By on December 19, 2017

[Image: Tesla Motors]

I didn’t learn about the “California No” until I started writing about cars. I was raised on the East Coast, where people have no trouble saying “No” whatsoever. There’s even a song about it. In Ohio, people might be apologetic about it but they will still forthrightly tell you, “I’m sorry, I’m not going to buy from you,” or “I don’t want to meet with you about that.”

That’s not how California works. The so-called “California No” is simply a drawn-out pas de deux in which someone avoids responding directly to your question because they are unwilling to directly refuse or reject you. Supposedly, the California No and the Asian No are related. I couldn’t say. All I can tell you is that I have zero patience for the California No, particularly when it comes from people working in the automotive PR or journalism “spaces,” and I will make attempts to California-No me as uncomfortable as humanly possible, without exception.

To this fine Golden State institution, you can now add the related “California Prohibit,” which is best exemplified by Tesla’s new directive regarding “commercial” use of its Supercharger facilities.

Supercharger Fair Use

To help ensure that Superchargers are available for their intended use, we ask that you not charge your vehicle using a Supercharger if your vehicle is being used:

as a taxi;
for ridesourcing or ridesharing (through Uber, Lyft or similar services);
to commercially deliver or transport goods;
for government purposes; or
for any other commercial venture.

If you charge your vehicle in a manner that does not comply with this Supercharger Fair Use Policy, we may ask you to modify this behavior. We may also take additional action to protect the availability of Superchargers for their intended purpose, such as limiting or blocking your vehicle’s ability to use Supercharger stations.

This Policy applies to all Superchargers worldwide and all Tesla vehicles purchased, either new or used, whether from Tesla or a third party, after December 15, 2017. Tesla may choose to exclude certain Supercharger stations or occasional trips from the scope of this Policy, such as to accommodate specific local circumstances.

Tesla is going to “ask” you to “modify this behavior.” And they “may” take additional action. You can read the whole text at Tesla’s site but there’s nothing any less equivocal than the above. And it’s all headed by the bizarre title of “Supercharger Fair Use.” Well, what’s fair? If you spend a hundred grand on a car with the expectation that you’ll be able to Supercharge on Tesla’s network, what feels “fair” to you? Let’s say you specifically bought a lower-end Tesla with the intention of providing ride-share or livery services, and you baked the availability and cost of power via Superchargers into your calculation? How screwed are you right now?

What’s fascinating about this to me is how closely it mirrors the transition of the computing industry from “you bought it, you use it” to “you’re utterly dependent on our good will.” Prior to the turn of the century, it was generally understood that the purchase of a computer or a piece of software entitled you to do pretty much anything you could manage with said items. In some cases, the product was sold with restrictions — but those restrictions were easy to understand and they didn’t change over time.

Here’s an example. A while ago I worked at an automaker whose name was surprisingly similar to a character in Street Fighter. Anyway, at the M. Bison Motor Company we had a bunch of old Pentium-class PCs that were being used as controllers for industrial robots. The robots had a 25-year lifespan, and they were only halfway through said lifespan, so we ran them on decade-old desktops that generally had no connection to the Internet. This worked surprisingly well. We didn’t update the computers, we didn’t change them, we just left them connected to the robots and disconnected from any network whatsoever.

God help the company that tries a strategy like that in 2017. If you keep a modern device away from the Internet too long, it will progressively lose functionality until you have a paperweight. If I don’t keep my Fire tablet connected to the Internet, I lose the right to watch my movies or listen to my music. I’ve now learned that I need to turn the tablet on the night before any flight I take, otherwise I’ll find out that I have a blank slate at 36,000 feet.

The End-User-License-Agreements (EULAs) that accompany modern software and hardware products are deliberately overlong, overcomplicated, and overly restrictive. They are designed to let the company behind the product evade all responsibility while at the same time retaining total control over what you do with said product. The EULA can be updated at any time, and if you disagree your product can be “bricked.” Never in history have we had this imbalance of power between corporations and consumers. There was just one consolation possible: at least it didn’t apply to the “real world” of homes, cars, meals, et cetera.

Well, it applies now. Tesla can “ask” you to “modify” your behavior. If you fail to comply, it “might” take additional steps. Did you buy a Tesla thinking you’d have unlimited use of a Supercharger? Sucks to be you. Naturally, you can always sue Tesla, whether individually or as part of a class, but in the meantime you’re going to suffer the consequence of Tesla’s whims.

