Tesla Model 3 Owners Get No Free Supercharger Access


Originally, all Tesla owners were entitled to use the company’s Supercharger network of fast chargers free. Roll in, charge up, roll out any old time and as often as you like. After a few years, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced during an earnings call that Superchargers were intended for those travelling away from home and not for daily use. There was some dark muttering from the Tesla faithful, but life soon got back to normal.

Tesla Supercharger location

Recently, Tesla announced new owners would be eligible for up to 400 kWh of free charging a year — enough to drive about 1,000 miles, although certain cars purchased through the company’s owner referral program still qualified for a lifetime of free Supercharger access.

And what about the Model 3? How much free Supercharger time would its owners be entitled to? Tesla never really said much about that. But a few of those cars are out driving around on public roads now and the answer appears to be “none.” As in “not any.” That’s according to Model 3 owner PTFI, who tweeted about his recent experience using the Tesla Supercharger located at the popular Harris Ranch facility located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The amount charged for electricity at a Supercharger facility is fixed in each state in the US. The customer is charged for each minute of use and the rate varies according to the state of charge of the battery in the car at the time. In PTFI’s case, the 43 kWh of electricity used is enough to drive about 170 miles.

For comparison purposes, a conventional car that gets 25 miles per gallon would need roughly 7 gallons of gasoline to go the same distance. Assuming a price of $3.00 a gallon (Californians tend to pay more for gas than the rest of Americans), that works out to $21.00 to travel the same distance — nearly three times the cost of electricity.

So don’t be too disappointed if you are a Tesla Model 3 owner waiting for your car to be delivered. Your cost of electricity will still be much less than your neighbor with that gasmobile will pay for fuel. Plus, every mile you drive will be emissions free. The icing on the cake is that Tesla is committed to getting the electricity for its Supercharger locations from the greenest source available in the area. Eventually, the company intends for all of them to be solar powered.

Some may carp that Tesla should have been more forthcoming with its Model 3 customers. Finding out about the change from a Tweet instead of directly from the company does not reflect well on Tesla’s customer relations policies.

But Tesla continues to expand its Supercharger network aggressively. Owners in North America have access to many more fast chargers than drivers of any other electric car. So weep if you must for the end of the Tesla free charging era, then pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and go drive your Model 3 with pride knowing you own the most coveted automobile on the planet.

Source: Teslarati

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  • Tesla isn’t a new company, anymore- it’s been around for well over a decade. The Model 3 customers are what it will have to depend on to survive past the initial hype phase (which we are still in), and there are precious few of those around who actually have cars. Cutting them off now, before they even have a chance to be disappointed by long wait plans and/or the car itself is stupidulous. Tesla seems to be self-destructing, I hate to say. 🙁

    • bioburner

      Cutting red ink is probably the driving force behind dropping free charging. $10 to charge up your battery doesn’t seem like much but look at how many cars will be lining up and how many times they charge over the life of the car and it adds up to a chunk of cash which Tesla can not afford now.

      • Why not “now”, though? They’ve never been profitable, before, so why is now any different?

  • kvleeuwen

    Free charging was always unsustainable.
    Next step: CCS/Chademo stalls at Superchargers, open for every brand.
    At least, that is what makes most sense if Tesla is still serious about accelerating EV growth in general.

  • Epicurus

    Tesla should make prepaid supercharger access an option on the Model 3 and future models. Tesla knows what it costs. Anyone know what it costs Tesla per kWh with the solar panel produced electricity?

    • fred smith the deplorable

      And at 35 mpg & $2.25/gallon, it costs about $19.30. $0.20/kWh for a business (non-home) charger is pretty cheap as you noted. “Free” charging is pretty rare in AZ, and commercial charging is more expensive that gasoline. My home rates run from $0.07 to $0.21. Best-case scenario for me is a $700 annual savings, so “fuel savings” is only a small part of the total operating costs of EV vs gasoline vehicles.

      • Epicurus

        $.21/kWh? Why is electricity so high in AZ?