In a move that’s been seemingly inevitable, and seen coming from a mile away, Tesla has finally decided to nix its unlimited free Supercharger access offer to new vehicle buyers.
The change, as expected, doesn’t do away with free Supercharger access completely. Instead, it limits free use to new buyers to 400 kilowatt-hours (kWh) a year — enough to meet the long-distance travel requirements of the vast majority of users. In other words, long-distance travel charging on the Supercharger network will remain essentially free for Tesla owners.
And, to be clear, those owners who already have free unlimited access will apparently retain it.
Given the way that some owners have been using the Supercharger network for normal everyday charging rather than just long-distance travel, and the fact that some people don’t have access to charging facilities at home (apartments, condos, etc.), the move makes a lot of sense. Otherwise, with the upcoming launch of the Model 3, these charging issues were set to become a much bigger problem, as many Model 3 buyers likely don’t own their own homes.
So, when do the new changes go into effect? January 1st, 2017. That’s the cutoff date for the free unlimited Supercharger access offer to new buyers. Those who want free unlimited access will need to place their order before the new year, and take delivery of their vehicle before April 1, 2017.
As far as costs, Tesla doesn’t seem determined to make money on the service. As the press release on the matter claims, the Supercharger network will never be “a profit center.” So, pricing should be reasonable — and “cost less than the price of filling up a comparable gas car,” according to the company.
Here’s the full press release for those interested:
An Update to Our Supercharging Program
Four years ago, Tesla introduced the Supercharger Network – the world’s fastest charging solution – to enable convenient long distance travel. Today, more than 4,600 Superchargers allow over 160,000 Tesla owners to drive across the continental U.S., from the Arctic Circle to the south of Spain, and across all of the population centers in China and Japan, among many other places. Supercharging has even helped owners drive their Teslas around the world.
We’ve designed our network so that all customers have access to a seamless and convenient charging experience when they’re away from home, as our intention has always been for Supercharging to enable long distance travel. That’s why today we’re announcing a change to the economics of Supercharging – one that allows us to reinvest in the network, accelerate its growth and bring all owners, current and future, the best Supercharging experience.
Ensuring Use for Long-Distance Travel
For Teslas ordered after January 1, 2017, 400 kWh of free Supercharging credits (roughly 1,000 miles) will be included annually so that all owners can continue to enjoy free Supercharging during travel. Beyond that, there will be a small fee to Supercharge which will be charged incrementally and cost less than the price of filling up a comparable gas car. All cars will continue to come standard with the onboard hardware required for Supercharging.
We will release the details of the program later this year, and while prices may fluctuate over time and vary regionally based on the cost of electricity, our Supercharger Network will never be a profit center.
These changes will not impact current owners or any new Teslas ordered before January 1, 2017, as long as delivery is taken before April 1, 2017.
The Road Ahead
Just as you would charge your cell phone, we believe the best way to charge your car is either at home or at work, during the hours you’re not using it. For travelers, the Supercharger Network has become a powerful, unique benefit of Tesla ownership. As we approach the launch of Model 3, this update will enable us to greatly expand our Supercharger Network, providing customers with the best possible user experience and bringing sustainable transport to even more people.