Will Model 3 owners have unlimited free access to the Supercharger network?

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

  • K A CHEAH

    PLEASE CHECK LATEST MESSAGE FROM TESLA’S WEBSITE:- https://www.teslamotors.com/model3

  • Gary

    Please don’t make the supercharging free! With free charging, the stations will be filled by local people charging for free when they could have charged at home. Add a fee that is slightly higher than the home going rate. I would rather pay a little and get a station on a long trip.

  • Gyrogordini

    Great post, and right on the mark. A small charge (oops, sorry!) is quite appropriate. Free = potential abused privilege, IMHO.

  • nordlyst

    Finally! I’ve been arguing for a price slightly above the at-home one for a long time, but have seen only a ton of articles discussing whether or not it would be an option when buying the car (or purchased later since all cars are ready in terms of hardware – cheap to do since the superchargers basically connect directly to the battery). Only now does someone else ask whether it would be good for Tesla owners if they are free.

    Obviously the number of locations and access points will also need to increase. But a price just above ordinary rates effectively discourages abuse, while at the same time giving us nearly zero EXTRA cost compared to when we charge at home.

    Fortum has a point, too. (I’m a Charge & Drive user in Norway!) Charging by the minute penalizes people who stay on the DC fast charger to trickle-charge until full. The stations typically have Type 2 flexi-chargers as well, so those who really need to fill up all the way (say to go over the mountain) are encouraged to switch to that when the rate drops below 22 kW. Then they charge as quickly (slowly?) on the cheaper-per-minute Type 2 as they would on the fast DC point, because the battery rather than the charger is now the limiting factor.

    There’s one particular story that illustrates this well. Someone arrived at the station finding it was occupied by a BMW i3. The owner was not in sight, but the SoC indicated by the station was 84%. So the arrival waited, thinking it’d soon be his turn. 45 minutes later the i3 was at last finished and its owner perhaps notified – at least he showed up. That’s the sort of situations you’d like to avoid…

    So Tesla could set a price per minute that results in a price per kWh on a par with home rates as long as you charge at full speed. Once the rate begins to fall, the price per kWh begins to rise. That’s a very desirable property for optimizing station use. And if they, unlike Fortum (who charges far, far more than the home rate even at the best of times) display the running price per kWh as you go along, fewer people will behave like that i3 owner and pay silly prices for the last five percent of capacity.

    Apart from that I hope they are sensible enough to take payments online. There’s no need to complicate the experience by having the station collect payment. Just charge. If you don’t pay within two weeks you lose supercharger access. The station of course already knows which particular car it’s taking to, as evidenced by a few owners who were asked by Tesla not to abuse the free charging..!

  • dogphlap dogphlap

    I don’t know what will happen but what I’d like to see is free charging for long distance travel but limited access for local charging and or a payment scheme for local charging since not all owners (or potential owners) will have off-street parking and a power point for home charging.

    • nordlyst

      One person’s local is another person’s long distance. And even city chargers need to be available when you use them as waypoints.

      Setting a price that’s never lower than charging at home solves the free-rider problem, while still being incredibly cheap. Pricing per minute means you get out of the restaurant to move the car when it’s charged rather than twenty minutes later when you’ve had dessert. The price per minute should perhaps increase with every minute after 90% to help ensure this! Otherwise it’s easy to imagine cars that aren’t even charging taking up 30% of the capacity simply by standing in the way.

      Wireless charging and self-driving would be the optimal solution as the case could move itself away from the charger as soon as the target SoC is reached.

      • dogphlap dogphlap

        It’s easy enough to make up rules, I suggest that any charger less than 40 miles away (make up your own number) from your residence and that of the car should be available for free charging and not considered a local charger.
        For local chargers it gets more difficult, maybe allow 5 uses per year for free. Tesla knows the VIN of every car that charges and hence all relevant details.
        Maybe as Teslas start to be purchased more by folks who cannot readily charge them at home those people could sign an agreement to have their credit card charged once a month to cover costs incurred at local SuperChargers plus 10%. There is no need for card readers, Tesla cars and SuperChargers are on line anyway so the whole thing could be seemless. Remember Musk was a co-founder of what became PayPal, he knows how to implement this stuff.
        Just my thoughts but no more valid than yours or those of anyone else.

        • nordlyst

          > I suggest that any charger less than 40 miles away (make up your own number) from your residence and that of the car should be available for free charging and not considered a local charger.

          You mean exactly the opposite of what you’re saying. 🙂

          Of course everyone is entitled to an opinion and in the end Tesla is free to decide. But it’s interesting to discuss the pros and cons of different models.

          Your suggestion should mostly take care of freeriders. At least I think few people would bother to go more than 40 miles just to avoid the small cost of charging at home.

          I still prefer a payment model though. Economics 101 says anything that is free tends to get abused. It could be as simple as people who do need to charge, but not fully, chooses to stay connected longer because it’s free electricity. The experience in Norway is very clear. They started out charging by the kWh, and it led to hogging. So now everyone has switched to per-minute pricing, so the electricity gets more expensive the slower you charge. That means you disconnect when the battery begins to approach full, and spend the last twenty minutes (or more!) on Type 2 if you really need to fill all the way up.

          • dogphlap dogphlap

            Thanks for the correction and thoughts. I edited my post i.e. changed “less” to more. For late edits I put a footnote in to explain what I did. As to fee for charge in all cases, I don’t really care that deeply but if it becomes necessary I’d rather it just put a deduction on my credit card, no need for a card reader. It could just come up on the car’s 17″ display as could the cost per hour while charging. One of the advantages of having a system that will only work with its own vehicles is the ease that a fee for charging could be implemented without any additional hardware required either at the SuperCharger or in the vehicle.

  • Bart Lubbers

    In Europa Fastned builds and operaties fastcharging stations for all electric cars, including Tesla at € 0,35 per KWH

    • nordlyst

      I think we’ll say in Europe. The EV market on Jupiter’s moon isn’t so well developed.

  • Ramon A. Cardona

    Superchargers are not free but pre-paid at the point of purchase. Since most Tesla owners drive locally this issue of local drivers is moot. They will go when there is a station near. If Tesla does not expand its network, the main selling point shall not be. That is the correct approach since, fee or not, the network is the fastest way to charge. They will be busy anyway.