Tesla Supercharger Overtime Fee Added To Curb Misuse


Well, that didn’t take long. Last week, a Tesla owner tweeted that some people were parking their cars at the Tesla Supercharger facility in San Mateo and leaving them plugged in for hours while they went off to have lunch, or go shopping, or take in a Sharks game. Such boorish behavior is the hallmark of stupid people. Apparently owning a Tesla does not automatically prevent a person from being a complete idiot. Elon Musk was quick to pick up on the tweet and promised corrective action would be taken.

Yesterday, it dropped a velvet hammer on its owners. Starting immediately, a fee of 40 cents per minute will be assessed if a car is not moved promptly after charging is complete. The driver will get a text message when it is time to unplug. 5 minutes later, the new fee will begin. Whether paying what amounts to a fine of $24/hour will be enough to motivate people who can afford up to $160,000 for an automobile remains to be seen.

Here’s how Tesla describes its new policy in a blog post: “The Tesla app allows owners to remotely monitor their vehicle, alerting them when their charge is nearly complete and again once fully charged. For every additional minute a car remains connected to the Supercharger, it will incur a $0.40 idle fee. If the car is moved within 5 minutes, the fee is waived. To be clear, this change is purely about increasing customer happiness and we hope to never make any money from it.”

Prior to this announcement, a debate was going on in the Tesla community about how best to deal with charger hogs. Many felt the company could do more to educate owners about proper Supercharger etiquette. Others thought leaving rude messages on windshields in DayGlo orange spray paint would be more effective. Tesla already uses valets at some of its busiest Supercharger locations to move cars that are finished charging so others can be plugged in.

Some day, when the company figures out how to connect and disconnect cars automatically, Tesla could use the Summon feature built in to all Autopilot equipped cars to move the cars around autonomously without the need of a human valet type person. If wireless charging ever gets powerful enough, it would make moving cars in and out of charging locations easier. Any car that can guide itself form LA to NYC without a human driver should have no problem moving around a parking lot on its own.

Tesla agrees. The blog post says, “We envision a future where cars move themselves once fully charged, enhancing network efficiency and the customer experience even further. Until then, we ask that vehicles be moved from the Supercharger once fully charged. A customer would never leave a car parked by the pump at a gas station and the same thinking applies with Superchargers.”

The company is busy building more Tesla Supercharger facilities to meet the needs of many new owners when the Model 3 goes into production. The new policy is an intelligent, low key way of giving people an incentive to do what they know they should do anyway. It’s a wonder that so many would even think they could plug in and just walk away. It just goes to show that ignorance is equally distributed among all segments of society.


About the Author

I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I’m interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.

  • derac

    Yet another EV hassle. Wait around for your car to recharge twiddling your thumbs. No, you get something to eat because you’re going to be there awhile. But don’t dawdle or now you pay. Look I get the EV thing and the Tesla S is a nice, nice car but people are people and the more EVs hit the road the more this stuff is going to happen. It’s just going to take a while for the infrastructure to catch up.

    • 小杜 (xiao du)

      Isn’t it the other way around?

      No need to go somewhere to charge the EV, you keep it topped up at home.
      Whereas with an ICE vehicle, you need to spend 20-30min feeding it at least twice a month.

      • imoorenewton

        All for EV, but filling up take a max of 10 min unless you have a defective inlet.

        • 小杜 (xiao du)

          Drive to gas station. Wait in line. Fill. Drive off.

          At *least* 20-30 min.

          vs refill EV.

          Come home, plug in. +- 2 min.

      • Steve Hanley

        True. But some people do use Superchargers as upscale parking lots and charge when not absolutely necessary. The social rules for proper EV charging behavior are still evolving.

        • Santiago Draco

          It’s not even a social rule, it’s common sense. Charge and get out. It’s not something that needs to evolve really… well maybe the rule doesn’t need to evolve but the idiots abusing the system need to evolve….

      • Rosco Pico Train

        If you are spending 30 minutes fueling up a car, you’re doing something wrong. It takes me no longer than 5 minutes start to finish.

        • 小杜 (xiao du)

          How long did it take you to drive out of your way to go to the gas station?

          I stand by the guesstimated time.

          • Rosco Pico Train

            I do what most people do and usually fill up the old planet killer ICE car while I am going to or coming home from work. One single right hand turn into the station, 5 min to fuel up, right turn back out on my way to work.

      • derac

        What if you’re not at home but on the road ? More infrastructure will help his problem but quick 5 minute charges are the real answer. Make it as quick as ICE fill up and the problem goes away. It will take time but we’ll get there.

    • Bullshit. The problem here is people parking and leaving their cars here, when they are fully charged. This move will help people, because it’ll free up the spaces.

      I do think the idea could be tweaked a bit though. Make it a 10 minute buffer, but increase the fees by an order of magnitude. A rich person won’t care about such a small amount of money. And 5 minutes is short. I’d do 10-15 minutes, and then $5/min.

      • Michels

        you can move your car at 95% and the last 5% takes the longest to charge. plus you can monitor your progress so the 5min rule is fine.

    • thejumpingsheep

      No because once you have scale and a bunch of chargers the problems go away. People forget how gas vehicles began. There wasn’t a gas station on every corner and the government spent the equivalent of $500 per barrel to get companies to go get oil never mind subsidies to car companies.

