By on December 20, 2016

Tesla Supercharger

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]

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50 Comments on “Tesla Hits Supercharger Hogs with New Fee, Hopes to ‘Never Make any Money From it’...”


  • avatar

    I wonder if this might make businesses less willing to install superchargers in their stores. They are often in restaurant parking lots and other places where the businesses are presumably hoping that the owners will wander off and buy a cup of coffee from them while it’s charging.

  • avatar
    92golf

    Maybe we’ll see a return to the old days similar to when gas stations hired high school students to pump gas.
    In this case they’d be attending to and possibly moving vehicles to parking spaces when they’re fully charged.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    They need to put their autopilot tech to practical use. I presume the charging plug will disconnect itself if the car drives away in ludicrous mode?

    Problem solved.

  • avatar
    Higheriq

    So if Tesla can program a “summon” feature into their cars, why not a “back away from the charging station when done” feature?

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Because of that electrical connection locked into the side of the car.

      • 0 avatar
        Higheriq

        Gee, you think they could build a mechanism into the charger which unhooks the connection and retracts? That was kinda the obvious part of my original question which I didn’t think I needed to actually spell out.

      • 0 avatar
        White Shadow

        That’s a minor inconvenience here in 2016. Pretty soon, they’ll have an inductive charging pad that they park over to charge up. And after that, they’ll have highways that have inductive charging built right into the roads so that you can charge while you drive.

        • 0 avatar
          jdmcomp

          Best laugh I have had all day.

          • 0 avatar
            White Shadow

            Glad you found it funny. What’s even more funny than that is if you think it’s not going to happen. Don’t look now, but people are actually working on this as I write this.

          • 0 avatar
            White Shadow

            Educate yourself:

            https://www.pluglesspower.com/learn/

          • 0 avatar
            Ermel

            City buses in Braunschweig, Germany, are already being charged wirelessly while waiting at bus stops. Certainly they are not the only ones.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            Wireless/inductive charging is inefficient and incredibly wasteful.

          • 0 avatar
            Ermel

            The Braunschweig city bus chargers are claimed to reach 90% efficiency, compared to plug-in chargers’ 92..94%. The trick is in using high frequencies and minimizing the air gap, apparently. The latter is done by lowering the vehicle onto the charger, a trick that the Tesla with its air suspension is equally capable of as is a city bus.

            https://www.heise.de/autos/artikel/Braunschweigs-batterie-elektrische-Linienbusse-mit-Induktionsladung-2488577.html?artikelseite=2 (German text)

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    There is a seven charger Tesla station at a Red Robbin restaurant closeby. I’ve never seen more than two Model S’s charging at once. It’s mostly empty. Come to think of it, the Model S is almost a rare sight around here.
    Charging a fee for idling at this station is a good way to piss off your customers.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “Charging a fee for idling at this station is a good way to piss off your customers.”

      I doubt it.

      My local Sunoco is part of a Dunkin Donuts. *Many* times, I’ve waited in line for gas, while the guy at the pump treats his spot like a parking space as he buys coffee, donuts, cigarettes, and lottery tickets in the store.

      In Tesla’s case, they have the power to do something about this sort of behavior.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “…the likelihood of rolling into a full station will only increase when the nearly 400,000 reserved Model 3s begin production”

    Agreed, despite the fact that there will be more Superchargers available. The same is true for service centers.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    Can’t they engineer little popup windmills so you charge as you drive?

    Well, maybe not with the flappy door model.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      A Quixotic attempt at perpetual-motion humor, dear Pants!

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      They’re called RATs (Ram Air Turbines {or is it RATGs? Ram Air Turbine Generators}), and it’s theoretically possible, but perhaps practically infeasible although I suspect your comment was facetious…

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        Uh, not really.

        Ram air turbines work by either:
        a) converting free energy (like one gathers in a descending aircraft, due to gravity), or
        b) converting forward motion into a much smaller energy source.

        In an aircraft, this is enough to maintain electrical power at the expense of a minor loss of momentum. In case (a) above, you eventually run out of altitude which provides the free energy. In case (b) above, the aircraft slows a bit due to the energy lost to the RAT.

        In a car, the windmill’s energy will come from forward motion, whose energy demand comes from the battery. The drag of the windmill would actually increase demand on the battery.

        Of course, regen through the wheels does a very good job of recouping lost energy.

        • 0 avatar
          319583076

          If only I’d said something like, “practically infeasible”!

          • 0 avatar
            OldManPants

            Marvelous drollery, Niner.

            Pizza, I ain’t that clever. And shouldn’t you be adding anchovies? I freakin’ love anchovies.

            SCE, for an engineer, you’re surprisingly hard to trigger like just happened.

          • 0 avatar
            SCE to AUX

            OMP/Kenmore: I totally fell for it. :)

          • 0 avatar
            shaker

            There are a surprising number of people in the world that believe that the “car-mounted windmill” could work.

            Most of them are 10 years old, but…

            not all.

            Pants: You keep that up and I’m going to have to plead with management for a name-change (not that I’m aping your move).

            Maybe:

            “P.T. Hutt:” (With apologies to Mel Brooks).

          • 0 avatar
            OldManPants

            You don’t wave meat & cheese in front of a bohunk and expect refined, cerebral discourse.

          • 0 avatar
            shaker

            “Pizza, I ain’t that clever. And shouldn’t you be adding anchovies? I freakin’ love anchovies.”

            I used to wear the anchovies, but one day I overheard someone at work saying: “There’s something fishy about that guy”, so I cleaned up my act.

  • avatar
    James2

    There is at least one Tesla (and a Leaf) in my condo, which has absolutely no electrical outlets in the garage. And –quick search– there’s no Supercharger in HNL. I should ask them where they ‘fill up’.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Maybe they charge at the office? I wouldn’t like such dependence.

      • 0 avatar
        hgrunt

        Fast charge stations like EvGo can put an 80% charge in a Leaf, I3, or similar EV, in under 30 minutes, so maybe they do that while having a coffee before driving it home.

        At places where people can charge at work, they often have very favorable parking as wells, so maybe that’s why they have an EV.

  • avatar
    sco

    40 cents a minute? Like that’s going to scare a Tesla owner. I got a $71 parking ticket in SF yesterday for being 3 minutes late getting back to my car, now that’s a deterrent!

    • 0 avatar
      hgrunt

      This is more of a psychological tactic than anything else. Think about how many rich people hate paying for parking, or parking fines.

    • 0 avatar
      thattruthguy

      A Tesla driver isn’t going to rush back to his car a minute sooner for the sake of saving 40 cents, but a rate of $24 per hour is a pretty good prod to promptly get back and move their damn car instead of treating it like a regular parking space.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I have altered the terms of our bargain. Pray I don’t alter it further…

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    Would it be a dick move to park my truck in one of those spots?

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    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.

  • avatar
    jdmcomp

    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.

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