I’ve been racking my brain to think of a pre-electric-era analogy to use here, and the best I can come up with is this: Let’s say that the biodiesel revolution had happened in 1979 and Mercedes-Benz decided to send service techs out in the dead of night to make changes to their cars that would prevent them from running on biodiesel. As some of you will immediately note, it’s not a very good analogy. That’s in large part because no automaker has ever done anything like promise free fillups to its customers. Only a Silicon Valley corporation would do something like that, and the only reason they would act in such “disruptive” fashion would be because they envisioned having the power to change their minds about it after the fact if doing what they promised proved too onerous.

I think this Supercharger restriction business will prove to be extremely unpleasant for Tesla. They’d have been better off just letting the Uber drivers inconvenience everybody else. Restricting access to charging based on the type of use case leads all the Aspie owners out there to imagine themselves a sort of six-figure-luxury-driver Pastor Martin Niemoller. It will dampen enthusiasm for Tesla in a way that a little extra wait for a Supercharger never would.

Those of you who read me here and elsewhere will no doubt have noticed a growing skepticism on my part regarding the societal impact of our Left Coast Illuminati. I can’t help it. There are just too many signs out there that our long nationwide romance with Silicon Valley has degenerated into a spectacularly abusive relationship. And while I remain a supporter of Elon Musk and his big American dreams, I’m now firmly convinced that he’s going to have to adopt a non-Valley approach to attracting, satisfying, and retaining customers.

In short, he’s going to have to learn when to forthrightly say “No” — and when to forthrightly say “Yes,” while meaning it.

[Image: Tesla]

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95 Comments on “No Fixed Abode: Guess You Won’t Be Superchargin’ After All, Pal...”


  • avatar
    Advance_92

    “The End-User-License-Agreements (EULAs) that accompany modern software and hardware products are deliberately overlong, overcomplicated, and overly restrictive.”
    This has been the case for at least ten years, now. And no segue to net neutrality? If you are upset about anything forcing you behave – especially electronically – that’s your final destination.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Tesla is bleeding money and the “free” recharging is based on 10,000-15,000 miles of annual use with most (80%) of the recharging being done at home or other non-supercharging locations. Taxi/Uber Tesla owners probably double or quadruple that annual mileage and do most of their recharging at the “free” places, which costs Elon more than he was expecting. The bigger problem is going to be IF Tesla ever produces/sells what they hope with the Model 3, the supercharger networks are going to be full a lot more often, because sales are going to rise much faster than new supercharger installations. Mr. $120,000 Model S/X owner with “free” supercharging privileges is not going to be happy when he has 50 miles of range for 80 miles of remaining journey, and a 1+ hour wait for a supercharger connection because there are two model 3 owners ahead of him in line.

    • 0 avatar
      mrwiizrd

      “The bigger problem is going to be IF Tesla ever produces/sells what they hope with the Model 3, the supercharger networks are going to be full a lot more often, because sales are going to rise much faster than new supercharger installations. Mr. $120,000 Model S/X owner with “free” supercharging privileges is not going to be happy when he has 50 miles of range for 80 miles of remaining journey, and a 1+ hour wait for a supercharger connection because there are two model 3 owners ahead of him in line.”

      Doubtful. If this ever becomes an issue, Tesla will just create supercharger stations that only service the Model S/X customers.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        It’s a sign of catastrophic national leadership and nothing less than a moral sin that the United States of America, in the year 2017, does not already have an 100% renewable energy-powered interstate charging grid (not limited to EV vehicles, but allowing homes and businesses to tap into it as well) up and running, which would not only be environmentally sound, but actually SAVE tens of billions of dollars, improve human health/mitigate diseases, CREATE tens of billions of $$$ worth of economic activity/jobs/stimulus annually,

        But the current U.S. “leadership,” using people as ignorant as Jack Baruth as pawns, is too aligned with the status quo oil, coal, natural gas alliance (the Carbon Cartel) to have any incentive other than preserve the status quo, thwart progress, and run interference for as long as possible.

        As with most other progressive causes, it will fall on businesses to transform the grid and get to a 100% clean, renewable, reliable power grid, and tell the forever corrupt government “officials” to fcuk off, and disempower their army of ignorant and backwards-looking pawns (such as the Jack Baruths of the world), by just doing it, which will deny those fossils and relics the argument that it’s not possible or beneficial (it’s both possible, nay…inevitable….and highly beneficial, in terms of cost-savings, economic stimulus, health benefits, independence, cost-stabilization, reliability, etc., etc., etc. – the benefits would be so huge as to literally trigger the next golden age of civilization).

