Tesla is hoping to make this bitter pill a little easier to swallow by giving new buyers 400 kWh of free Supercharging credits annually. This is equivalent to roughly 1,000 miles of emissions-free driving. Once that 400 kWh is exhausted, Tesla says that it will charge owners “a small fee” to continue using the network, which has grown to include over 4,600 Superchargers globally. Although the company doesn’t elaborate on how much customers will pay, it will “cost less than the price of filling up a comparable gas car.”
“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,” wrote the Tesla Team in a blog posting. Tesla says that this “economics change” allows the company “to reinvest in the network, accelerate its growth and bring all owners, current and future, the best Supercharging experience.”
This news also means that the people who pre-ordered the entry-level Model 3 will have to pay to use Superchargers. This news shouldn’t come as a complete surprise, as Elon Musk confirmed earlier this year that the Model 3 wouldn’t have unfettered access to Superchargers:
Free supercharging fundamentally has a cost. The obvious thing to do is decouple that from the cost of the Model 3. So it will still be very cheap, and far cheaper than gasoline, to drive long-distance with the Model 3, but it will not be free long distance for life unless you purchase that package.
Given the relatively low $35,000 price of entry for the Model 3 and the fact that hundreds of thousands of these vehicles will be queuing in front of Superchargers over the next few years, it makes sense that Tesla would take this approach.
For those that see that is an unabashed money grab on the part of Tesla, the company contends that “our Supercharger Network will never be a profit center.”