      EV are much better than combustion and at some point, people will look back at these days and think that we are living in a second dark age. You do realize that we all lose about 10-20 years of life from car emissions right? Im not so worried about the global warming (it will just shift where crops can be grown) but car emissions are much worse than cigarette smoke. We are just so used to living with combustion that we consider it normal but take away all combustion and with modern medicine we should have an average lifespan of 100 easily (not the current 77ish) and our aging would slow significantly as well (we would basically look much younger for longer). But particulates from cars cause a enormous amount of havoc to our internal chemistry. I get that we needed cars but its time to do something for our kids and not be like the Boomers.

  • rookie test123

    Young Tesla owners are generally major assholes. This behavior doesn’t surprise me at all.

  • Santiago Draco

    Seems pretty simple to me. If you leave your car unattended beyond full charging your account should incur a penalty that will disable charging for x period of time. So the next time you need a charge you are going to be SOL. They are making other drivers wait… well then they should be made to wait. An eye for an eye and all that.

  • Bruce Goren

    This has nothing to do with “stupidity” and everything to do with selfishness and the sense of entitlement that goes along with being able to afford a Tesla model S or X. Tesla owners deserve each other; bravo to Elon Musk for being the adult in the room and coming up with a reasonable incentive for civility.

  • trudyscousin

    What do you call something that’s even more superficial than a first-world problem?

  • Momojoe

    Maybe charge (no pun intended) a heftier fine and direct that money to build more chargers…. ?? Meeee .. ? Who am I kidding ?? The place I work for, has reserved sports for charging electrics and it’s always full cuz those asses leave the car in there like a “personal parking spot”…

  • trejtt

    $24/hour as a fee for hogging the spots is counterproductive: anyone who would park like that in the first place does not care about the public perception of being such a prick; if they have to pay $24/hour they will undoubtedly think of it as “paid for”, like it was just a not outrageously expensive parking spot that is now legal for them (you can easily pay $20/hour for a parking spot in most cities depending on the area).

    Making the fee $10 per minute, with the 5 minute waiver, and towing the car after 15 minutes overage might work better. Even that is questionable, though, since people who are those kind of pricks probably spend that much on the car to show how much money they have, not because they care about the environment or anyone but themselves.

    • thejumpingsheep

      You are just letting your anger talk. $24 per hour is extremely rare to find except in incredibly busy areas during major events. Hell even during Comicon there was plenty of $20 all day parking and that event is chaos. $24 per hour is not that common, not even in busy parts of LA.

      • trejtt

        I’m not “angry”, Friendo, what an absurd accusation.

        Also you seem to think I claimed $20/hour parking was the norm when I clearly did not.

  • Daily Beatings

    Five minutes is too short. Most people probable go get coffee while they’re waiting. Should be 15 minutes, which gives people a reasonable amount of time to grab your stuff and head back to the vehicle.

    • thejumpingsheep

      I agree… I assume the app probably signals the owner a few minutes ahead of time so its really not just 5 minutes. I assume that is the case.

    • Jim Mooney

      Valets on roller skates who deliver coffee and donuts to your car is the solution ;’)

    • Steve Hanley

      I think the Tesla blog post says it starts alerting the driver when charging is almost complete, so there is probably around a 10 minute window when he or she should be thinking about getting back to the car. Then the 5 minute window kicks in and the fee is waived if the car is moved within that 5 minutes.

      So that really gives people about 15 minutes to get their act together. I suspect Elon will monitor this and adjust things as needed. If there are certain individuals who just continue to abuse Supercharger access, I rather think they will be given a “time out” until they adjust their behavior.

  • dummydude000

    Any initiative to truly curb this behavior, the fines have to be at least $100 an hour and it needs to be $50 after the first 10 minutes and $75 after the first 30 minutes. Without a meaningful penalty, I doubt anything will change. $24 is a drop in the bucket for the owners of these vehicles because they spend $100s in lunch and $1000s in shopping while they are charging their vehicle. Mr.Musk, I hope you understand this better than anyone else.

    • whywakeup

      It occurs to me that you’re right, it wouldn’t be a big deal to a model S driver, and those that currently abuse it will continue.

      But when there are tens of thousands of middle class Model 3 drivers, well you know $24/hr would move the needle.

      I like Tesla a lot, they’re awesome. But I’m a bit cynical that this solution is solving a future problem of the 3’s rather than current issues. I think the rich jerks will continue to do what they want, but middle class jerks will be prevented from adding too much to the problem.

      Hopefully Tesla drivers are generally not jerks.

    • Joe Viocoe

      A lot of upper-class people actually are fairly stingy with their money, so even a small amount of lost money can provide great incentive to move their car.

      It doesn’t really hurt their wallet, but their pride demands that they not be losing money for no reason.

  • Jim Mooney

    It confirms my saying: No matter where you go, no matter what you do, there’s always an asshole ;’)

  • Hundie

    Thankfully Apple isn’t making EVs yet. If it’s anything like a year old iPhone, and update will cause the battery to drain, then power down on you when you need it most.

  • Geo T

    I think a lot more people buy these cars for speed-thrills and the hip factor than the ostensibly green reasons they were created for. Just look at the self-satisfied videos made by owners. Rich people have never lacked for self-absorption.

    • Joe Viocoe

      Um, sounds like observation bias.
      People who buy cars for ostensibly green reasons… Probably don’t make a lot of YouTube videos.
      The practical, is often boring.

  • Jem Thomas

    One would have thought this would be an ideal opportunity for the autonomous functions in these cars to come into play combined with a some sort of valet service to cover the disconnection once the car is fully charged.
    Beter minds than mine can surely come up with a solution based around this concept.