Tesla scraps free supercharger access, now charges a small fee

Article by Christian A., on January 16, 2017

New Tesla vehicles will have to pay when charging at any of the carmaker’s Supercharger stations once they exceed their annual limits. This comes as Tesla Motors announced revisions in rules regarding the use of its Supercharge network not only across the United States but also in other countries.

Currently, Tesla Motors has 5,085 Superchargers spread across 795 Supercharger stations in several places around the world. Most of these Supercharger stations are located in the US, mainland Europe, the United Kingdom, Japan and China. With the revisions on the rules, new Tesla vehicles ordered after January 15, 2017 will be granted 400 kWh (around 1,000 miles or 1609 km in range) of annual Supercharger credits. Once a Tesla customer has used up his or her credits, succeeding usage of the Superchargers will come with a small fee. The 400 kWh allowance is non-cumulative, which means that any unused charging credit in a year can’t be rolled over to the next year.

While the 400 kWh annual credit may seem too little, it is fair to note that more than 90 percent of charging by Tesla owners are done at the comfort of their home or at work. Likewise, Tesla intended these Superchargers for long-distance travels (range anxiety eliminator), which at around 1,000 miles is already aplenty. Tesla has observed that many customers access the Superchargers even for short-distance local drives, making the queue and waiting time at the stations less desirable.

As much as possible, Tesla owners will be billed per kWh although other customers could be billed per minute in some areas. Per-minute billing is dividing into two tiers, as differentiated by the charging speed. When the charging speed is at or below 60 kW, or when a Supercharger is being shared by two cars, Tier 1 applies. When the charging speed is above 60 kW, or when a Supercharger is used by only one car (120 kW), Tier 2 applies. Tier 2 is twice as costly as Tier 1, but allows customers to charge their vehicles faster.

The rates within North America differ by state while rates outside the region differ by countries. For example, the above-the-limit charging rate across California is $0.20 per kWh, while in New York, the rate is $0.19 per kW. In Michigan, Tier 1 charging is billed at $0.10 per minute while Tier 2 charging costs $0.20 per minute. In Texas, Tier 1 and Tier 2 billing rates are pegged at $0.08 per minute and $0.16 per minute, respectively.

These revisions in Supercharger rules don’t affect Tesla vehicles ordered on or before January 15, 2017. This means that these Tesla models could still access its Supercharger stations for “free” (charging fee is already included in the price) for the lifetime of the vehicle. However, Tesla would bill customers of these older models with idle fees if they fail to disconnect their vehicles from the Supercharger once the charge session has been completed. A customer has a minute to disconnect from the Supercharger as after that an idle fee of $0.40 will be billed per minute.

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Topics: tesla, electric car

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