Tesla Hits Supercharger Hogs With New Fee, Hopes to 'Never Make Any Money From It'

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Tesla announced Friday that it will impose an additional fee of forty cents per minute on vehicles left idle in a Supercharger space for more than five minutes.

The new expense is apparently another attempt by the company to clamp down on the habitual misuse of its charging network. Since many Supercharging locations are literally parking spots and a Model S takes longer to “refuel” than a gas-powered car, it makes sense that Tesla drivers might wander off to search for coffee.

While it’s easy to accuse the automaker of nickel-and-diming customers, don’t forget that Tesla only has 769 stations — usually providing between two and eight spaces — sprinkled across North America. That number leaves quick-charging opportunities few and far between. Driving to another location could end up being the rest of your day, and the likelihood of rolling into a full station will only increase when the nearly 400,000 reserved Model 3s begin production.

The company hopes to double the size of its charging network next year, but the days of free and abundant charging opportunities are gone. Tesla announced last month that, starting in 2017, new customers would have to pay for Supercharging. Now, it’s tacking on an idle penalty.

Despite the new revenue opportunity, Tesla reminds us that everything it does is for the greater good and that making money is passé:

“The Tesla app allows owners to remotely monitor their vehicle, alerting them when their charge is nearly complete and again once fully charged. For every additional minute a car remains connected to the Supercharger, it will incur a $0.40 idle fee. If the car is moved within 5 minutes, the fee is waived. To be clear, this change is purely about increasing customer happiness and we hope to never make any money from it.”

That’s $0.40 a minute if you don’t return in time, in addition to whatever the company decides to charge for juicing up cars next year. However, all anyone knows about that is the pricing will be subject to fluctuations (despite the company’s assurance that it will typically “cost less than the price of filling up a comparable gas car.”)

It’s good to hear that Tesla is so bent on not making money, because it continues to place itself in a highly-calculated position to do just that.

[Image: Tesla]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • White Shadow White Shadow on Dec 21, 2016

    A guy on YouTube posted a video of his cross-country trip with his son and when he got to the Tesla charging station, there were five or six Teslas waiting in line for the next available charge bay. Think about the potential wait just to get to the bay and then add the time to charge. That could be several hours to refuel.

  • Jdmcomp Jdmcomp on Dec 21, 2016

    To be honest, this is one of the many hurdles elect vehicles will have to overcome. I see the charging spots (not all are Tesla) with the same cars parked in front of them all day. They are free parking for elect cars while the rest of us pay for the space and the elect used. Wireless charging will have to overcome low power transfer and the EMF problem.

  • Mike Some Evs are hitting their 3 year lease residual values in 6 months.
  • Tassos Jong-iL I am just here for the beer! (did I say it right?)
  • El scotto Tim, to be tactful I think a great many of us would like a transcript of TTAC's podcast. 90 minutes is just too long for most of us to listen. -evil El Scotto kicking in- The blog at best provides amusement, 90 minutes is just too much. Way too much.
  • TooManyCars VoGhost; I was referring more to the Canadian context, but the same graft is occurring in the US of A and Europe. Political affiliation appears to be irrelevant.
  • The Oracle Going to see a lot of corporations migrating out of Delaware as the state of incorporation. Musk sets trends, he doesn’t follow them.