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.
You're right, this is becoming an issue. Supercharger spots are meant for charging, not parking. Will take action.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 11, 2016
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.