        Get on board, or get left behind, America. Your main economic and rivals are much further advanced than you are, already, and their lead over you is growing with each passing day.

        • 0 avatar
          SatelliteView

          Deadweight, if renewables are getting cheaper every year, what are you worried about? In no time market forces will prevail

          • 0 avatar
            probert

            You mean the market forces that subsidize the oil companies with tax dollars and most of our military might. Them be some heavy market forces.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            The Military needs oil to fuel their hardware. Superchargers, and their attendant powerstations and grids, have a limited lifespan in war zones. And are a pain to build and operate at fighter plane altitudes.

        • 0 avatar
          markf

          “But the current U.S. “leadership,” using people as ignorant as Jack Baruth as pawns, is too aligned with the status quo oil, coal, natural gas alliance (the Carbon Cartel) to have any incentive other than preserve the status quo, thwart progress, and run interference for as long as possible.” blah, blah, rant, rant….

          The best part of any Jack Baruth column is watching lunatics like this lose their sh%%

          Where do people think all this “free” electricity is going to come from?

          • 0 avatar
            Erikstrawn

            A few years back, driving across the Honduran countryside, I saw a row of massive wind generators collecting “free electricity”. If the Hondurans can afford it, we can definitely afford it. Soon after we sprouted similar wind generator farms here in Oklahoma. Our renewable grid is growing, but we’re behind the curve.

          • 0 avatar

            MarkF: don’t you know that wind farms are entirely free to put in place and operate?? There are absolutely NO maintenance costs. No repair costs. No fabrication costs. No building costs. They. Just. Happen. AND (dramatic pause) They’re FREE!!!

            Recently talked to a friend who works for a company that (doesn’t) do any of the things I mention. Yeah, he gets paid for staying home and playing with his kids. That makes it FREE.

            I agree with you – there ain’t no free.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @narkf – where does @Deadweight use the word “free”???????

            Stop twisting the narrative. The only person I see that has lost their “sh%%” is you.

            Conventional power companies in the USA have lobbied both federal and state governments to impede renewable power.

            “David Pomerantz, executive director of the Energy and Policy Institute, a renewable energy advocacy group, believes that the new lobby campaign by utility companies could continue to hurt the growth of solar, especially in the US.

            “Utilities are trying to block rooftop solar because it presents an existential threat to their monopoly business model,” he said.”

            Jack bemoans “California No” but what about energy company doublespeak?

            “Utilities argue that rules allowing private solar customers to sell excess power back to the grid at the retail price — a practice known as net metering — can be unfair to homeowners who do not want or cannot afford their own solar installations.”

            Don’t they mean unfair to them?

        • 0 avatar
          Flipper35

          I wish they would remove all the subsidies for that stuff and let it progress on its own. That way we can have real innovation instead of stagnation where they get paid for little innovation.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      “This Policy applies to all Superchargers worldwide and all Tesla vehicles purchased, either new or used, whether from Tesla or a third party, after December 15, 2017”

      So this is putting new buyers on notice that they can’t keep using Superchargers at their discretion. It doesn’t blow up the business plan of existing Tesla livery operators.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Is this new? There must have been some sort of terms of use in place since Superchargers became available.

    If this is new, and the previous terms did not have any such restrictions, then a hypothetical person using a Model S or X for commercial or governmental use might have a claim based on promissory estoppel, maybe.

    In the US, I find it hard to believe that anyone is using a Tesla that way. Model S and X are far too expensive and there are no* Model 3s on the street yet.

    *except for a few nightmare basically-preproduction cars that will be crushed within 5 years

    • 0 avatar
      Jeremiah Mckenna

      Are Tesla charging stations free?
      As of January 1, 2017, anyone who orders a Tesla will get just 400 kWh of free Supercharging credits per year, good for about 1,000 miles of driving. Tesla has not revealed how much it will cost after that limit, but says in a blog post the “small fee” will be cheaper than buying gas.Nov 7, 2016
      Tesla Motors End Free Access to Superchargers | WIRED
      https://www.wired.com/2016/11/tesla-grows-gives-free-charging/

    • 0 avatar
      Jeremiah Mckenna

      There are a ton of people that use Tesla Model S/X for livery services around this country, especially in the So-Cal, Silicon Valley, NYC, D.C. as well as other affluent areas. Look at how many Lexus LS, Audi A8L, Lincoln Navigator, Cadillac Escalade ESV and a few other high line autos are being used.

