if he leave work with a full batt on Fri. Mon he gives it another full charge which will almost get him to Fri. So he usually gives it a little boost on Wed and is good if he has go go somewhere in the evening.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Anti-Ironies #1 & #2: 30-40 miles of range covers no less than 80% of the average daily commute. After all, if they plug in at home to a 220V outlet, they can get a full charge for most vehicles–including a Tesla–in 12 hours or less.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          Yes, I knew this very well as a former Leaf driver. My point is that a driver of a 200-mile EV isn’t as needy for a mileage sip as someone with a 70-mile EV.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    If somebody makes an electric car called the “Edison,” will it use AC batteries instead of DC ones?

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Edison was a proponent of DC, not AC. In fact, he fried a person in an electric chair with AC to prove how “dangerous” alternating current was. Instead of a quick death, he cooked him. Kind of made me sad to find that out as he was my idol as a small kid (I didn’t give a rat’s ass about sports figures).

      If anybody gets the chance, see if you can see the series “The men who built America”…fascinating stuff…Edison, Jp Morgan, Carnegie, etc…both the good and the bad that the era ushered in…

  • avatar
    tylanner

    EV charging stations will soon be as ubiquitous as telephone booths once were but only long enough for battery technology to make charging less and less a daily reality. You have to respect the utility mindset of Tesla regarding the not-for-profit model. Imagine if the charging station void was filled by Mobile or Shell or BP…

    With Tesla having full control over their EV pricing model they also must take the responsibility and answer to consumers…

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @tylanner
      It was never going to be free of charge. It was a PR trick by Musk to get attention to Tesla. I still think that the house wall batteries,maybe the biggest thing to come out of his company. That is if they do not do a Samsung

      • 0 avatar

        I disagree, Musk assumed his customers would not abuse the privilege. He underestimated the impact of the Tragedy of the Commons.

        He initially sold it as “free for life” and “drive coast to coast on sunshine”.

        Very few of the SC locations are supported by solar, as a result his costs for electricity are probably much higher than initial projections.

        • 0 avatar
          DC Bruce

          Since the cars are all equipped with GPS, it would be a simple matter to deny free charging within X radius of the car’s home.

          If that was the real problem. I suspect the real problem is, as you say, higher cost for electricity. than projected. As a commercial user, Tesla may have to pay a demand charge, which in the company’s case, might be quite substantial. And, like a lot of commercial — and some residential — customers, it might also be subject to time-of-day pricing, especially if it’s peak to average ratio is much greater than 1.

        • 0 avatar
          tnk479

          @JPWhite –

          Are you implying that the Supercharger stations would be cheaper to operate if they were wired up to solar panels and batteries?

          The problem is the initial investment required, and why that is worth discussing is that Tesla is hoping that home owners will make exactly that choice — pay up front for the solar roof + battery and use that to minimize demand for grid electricity. In other words, Tesla is hopeful that its customers will do what Tesla itself will not.

          • 0 avatar

            Since Tesla makes the panels and batteries costs should be manageable.

            Yes if they can avoid the demand charges which can be significant it would make a big difference.

            A local business to me installed a solar canopy over some Blink EV chargers where I live. The planing permission to do that was very difficult and took forever. There was and probably still isn’t a standard for commercial solar panel canopies in our city so they applied the same rules to the canopy as an awning at a gas station and the canopy didn’t meet minimum overhang etc which was irrelevant.

            Which is a long way to say that adding additional planning permission for solar canopies would slow down the SC rollout to a crawl.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Thumbs up, Mr. White; you’re exactly right. Musk trusted the average consumer to do the right thing and too many customers chose to abuse their “free charging” privileges.

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    Been almost an hour and havent seen anyone mention that A: if it dont charge in 10 minutes it takes too long or
    B; The ICE is dead that people that like them are lazy and killing the kids

  • avatar
    Fred

    Sounds like Tesla is sharpening their accounting pencils.

  • avatar
    orenwolf

    I’m actually surprised this didn’t happen sooner. A “Free” resource is ripe for misuse like this.

    I’d have imagined a membership + overages model, where you pay for X kwh/year (or month for frequent users) and post-pay for overages beyond that. That would be a model that allows Tesla to have an income stream to support expansion based on demand.

    I’m fairly certain that, for my use case, I’d probably fall under the “free” tab for the amount that I’d expect to use the network in a given year (a few long roadtrips).

