By on May 23, 2017

Tesla Supercharger

Chatty Tesla owners who compel their friends and family to consider buying a Model S or X are apparently behind the company’s U-Turn on paid Supercharger use.

At the beginning of the year, Tesla, in a bid to fund a doubling of its fast-charge network, withdrew a big perk from the purchase of one of its vehicles: free Supercharger use. No longer would new buyers be able to sail off in their new Tesla, confident in their ability to juice up at one of the 750-plus stations scattered across North America. Owners who purchased their vehicle prior to January 1st were grandfathered.

Supercharger hogs were also slapped with an “idling” fee, all in the hopes of freeing up space at the stations. While the pricing structure remains — new buyers receive 400 kWh of annual free charging with their purchase, after which a variable fee applies — there’s now a way to get unlimited free power.

According to Electrek, Tesla has revealed an incentive hidden within its updated referral program. In an email, the automaker explained that customers said “free, unlimited Supercharging was one of their favorite reasons to refer a friend to buy a Tesla,” which is why the feature was partially revived.

“Beginning [May 20th], existing owners can give free, unlimited Supercharging to up to five friends by sharing their referral code, and all existing Tesla owners who purchase a new Model S or Model X will receive free, unlimited Supercharging too,” the company wrote.

That’s not the only change to the program. Tesla has retroactively granted free Supercharger use to owners who purchased between January 1st and the announcement of the referral incentive. This means the upcoming Model 3, due for deliveries at the end of the year, remains mostly a pay-to-use proposition.

That is, unless you have friends in green places. In this case, knowing someone who already owns a Model S or X bought before the announcement, (or bought a second one sometime after), is the only way to go above 400 kWh of free juice a year. Otherwise, you’re stuck using your own money to propel a vehicle you bought to save the planet. Ugh.

[Image: Tesla]

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21 Comments on “After Snatching Away the Perk, Tesla Returns Free Charging to Certain Owners...”

  • avatar


    Tesla still isn’t making money, will do another stock round to raise capital for the Model 3.

    GM, despite the dire predictions from the B&B is apparently having no problem selling every Bolt they make. I guess snobby Californians aren’t going to wait for their Model 3.

    Tesla brings unlimited supercharging back because – well d’uh – the biggest differentiation Tesla has over GM, Nissan, and BMW is the supercharger network (yes somewhat over-simplified). It helps solve one of the biggest challenges of owning an all-electric vehicle.

    • 0 avatar

      While GM can sell every Bolt they make (all 1298 last month!), I cannot believe the Bolt’s *target market* is “snobby Californians”.

      Why would anyone “snobby” ever be *seen* in a Bolt, let alone own one?

      The Bolt is a godawful subcompact five-door Chevy.

      The S is a sexy supercar at a far higher price point.

      They’re not actually competing.

      (I don’t even like the Tesla Mystique BS or anything like that! But … no, just no.)

      • 0 avatar

        Model 3 vs Bolt.

        Basically every review of the Bolt does not agree with your assessment. When did you drive one?

        • 0 avatar

          Model 3 vs Bolt doesn’t work either, for anyone who has their eyes in working order. The Bolt is an ugly compact car (or maybe subcompact, I still can’t get your American size classification right). The production Model 3 certainly won’t be.

    • 0 avatar

      “I guess snobby Californians aren’t going to wait for their Model 3.”

      it’s not “snobby Californians.”

      there’s two types of customers/potential customers for the Model 3:

      1) people whose goal is to buy a long range (200+ mile/charge) EV. Some of these people will buy a Bolt instead of waiting for the Model 3.

      2) people whose goal is to buy a Tesla. These people will wait until 2065 for the Model 3.

      incidentally, you’ll find a lot of examples of #2 on tech blogs. Their knowledge of cars begins and ends with Tesla. They also constantly brag about SpaceX’s success as though it’s their own personal achievement.

    • 0 avatar

      It doesn’t help to solve one of the biggest challenges (read: problems) of owning an all-electric vehicle, it only alleviates the problem somewhat.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      APaGttH, the primary incentive for owning an electric car in California is solo access to car pool lanes. A low-status Leaf or Bolt is just as useful in cutting down commute times as a high-status Tesla Model S.

      • 0 avatar

        Sometimes a low-status car is best for commuting anyway. Conditions at rush hour are too nasty to risk a nice car.

      • 0 avatar

        “car pool lanes”

        I was on the I-10 carpool lane through Phoenix, AZ, and it was more crowded and densely packed than the other traffic lanes.

        But at least there you can change lanes in/out of the carpool lanes and unto the other lanes.

        Not always the case everywhere, like for instance going North out of San Diego, CA. If there is ever a wreck on that carpool lane, you’re SOL and stuck.

        Been there (once) and done that.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not sure what you are suggesting. Do you honestly think Tesla won’t sell literally every model 3 they can produce even without this “perk”?

      Tesla has a ton of challenges, but *demand* isn’t one of them.

  • avatar

    That tree on the right is literally hogging a charger.

    • 0 avatar

      The tree is there for the Tesla owner to hug while he’s waiting for his car to charge.

      • 0 avatar

        @asdf Not everyone that buys is Tesla or EV is a treehugger. I make most of my money in the oil business and have some nice ICE powered toys. Maybe you should go test drive one sometime and find out why people really buy them.

        • 0 avatar

          “Not everyone that buys is Tesla or EV is a treehugger. I make most of my money in the oil business and have some nice ICE powered toys.”


          So true! People who have two, three, or more ICE vehicles often buy that token green toy to scoot around in.

          LOL! I bought a $100 1989 Camry V6 to scoot around it. Not exactly green, but what the hell?

          • 0 avatar

            @highdesertcat: You’re right.

            My EV takes the abuse of low speeds and stop and go traffic on packed urban freeways. That kind of torture was wreaking havoc on my ICE cars. Now, they get to rest at home in the garage waiting for sunny days and rides in the country.

            It’s basically a case of using the right tool for the job. An EV is perfect for heavy traffic. No gas consumed from idling, regen braking minimizes wear on the brake pads, slow speeds send range soaring well beyond EPA range. No worries about the engine overheating in hot weather.

  • avatar

    I think you mean “convince”, not “compel”.

    Unless you’re actually talking about people *forcing* their friends or family to buy a Tesla?

  • avatar

    I always heard the rich Cadillac/Lincoln/other expensive gas hog buyers didn’t care about the price of fuel or fuel economy, so why do the rich Tesla buyers care about a few pennies worth of free electricity? In fact, given their green nature I would expect that Tesla owners would absolutely insist that they pay a generous carbon tax on every bit of electricity they use that is generated by carbon-based fuels (60% in California).

  • avatar

    Another Tesla article. Another burst of self-exposure by the w&d (worst and dumbest). Do they have no self control?

  • avatar

    “They also constantly brag about SpaceX’s success as though it’s their own personal achievement.”

    And then there are the motorheads who call Musk an idiot no matter what he accomplishes.

  • avatar

    Maybe GM could include free gas with every new Chevy? Then, they could be just as nonprofit as Tesla.

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