    • 0 avatar
      windnsea00

      I’ve seen many Tesla’s out here in LA used for livery, especially the X model. Also was in Miami Beach recently and noticed some of the high end hotels used them.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      While I agree there probably aren’t gov’t Model S and X I have seen S in livery service and being used by boutique hotels and there are probably X in use too.

      At Paramount Motors in Seattle they usually have an S or 2 in stock for $40k-$45k. That is just a few thousand dollars more than say a similar year but higher mile LS hybrid.

      IF you could get away with using a supercharger exclusively for free you’d save an easy $500 a month at 1000mi per week compared to that 20mpg hybrid. Makes an extra $50 month payment easy to justify.

  • avatar
    Jeremiah Mckenna

    Who cares? the charging stations belong to Tesla, not the buyers. He/Tesla can do what ever they feel is necessary in order to provide a service to whomever he cares to.

    Or maybe if there is a charging station that has more than say three chargers at one location, he can designate one of those chargers to commercial use.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Buyers did pay extra for an option (or trim level) that allowed them to use Superchargers, which arguably gives the buyers some contract rights depending on what Tesla said at the time of sale. It’s not a service that Tesla’s providing totally for free.

      • 0 avatar
        Daniel J

        Tesla screwed the pooch simply by not foreseeing this issue. What they should have done, like what many “software” companies have done, is simply charge more to those who will be using their product to make money, such as a Livery service. I’m somewhat surprised they didn’t get this right. Most pay for software has some business model that supports those who use a product for home or personal use vs a professional environment.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeremiah Mckenna

        Not according to this. It seems all get one level of use, 400kWh.

        Are Tesla charging stations free?
        As of January 1, 2017, anyone who orders a Tesla will get just 400 kWh of free Supercharging credits per year, good for about 1,000 miles of driving. Tesla has not revealed how much it will cost after that limit, but says in a blog post the “small fee” will be cheaper than buying gas.Nov 7, 2016
        Tesla Motors End Free Access to Superchargers | WIRED
        https://www.wired.com/2016/11/tesla-grows-gives-free-charging/

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        And this certainly reads like any of those who’s original contract entitled them to unlimited charging will continue to have that as long as they own the vehicle.

        If the original contract didn’t specify that it didn’t transfer to subsequent owners I can see a claim of a loss of resale value based on this announcement.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    Eh, I’m okay with this. It’s long been the case that if you’re going to use anything commercially there will be additional restrictions over what you can do for personal use. Car insurance, internet plans, etc etc.

    • 0 avatar
      Garrett

      The point isn’t the restrictions. The point is the arbitrary nature of which they can be introduced, modified, etc. as well as the fact that they try to word things in a way to make it seem like those restrictions are not hard and fast.

      Want to know how to piss off a customer? Make them feel like they are on the receiving end of restrictions that are not being universally enforced, or are subject to a company’s whims with no recourse for the consumer.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeremiah Mckenna

        It doesn’t really matter. All of the cars are already sold. If only 1 – 5 % don’t return due to this change, it won’t hurt their numbers.

        • 0 avatar
          Garrett

          What about people like me who see stuff like this and don’t trust them enough to give them my business?

          • 0 avatar
            GoVeg

            Then best that you NOT buy as it appears that you are challenged in your ability to read English. This is about CURRENT AND FUTURE sales–it does nothing to change the Supercharger access of those that are already owners.

            Geesh. Elon Musk is trying to get us to a sustainable future and people line up to throw rocks.

            Amazing.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        “The point is the arbitrary nature of which they can be introduced, modified, etc. as well as the fact that they try to word things in a way to make it seem like those restrictions are not hard and fast.”

        Sounds like politics.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “you’re utterly dependent on our good will.”

    Now let’s extend this idea to subscription-service AVs that will apparently be the only legal way to travel long distances three decades (or less!) from now.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Yeah, lol you command the car to go to McDonald’s, it denies you because you’re too fat. You want to go to a gun shop, too bad, guns are only for lunatics. Okay, lets go to Target, nope, the car is “sponsored” by a competing buisness, so that’s your only choice.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “They are designed to let the company behind the product evade all responsibility while at the same time retaining total control over what you do with said product. The EULA can be updated at any time, and if you disagree your product can be “bricked.” Never in history have we had this imbalance of power between corporations and consumers.”

    Where is the [in]Justice Department when you need them?

    Oh right, a wholly owned subsidiary of Alphabet, Inc.

  • avatar
    Jeremiah Mckenna

    As Stingray65 said, Tesla sells the “idea” of so called free charges being actually charged in the cost of the vehicle. So if a person/entity uses more than they were charged for, then that eats into more of the companies bottom line than was predetermined at POS/TOS.

