Will Tesla Model 3 Drivers Get Free Supercharger Privileges?

Only 3 days until the Tesla Model 3 reveal and the internet is abuzz with, well, buzz about the new car. This is a huge deal for Tesla and the green car revolution. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, has always said his mission is to show the world how to break its fossil fuel habit. The plan was to start with an expensive luxury car for wealthy early adopters to tool around in. Those people would spread the word about how great driving an electric car can be. That car is the Model S sedan, which is currently outselling all other large luxury cars in the US.

Tesla Supercharger For Model 3 Drivers?

The Model 3 is the next step in the process. Not an entry level car by any means at a starting point of $35,000 and up. But where the Model S is expected to sell in the tens of thousands each year, the Model 3 is the car that Musk says will enable the company to be selling “millions of cars a year” in the near future.

Tesla is masterful when it comes to getting people excited about its products. There are rumors the company may book as many as 100,000 reservations for the Model 3 in the first 24 hours alone. If so, that will put $100 million in the company’s coffers it can use to get the Model 3 ready for production. According to its official reservation agreement, it is not obligated to pay a dime of interest on that money. What car company wouldn’t be thrilled to get a no interest $100 million loan from the general public to help it develop its next generation vehicles?

One of Tesla’s signature features is a comprehensive network of high power charging stations scattered around the world. The brilliance of building this Supercharger network often goes unnoticed. While other companies are standing around waiting for the taxpayers to fund electric car infrastructure, Tesla is using its own money to build the best system in the world. Superchargers mean Tesla owners never have to worry about running out of electricity far from home. Tesla has singlehandedly driven a stake through the heart of range anxiety.

At present, every new Tesla comes with unlimited free access to the Supercharger network. Originally, that privilege was a $2,000 option on cars equipped with the 60 kWh battery, but now that cost is rolled into the price of all its new cars. The question on the lips of many prospective Model 3 owners is, will they get the same access to the Superchargers network that Model S and Model X drivers enjoy?

Today there are somewhere around 75,000 Tesla automobiles in the United States. At certain times and in certain locations, Tesla owners have to wait in line to get their cars hooked up to the charging equipment. What happens when a few hundred thousand Model 3 drivers show up at those same busy Supercharger locations? Will they be able to plug in whenever they need to as well?

Tesla has not made any official announcement about this yet. The speculation on the internet is that Supercharger access will be an extra cost option for Model 3 owners. Or it might be included if customers order an upgraded option package like dual motors or a larger battery. But what of the entry level driver who wants the lowest priced Model 3 but still wants to take the occasional road trip? Will they be forced to search for a public charger somewhere in East Overshoe and replenish their battery alongside LEAF and i-Miev owners? Oh, the horror!

The company could offer Model 3 drivers Superchargers access via a monthly subscription service, but someone who takes only a few trips a year may not want to pay for charging time they will never use. Supercharger locations do not currently have any mechanism that allows drivers to pay for the electricity they get. Perhaps Tesla will develop a smartphone app that will allow those who opt not to pay for unlimited Supercharger access to simply pay electronically whenever they use the Supercharger network.

If Tesla has taught us anything, it is that it takes exquisite car of its customers. Model 3 owners will be no exception.

Photo credit: John Engates via Flickr. Some rights reserved


Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.