Tesla Motors Inc. next year will stop providing unlimited free access to its fast-charging stations for new buyers of its electric vehicles, a move intended to help pay for the charging network and the launch of a cheaper and higher-volume electric sedan.
Tesla has gained notoriety for free access to proprietary stations that can recharge its $66,000 and up cars in far less time than a conventional charger. While the company’s investment in the “Supercharger Network” has been steep, it considers the cost a replacement for the hefty sums most auto makers dish out for advertising or sales incentives.
The Silicon Valley auto maker introduced the perk four years ago and expanded it to Europe and Asia. But buyers of vehicles ordered after January 1, 2017, will have to pay for charging after using 400 kilowatt-hours of charging annually, equal to about 1,000 miles of travel.How much will it cost to re-charge? "Less than the price to fill up a "comparable gas car." Whatever that means.
The Supercharger network has 734 locations world-wide, according to the company. Car sales growth has strained the network’s capacity, and Tesla has worried about its ability to offer service.
Tesla has said it has 373,000 reservations for the Model 3.
“The increasing number of Model S and Model X vehicles, as well as the significant increase in our vehicle fleet size that we expect from Model 3, will require us to continue to increase the number our Supercharger stations significantly,” the company said in a quarterly filing this month. “If we fail to do so, our customers could become dissatisfied, which could adversely affect sales of our vehicles.”
Mr. Musk first hinted at the company’s annual meeting in 2015 that the charging network could change, noting that some people were “abusing” the system by using it for daily charging rather than for quick fill-ups between cities. This was causing congestion at the stations.
“There are a few people who are quite aggressively using it for local supercharging,” he said at the time. “We’ll sort of send them just a reminder note that it’s cool to do this occasionally, but it’s meant to be a long-distance thing.”More at the link.