    Eventually enough leaches will suck the blood dry and things will change. In order to recharge your vehicle, it will cost. I believe there will be a charge card or other tracking system that will only allow a set amount of electricity to be used up by each car/customer. Will that be on a total basis, a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly limit? No way to tell, but I can see that as being a possibility.

    Nothing is free and everything that is free is used up by the masses until it is no longer provided for free.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeremiah Mckenna

      I did find this…

      Are Tesla charging stations free?
      As of January 1, 2017, anyone who orders a Tesla will get just 400 kWh of free Supercharging credits per year, good for about 1,000 miles of driving. Tesla has not revealed how much it will cost after that limit, but says in a blog post the “small fee” will be cheaper than buying gas.Nov 7, 2016
      Tesla Motors End Free Access to Superchargers | WIRED
      https://www.wired.com/2016/11/tesla-grows-gives-free-charging/

      So it is safe to say that there is some sort of meter/pay system set up.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        That will be some nice cash flow for an unprofitable company.

        • 0 avatar
          Jeremiah Mckenna

          I don’t follow you. Are you saying that Tesla is an unprofitable company? If so, I agree.

          If yu are saying that charging someone for electricity is unprofitable, I disagree. Especially when more people start using it.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I was referring to the the first part. On the second, I also agree. They will make it like E85, its supposed to be a huge discount but comes out to being about 20% for only roughly 70% of the same energy.

            http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/hybrid-electric/a7263/the-one-time-it-makes-clear-sense-to-buy-e85/

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Tesla walked it back after customer outrage, do some more research at the University of Google, I’m not your research assistant.

        • 0 avatar
          Jeremiah Mckenna

          Not according to TESLA . COM. They have NOT walked anything back…

          Annual Roadtrip Credits
          Each year, Model S and Model X owners receive 400 kWh of free Supercharger credit, enough to drive about 1,000 miles. These credits cover the long distance driving needs of most Model S and Model X owners, so road trips are completely free. Customers who travel beyond the annual credit pay a small fee to Supercharge—only a fraction of the cost of gas.

          https://www.tesla.com/supercharger

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Is the Sony/BMG ‘scandal’ a useful example/analogy when discussing this?

  • avatar
    turbo_awd

    Seems to me that they’re saying “if everyone starts to abuse it, we’ll have to do something”. I doubt if someone uses it once a week, even when driving for Uber, that it’ll be a big deal.. It’s more a “if you can’t behave, we’ll have to be stricter”.

    Sadly, it’s another tragedy of the commons..

  • avatar
    Daniel J

    Simply put, that is how companies make money. You don’t own the software. You never have. You own USE of the software. Nintendo is selling customers the hardware and USE of the software. No one really, or rarely, ever owns the software. This has been going on for years. All we have is a “license” to the software.

    Does that apply to car ownership? Well, it gets vague, now doesn’t it:

    https://www.thecarconnection.com/news/1098094_do-you-really-own-your-car-gm-john-deere-say-no

    John Deere says no.

    Who owns the the “rights” to these charging stations? Can Tesla, through software intervention on a car owned by a customer, prevent use of charging stations? I’d argue yes, since when you buy a Tesla, the owner is only licensing the software.

    Fundamentally, lets let the free market sort it out, right? Just like Net Neutrality, the free market will work itself out.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      The difference is, apparently you don’t have the use of the hardware -the product you payed for- if you fail to kowtow and obey. This is where the line is crossed.

      pre00.deviantart.net/ce33/th/pre/i/2016/125/0/d/iconsume_apple_eye___this_is_your_god_by_halhefnerart-da1dsfy.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      Daniel J

      I get what you are talking about. You have full use of the hardware, just without THEIR software running on it. If Microsoft decided to brick my PC because I am not adhering to their terms of use, I just go install another OS. I understand that this seems a little obtuse, but how is it any different? We can’t expect custom hardware without custom software (even though that of the hardware in todays devices is really as custom as manufacturers lead us to believe).

      Also keep in mind that hardware, especially custom hardware, is also copyright and in some cases, patent protected. In some cases, systems (hardware and software working together) are also copyright and patent protected.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        What hardware is really custom anymore? x86/x64 there are really only two major chip mfgs. In mobile there are what, a handful? Qualcomm, Apple, Samsung, Intel, AMD? Only Apple designs its own hardware and software, and it’s MacBooks use Intel hardware common to any PC.

