Tesla’s Supercharger network is one of the brand’s greatest assets – a valuable benefit for customers and a strong selling point against the (so far, mostly theoretical) competition. Since the Model 3 hit the stage, one of the hottest questions has been, will 3 buyers get the same free Supercharging privileges that S and X owners enjoy?
The issue has been thoroughly discussed on the Tesla Motors Club forum, one of whose members received the following statement from a Tesla spokesperson:
“All Model 3 will have the capability for Supercharging. We haven’t specified (and aren’t right now) whether Supercharging will be free.”
Tesla’s Communications department confirmed to Charged that this is correct.
We’ll have to wait and see, but it seems unlikely that Tesla will end up offering free-for-all charging, and that’s probably for the best.
The downside for the company of making an open-ended commitment to free charging is obvious. Tesla has, after all, designed its cars to last for quite a long time. Would it be wise to give away any chance of future revenue from the network the company has worked so hard to build?
In fact, free unlimited access for all may not be a good deal for Tesla customers either, as experienced EVers at the Tesla Motors Club and elsewhere have commented. Some of the most popular Supercharger locations are already congested, and adding a quarter million 3 drivers to the user base surely won’t contribute to a quick and hassle-free charging experience.
We value what we pay for, and services that are free tend to get abused. Even a nominal charge would encourage drivers to use the Superchargers when they really need them, and possibly to take better care of them. Drivers who can afford a $35,000 new car aren’t likely to mind paying ten or fifteen bucks if they get convenient access to a fast charge when they need one.
That availability when needed is the main benefit that users want from a fast charging service, Rami Syväri, of Norwegian network operator Fortum Charge & Drive, told Charged in a recent interview. Fortum believes that charging per minute is best, because it incentivizes drivers to use chargers for the minimum amount of time needed, which increases the availability of each station.
UPDATE: Elon Musk says supercharging will not be free for Tesla Model 3 owners
Sources: Gas2, Tesla Motors Club