    I think I remember BTSR talking about wanting to use the stations as essentially always-available refuel points for a fleet of UberX drivers in Model S’s though, so this should help curtail that sort of thing. ;)

    If you refuel at home this really shouldn’t be an issue. If on the other hand you were purchasing based on the use of a supercharger as your primary source of refuling, well, you may want to rethink your post-2017 purchase.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    This would work well for me, given my limited (but non-zero) need to travel long distances in my pre-ordered but mythical Model 3. About 95% of my charging will be done at home, as with most EV drivers.

    This should really help in CA, OR, and WA, where I’ve heard some Superchargers suffer from squatters. Here in the EV wasteland of western PA, the only superchargers I’ve ever seen were mounted on top of a Ford and Buick engine.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    How much charging does a Tesla get out of 400kwh?

    • 0 avatar
      orenwolf

      I believe best case, about 1000 miles.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        I would call that an “average case”, not “best case”, orenwolf. Since it’s road-tripping, supposedly you could realize nearly four miles per Wh by staying at or below the speed limit, which would add up to roughly 1400 miles at 60mph or so. (The reported numbers tend to come in around 3.4 to 3.6 miles per Wh if you want to calculate more accurately.) But then, with the level of “performance” available, the average driver would likely run at or slightly above the speed limits, meaning that 1,000-mile range would be typical, not “best case.”

  • avatar
    raffi14

    I was expecting it to cost me no matter what, so the 1000 free miles/year just seems like a nice bonus on top.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    A few things: 1. Has any of the B&B ran out of “juice” in a Tesla or out of “juice” and gas in their hybrid? 2. I know it’s not their “image” but why doesn’t Tesla cut a deal with a truckstop chain and install superchargers at truck stops. Eliminate range anxiety and all that. 3. Have Mssr’s Baruth do a “from the road” report from truckstops and minimarts between 9PM and 5 AM. We’d expect Hunter S Thompson levels of reporting.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      EV critics fear dead batteries, but the reason you don’t see EVs on the side of the road is because their drivers plan *every* trip. This was how I lived with a Leaf for 3 years.

      Superchargers are installed at strategic mileage locations; many of them are not great for much else. You’d be mistaken to harbor an image of glamorous Supercharger spots. The one nearest me is next to a Wendy’s.

      Tesla drivers don’t have range anxiety. I did suffer from range anxiety a few times in my Leaf, for a variety of reasons. I once deliberately ran it out of juice just to see what would happen, and it conked out in my garage.

      You can’t run out of juice in a conventional hybrid, since it keeps the battery within a certain charge range. You can run out of juice in a BMW i3 REX, which is really just an EV with a modest range extender whose abilities to motivate the car are quite limited.

      • 0 avatar
        Asdf

        The need to plan every trip is a great argument against EVs. And it makes the EV irrelevant, since there are other cars on the market that don’t have those debilitating limitations, so it’s really very strange that some people are crazy enough to buy EVs. I guess that’s how greenie ideology messes with some people’s heads…

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          “I guess that’s how greenie ideology messes with some people’s heads…”

          Well, I’m a pro-EV supergreenie but I believe those ends should be accomplished by disappearing 3/4ths of the global population, not by pauperizing the good 1/4th.

          Is this evidence of head-messing?

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            are you volunteering to be in that 3/4ths?

          • 0 avatar
            Old Man Pants (nee Kenmore)

            “are you volunteering to be in that 3/4ths?”

            Already golden there!

            I’ve never caused a birth so, given my cultural background, I’ve got at least 4 Encumbrance Credits.

          • 0 avatar
            PJmacgee

            “…but I believe those ends should be accomplished by disappearing 3/4ths of the global population”

            Where’s a good plague when you need one, amiright??

            “I’ve never caused a birth so, given my cultural background, I’ve got at least 4 Encumbrance Credits.”

            I’m going to start using this line, frikkin hilarious, thanks man!

        • 0 avatar
          JimC2

          Um, you guys are kinda talking about first world problems here. “Need to plan?” Lots of people call a taxi to take you to the airport, that’s planning. Or managing your work schedule around the subway schedule or bus schedule, that’s a kind of planning too.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          I plan to buy gas later today. I probably don’t have enough in the tank to wait until tomorrow evening.