        If I buy a Samsung product, which was designed for Android (which is licensed via the Apache License), if Samsung wants to block me out from it I should be able to install my own copy of Android at the very least. Apple mobile is really the only one in which there is no replacement software, as stated MacBooks are Intel based hardware and can run other operating systems. My Sony PS3 still works as designed if I don’t absorb their latest firmware, I am only prevented from accessing PSN if I fail to agree. I automotive terms, If I buy a car do I not own it? Can Ford five years later come back and say you didn’t build that; you can’t sell that, you can’t drive that?

        Recreating “dumb terminals” which can only be used through Cloud Fascism™ is a step backward in technological evolution. There are and should always be alternatives for the physical product you purchase. IP is an entirely different matter.

        “In some cases, systems (hardware and software working together) are also copyright and patent protected.”

        Apple’s MacBooks with OSX are the only ones AFAIK (for the uninitiated, you are not licensed to run OSX on other Intel hardware but it can be done). Probably the mobile stuff too but I don’t know of an alternative OS for them.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          https://www.quora.com/Is-it-possible-to-install-a-custom-operating-system-on-an-iPhone-device-And-if-so-is-it-legal

          A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.

  • avatar
    Jeremiah Mckenna

    After thinking about it a few minutes, I also came up with another, very realistic scenario based on current conditions at Tesla. That is, it may not be a problem for Tesla at all since they have not shown an actual real profit based on sales of their product. If/when Tesla falls flat, those charging stations will be dormant, and able to be bought out by someone or the municipality in which they reside. This will be a gateway into the “charging for charging” stations. A profit can be made and more and more charging stations can be installed at other locations. Charging stations that will allow all EV’s to use.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “I’m now firmly convinced that he’s going to have to adopt a non-Valley approach to attracting, satisfying, and retaining customers”

    Agreed, and I’ve felt this way for a while. The Model 3 owner won’t really be a first adopter – they expect their car to work like the 2005 Camry they traded in. They expect an undramatic service experience, and that it won’t be needed often.

    To that end, I have concerns about Tesla’s consolidation of all Model 3 functions into a center display. This smartphone approach seems to violate good ergonomic/human-factors/man-machine interface practice, possibly compromising safety in favor of low cost and less mechanical engineering.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      Are people trading in 15y/o Camry’s really the target for the 3? I assume most 3 buyers are coming from small German cars (3/C/A4) and will be used to frequent repairs and arrogant service personnel.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        I think yes and no.

        Some Model 3 buyers see the vehicle as aspirational (like me), and they would be moving up from a more mainstream offering (I have 2 Kias). But as you say, some will certainly be making parallel moves into a Model 3.

        What I didn’t expect – but should have – is how onerous Tesla’s pricing structure would be. The modestly-equipped car I want is priced like the German cars you mentioned – or higher. Their $35k starting price remains fictional, and it offers a vehicle with inferior specs to a Chevy Bolt.

        As for service, almost universally I’ve read accounts of very courteous service from Tesla, even if people were unhappy with the timeline or cost.

      • 0 avatar
        White Shadow

        Have you ever owned a German car or experienced a MB/BMW/Audi dealership? The treatment is typically far better than mainstream American or Japanese dealerships.

  • avatar
    Eggshen2013

    How would Tesla know I am driving for Uber?

    • 0 avatar
      Jeremiah Mckenna

      They won’t necessarily have to. They simply limit you to your use of 400 kWh/yr that they have added into the sales price of the car. The Supercharge communicates with the car and the VIN is one of the first pieces of information passed to the charger.

    • 0 avatar
      01 Deville

      Jack- Your next rant should be against “Journalists” that can’t read news releases. This policy applies to vehicles purchased after 15 December so the whole angle of changing the terms of agreement on a whim comes down. Happens to the best of us…

    • 0 avatar
      smartascii

      Don’t the cars connect to the internet to get updates? It doesn’t seem unlikely that they also report usage and charging behaviors. A line of code telling the vehicle not to accept free supercharger use can’t be that hard to include as a part of an “update.”

  • avatar
    sirwired

    “Let’s say you specifically bought a lower-end Tesla with the intention of providing ride-share or livery services, and you baked the availability and cost of power via Superchargers into your calculation? How screwed are you right now?”

    Well, since the policy only applies to cars purchased AFTER the date of the announcement, I’d say you’ll be fine.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeremiah Mckenna

      The date for the cap on “free/included” use of 400 kWh/yr was Jan 1, 2017, per their web site. So if you go over that limit or use an amount larger than the so called average amount, then it looks like the buyer may not be fine.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeremiah Mckenna

      The date for the cap on “free/included” use of 400 kWh/yr was Jan 1, 2017, per their web site. So if you go over that limit or use an amount larger than the so called average amount, then it looks like the buyer may not be fine.

  • avatar
    Adam Tonge

    “The robots had a 25-year lifespan, and they were only halfway through said lifespan, so we ran them on decade-old desktops that generally had no connection to the Internet.”

    Reminds me of the Amiga that was controlling the heating and cooling for 19 West Michigan schools from 1980 until recently.

    http://woodtv.com/2015/06/11/1980s-computer-controls-grps-heat-and-ac/

  • avatar
    JalopNick

    “This Policy applies to all Superchargers worldwide and all Tesla vehicles purchased, either new or used, whether from Tesla or a third party, after December 15, 2017”.

    Not sure how this is an issue to current owners, it’s just a change of policy going forward and it’s entirely expected given the number of cars on the road today and more so in the future.

    There are plenty of reasons to be concerned with Tesla’s ability to interfere with consumers’ use of their own vehicles (the constant recording and uploading of log data and video from cars etc.). Telling consumers that those buying a car now cannot use the superchargers in an unrestricted manner is not one of them.

  • avatar
    Asdf

    The solution to this problem is obvious. The superchargers need to live up to their (currently extremely misleading) names, and that means they need to be able to charge a Tesla’s battery from empty to full in 5 minutes or less. The fact that this isn’t possible indicates a serious and fundamental flaw in Tesla’s vehicles, which should be pulled from the market until the flaw has been addressed and fixed.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeremiah Mckenna

      But it Does Not say empty to full in 5 minutes. It says it is possible, (under ‘normal’ circumstances) to charge the battery enough to resume your trip. Normal circumstances depend on the age and condition of the battery as well as the ambient temp etc.

      From Teals . com…

      Supercharger Technology:
      Superchargers deliver energy rapidly, and gradually slow down as the battery fills. Your vehicle automatically alerts you when it has enough energy to continue the trip and with the extensive network of Superchargers along popular routes, charging above 80% isn’t typically necessary.

      https://www.tesla.com/supercharger

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      It would make just as much sense (i.e., none) to say that the fact that it’s not possible to refuel gas cars at home, but only at crime-prone gas stations, indicates a serious and fundamental flaw in gas-powered vehicles, which should be pulled from the market until the flaw has been addressed and fixed.

    • 0 avatar
      GoVeg

      It appears you don’t own a Tesla so let me spell it out for you: IT’S LIKE YOUR CELL PHONE–you just charge it up at night when you sleep. Long trips? Then you Supercharge in 20 to 45 minutes after many hours of driving, and you sleep at any of the thousands of hotels that have Tesla Destination Chargers.

  • avatar
    phxmotor

    Charging stations. (?)..!..
    Why?
    Just drag around a sweet little diesel generator on a trailer.
    No range anxiety.
    Just fill it full with fully sustainable vegan veggi oil.
    Or wait… better yet… …grow the veggi oil yourself. Yeah… that’s the ticket.
    Electric cars. Nice.
    Now for the fully sustainable battery chemicals.

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    Who has a job that can buy a Tesla and has the free time and inclination to be a taxi driver on the side?

  • avatar
    dwford

    “California no.” Oh, so that’s what it’s called. I have 2 people in my life that cannot answer directly any question you put to them.

    Question: “What time do you work today?” (obviously asking for a specific time)
    Answer: “The usual.”

    Question: “What do you want for dinner?”
    Answer: “I’m not hungry.”

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Until mid 2015 we still had a few CNC machines that were running off of 7.5 inch floppy drives. Had to change the monitors multiple times but as we phased out old machines we kept the hardware and cannibalized it to keep the survivors running.

  • avatar
    Prado

    “I’ve been racking my brain to think of a pre-electric-era analogy to use here….” I would say the upcoming changes to our tax code, specifically in regards to certain deductions, would be a good analogy to this. Tesla is just closing a loophole that was being exploited. In both instances, The only individuals upset are the ones that expected the handouts to last forever.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    tl:dr, Superchargers are not intended for commercial use.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Yep. And I would bet that somewhere hidden in fine print when you buy a Tesla is such a clause regarding Supercharger use. It’s a pretty standard thing with all software and even with some hardware. Similar to the “track package”* for your car.

      * warning track package not intended for racing, void where prohibited, restrictions apply, not valid in Puerto Rico, your mileage may vary, see dealer for terms and conditions, etc.