          Of course, if I had an EV, my tank would be full every morning, so I wouldn’t suffer the “debilitating limitations” of planing my evening commute around a gas stop.

          I don’t know about everyone else, but I plan gas stops on longer trips. It’s not much of a bother to me. Sorry to hear that others find it so hard.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      “2. I know it’s not their “image” but why doesn’t Tesla cut a deal with a truckstop chain and install superchargers at truck stops. Eliminate range anxiety and all that.”

      That’s something I’ve mentioned myself and it seems Tesla is experimenting with exactly that right now, though using one of those large-scale gas station/convenience store chains rather than a truck stop chain. I don’t recall exactly which one but the report came out roughly a month ago.

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

    Just move to Vancouver, Canada where all EV charging stations are free.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    There is a seven bank Tesla charging station located in a shopping center about two miles from my house. I’ve never seen more than two Model S’s there at one time. It doesn’t look like people are hogging the chargers on the west side of Allentown, PA.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Watch it during the holiday season, Felix. I expect there will be a lot of travel for Thanksgiving and Christmas (and equivalent) holidays in December which could show an unusual surge of Supercharger use. At least, such was reported along I-95 last year. I live near one of the I-95 locations so I’ll try to check it out but since I have travel plans myself, I may not see the actual holiday travel load.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      If my Model 3 ever arrives, that Allentown SC will be one of the locations I’ll occasionally use when I travel east.

  • avatar
    Asdf

    Why are these called “superchargers”? The name implies that they charge fast, whereas in reality they take way too long to recharge an empty Tesla battery.

    • 0 avatar
      orenwolf

      Let’s see. If you charge from your wall it will take days. If you charge from higher end chargers, it will take hours. These chargers charge in only about 20-25 minutes.

      Now, unfortunately, I can’t get superman on the horn right now to confirm what “super” means to him, but I can try and answer your question nonetheless.

      The chargers can’t leap tall buildings in a single bound. They aren’t faster than a speeding bullet. They’re also (conveniently) not susceptible to Kryptonite, but several of them *do* get their power from our Yellow star, unlike the star orbiting the planet Krypton.

      Now, admittedly that’s a somewhat vague definition of “Super”, but I think one thing we can state unequivocally is that the 145kW charging stations are the fastest commonly available to the public currently, which makes them pretty Super in my book.

      Now, one day we might have even better chargers.. perhaps we can call them LUDICROUS chargers?

      • 0 avatar
        shaker

        @orenwolf

        LOL – Well Done.

        Perhaps Elon will enable Superchargers to go into Plaid mode for those with the funds…

        If Tesla is getting burned by locals “sponging” off SC stations, why not charge (heh) a fee for the first SC use, but then allow free SC use at stations geographically removed from the first one.

        That way, road trippers (and the positive PR that they bring) would travel cheap (but not free), and locals would see the economics of charging at home, rather than clogging up the SC’s.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        @orenwolf – Probably better not to feed the anti-Tesla troll, tempting as it is.

    • 0 avatar

      @ASDF

      Everything is relative, ask Einstein.

      Compared to gassing up, the SC take a long time to fill up the battery. However you are assuming identical refueling behavior, fill ‘ER up is rarely done with EV’s because that last 20% takes a disproportionate time to complete. Instead EV drivers add enough energy to get them where they are headed since they will plug in when they get there.

      Adding say 60 miles at a SC takes minutes. If your destination is 40 miles away that’s plenty.

  • avatar

    one of my local pay to park lots in White Plains, NY has SC equipped spaces…the parking fee for those is a little higher IIRC, but not ridiculously so.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Not even “mostly” if you just bothered to read the Tesla announcement. All current Tesla owners and any who buy before Jan 1, ’17 will still get unlimited recharging as long as they pay for the feature on purchase. After the New Year, all NEW Supercharger-accessible models will receive the approximate equivalent of 1,000 miles •per year• of free charging, which should meet most owners’ needs, if not wants.

    The intent is to stop the abuse of the Supercharger network by those who choose not to charge at home or work while still offering suitable long-range discounts for the average once-per-year vacation trip.

  • avatar
    stuki

    While perhaps economically sound, I won’t exactly be headhunting the marketing men who recommend treating new customers belonging to the Tesla S/X class as inferior, in any way, to those who came before them.

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