  • avatar
    Null Set

    The California No, like the Japaness No, assumes and requires a certain level of social sophistication and intelligence. Which is probably why it remains beyond the cognitive capacities of people from the East Coast. Sois beau et tais toi, Jack.

  • avatar
    nguyenvuminh

    @JackBaruth – I grew up on the West Coast, lived in Northern California from 1991 – 2002, then from 2012 to now, and have not heard of the California No before. But I did live in New England for 5 years and worked in NY City and find it amusing the straight shooters love to speak their mind but don’t like it when they hear someone telling them they’re full of shit though.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    “Did you buy a Tesla thinking you’d have unlimited use of a Supercharger? Sucks to be you. ”

    Did Tesla ever promise *unlimited* use, even commercially?

    (How about the “fill my model X with BitCoin mining ASICs and park it at one”?)

  • avatar
    ejwu

    Tesla already told frequent Supercharger users to fxxk off in 2015.

    https://teslamotorsclub.com/tmc/threads/supercharging-letter-from-tesla-8-13-2015.51482

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    I was reading this piece without first checking who wrote it and then near the end I guessed it can only be, yup, Jack Baruth.

    Seriously, in the age of “unlimited data plan” means you get disconnected and branded as abuse if you watch video, and the day where Netflix over your cable internet is “unintended” usage of internet, you’re surprised that charging your uber car at super charger is considered abuse?

    Anyways, sending a note out and say any car purchased after today is not qualified for unlimited, will probably be the least PR damage and scare people away from buying a Tesla for free electricity.

    I remember Hyundai Ioniq EV had a free charging (up to 50k / year) program recently, but I’m sure they have a non-commercial clause too.

  • avatar

    Well, given that Elon rides with you in your Tesla, they can probably figure out pretty quick who is a commuter and who is a taxi. I don’t know, but may surmise, that your Supercharger at the very least gets some sort of ID back from your car….

    There was an article on Slashdot a while back…about how a programmer bought a Tesla, and, living the dream, began to tinker with the code. He was caught (how’d they know ?), the code was rolled back to OE, and he was locked out of his own car’s programming. I agree that you don’t want end users messing with code…we all know about the games tuners play, but still. The car knew and notified the home base., so clearly there is a lot of data transfer. I guess if you are another car maker, you have to put the car in a faraday cage to reverse engineer it….

    • 0 avatar
      JamesGarfield

      How did Tesla know the programmer had been hacking around in the car’s code? Most likely via the software’s checksum. God may be some folks’ co-pilot, but like you said, Evan Musk rides along in your Tesla.

      The ‘mother-ship’ talks to the Tesla cars via the wireless cloud, and does things in the background such as diagnostics of the hardware and software. In theory it’s a neat function, and lots of other manufacturers also do this with their engines. Well, Momma Tesla knows what the car’s software checksum is supposed to be. It instructs the car to run its own internal checksum, and boom, the internal checksum will be different, which triggers the mother-ship to reflash the code, IE rolling it back to OE status.

      So if this programmer was really sharp, he would have inserted a routine to intercept the incoming checksum generation command, and lie to the mother-ship, and report the old checksum that it used to be prior to alterations. But this is getting into dirty closet hacking techniques, which I guess we probably shouldn’t be talking about here.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    There’s an app for that. There are two Tesla dealers near Tyson’s Corner mall. The mall, gasp, has free chargers. Even the gubmint has gotten involved: https://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/electricity_locations.html. Big Hint: Electric chargers seem thin on the ground in opioid abuse country.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Dammit Jack, update your Industrial Control Systems. I have conducted numerous incident responses on supposedly “air gapped” ICS networks because the air gap is only as strong as your most idiotic employee or because someone set up a back door for the engineers to remote in. In the past couple years I’ve seen NT 4.0 boxes, 2000 boxes, and more unpatched XP boxes then I care to count.

    Look, I understand the engineer mindset, if it ain’t broke and all…but when this does break it will break spectacularly. You don’t pay the IT staff to not patch stuff…make them do their job and test and deploy patches during scheduled down time that doesn’t break stuff. If they cant or won’t fire them and bring in someone who will.

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    The fascinating part of this is the amount of wiggle room they wrote into it.

    Clearly this lets them play the game of letting high-profile individuals that would fall in the high net promoter score category sneak in extra charges but enforce limits on “regular” folks.

    Kind of like how a certain person is able to violate Twitter’s TOS because of who they happen to be.


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