Summary Thread: Missteps Aside, Is SuperCharging Still a Great Deal?

Summary Thread: Missteps Aside, Is SuperCharging Still a Great Deal?

There's a lot of diverse forum chatter touching on different parts of this topic, so here's a single thread to summarize, and focus comments.

Much happened in a short time, causing considerable confusion, but here's a synopsis of where it stands:

Battery Hardware Charge Fees

85 Standard Free
60 $2,000 Free
40 N/A N/A

Because TM decided to simplify Supercharging by making fill-ups free, they had to adjust their configuration policy. Unlimited free fuel is kind of an amazing deal, and it's difficult argue otherwise. To make this work financially, the company had to charge something more for the SC on the less expensive model.

This caused heartache for some folks who had signed contracts for 60kWh cars before the SC details had been worked out. The previous website and contract language could both be read to mean the 60kWh Supercharging had no further cost, but now that's not true. That seems unintended but was awkward, so here's what TM did for contract holders to smooth it over:

1. An anxious customer was released from contract on request (Not TM official word - but according to a forum post)

2. You can change your battery pack choice if you wish (40-60-85).

3. If you do choose the 60KWH pack, you get a $1,000 discount as a goodwill gesture to acknowledge the policy transition.

Things didn't all happen perfectly, but that was the net result.

GB and the company did seem to take all of this seriously, and worked overtime on a weekend to respond to 60kWh buyers' email concerns. The website was also updated on the weekend to make clear the new pricing policy.

As the ruckus begins to settle, it helps to take stock of what folks think so far.

It may not have been graceful, but I personally think TM has tried hard to provide extraordinary value, to respond to those affected by changes, and to be true to the ethics that supporters expect of them. They may not have succeeded everywhere, but they did seem to try.

To give them useful feedback from the customer perspective, please use this thread to boil it down to a ranking on these specific metrics:

A. 85kWh Value - With the SC and free charging included, how good a deal is this?

B. SC Option Value - At 2K for SC plus free charging on 60kWh, how good a deal is this?

C. Communications - How did they handle informing customers before and after they had to make changes?

D. Ethics - Were you happy with their transparency and fairness?

Use a scale of 1 to 10 to rank them. (10 is best)

Please limit comments in this thread to a ranking, and at most a one line 'tweet' next to each rank. That'll actually help TM quantify what we think.

Mark K | September 30, 2012

A. 10 - No other car comes close.

B. 7 - Need to be near an SC and use often for 2K to pencil out.

C. 4 - Wrong website/contract language, timing errors, and not thinking like customer would.

D. 8 - Honestly trying to deliver value. Insensitive emails, avoidable with disclosure at SC event.

Mark K | September 30, 2012

A. 10 - No other car comes close.

B. 7 - Need to be near an SC and use often for 2K to pencil out.

C. 4 - Wrong website/contract language, timing errors, and not thinking like customer would.

D. 8 - Honestly trying to deliver value. Insensitive emails, avoidable with disclosure at SC event.

(posting glitch)

ChasF | September 30, 2012

A. 10 - no argument
B. 4 - like predicted battery range, depends on several factors
C. 3
D. 5

dborn | September 30, 2012

A. 10
B.5. - but only if you are planning to use the chargers a lot. How many people would contemplate cross country trips in an ICE with a tank capacity of 260 miles (before EPA certification).
C. 2. What communication? Certainly not at the supercharger launch event.
D. 1. Should be included at no charge for those who had signed purchase agreements at the time of the change, and 1/2 price for those on the waiting list for more than a year.

I am a sig reservation holder, so the issue doesn't apply to me at all.

jerry3 | September 30, 2012

A. 10 -- Fine deal. Thank you Tesla Motors. This is the gold standard. Continue at this level.

B. 4 -- Not a good deal unless you are in CA. It might be many years before there are SCs elsewhere.

C. 2 -- When you have to explain and make excuses you did a poor job.

D. 6 -- They appeared to break their word. Trust is low. A 6 because there is likely no malfeasance.

DouglasR | September 30, 2012

A. 10 -- This is a fabulous deal.
B. 3 -- Unless you live in CA and plan to drive long distances, this is buying a pig in a poke.
C. 2 -- I agree with comments above.
D. 3 -- For a small set of buyers, this looks to me like a breach of contract, inviting a class action lawsuit. TM promised these buyers that SC hardware would be included. If the hardware is not functional, it is not included. TM needs to make that right for those who have a fully executed MVPA.

heems | September 30, 2012

A. 10.
B. 3 - Unless in you live in CA the rest is pie in the sky.
C. 2 - Simple "Equipment Included / Access Fee TBD" prior to 9/24 and Free/$2k (80/60) access fee update after 9/24 is all they had to do instead of this mess.
D. 2 - Tesla needs to paint the WHOLE picture (but leave TBD holes for $$). People can then make their own decisions and not feel the rules of the contract changing every week. "Oh we have to pay for this other thing today?" Be up front. Say data plan is needed, but $ TBD. Warranty service needed, but $ TBD, etc.

Beaker | September 30, 2012

A. 10
B. 8
C. 7 (see note below)
D. 8 (see note below)

Note: I'm answering in light of the following message from George:

Mark K | September 30, 2012

To All - please do consider GB's news when weighing in.

rmitchum | September 30, 2012

+1 Beaker

A. 10
B. 9
C. 8
D. 10

WolfenHawke | September 30, 2012

A. 10
B. 10 -- free fuel for life, common!
C. 8 -- good recovery GB
D. 10

AnnK | September 30, 2012

A.I guess 10. No change in expectations
B.2. It's not really free gas for life. I still plug in at home 99% of time. Would use only for trips. Free supercharging is what made this electric vehicle a realistic alternative to a regular car.
C.1 no advance warning just a change on web site. When I emailed no explanation or apology just reiterated the cost.
D.1 not pleased. I am feeling like Tesla is like any other car maker. Bait and switch

Sudre_ | September 30, 2012

After this recent announcement....

A. 10 can't do better then included for free.
B. 9 even if I never use it, the resale value will be better.
C. 6 This could have gone better but the communication is extremely clear now.
D. 8 Transparency drops two points here. Fairness is 100%.

nickjhowe | September 30, 2012

A. 7 - There's no such thing as 'free'. The cost must have been built into the price of the 85kWh car. Am I going to use $2k worth of SC? No way. Esp. as I probably won't see on in FL for 2 years! Would I have been happier with $0 up front and a per-use charge? Almost certainly.

B. 3 - for most people. Let's assume TM were to charge 30 cents a kWh for per-use SC; $2k = 25k miles. How many people are going to do 25k long distance miles? v. v. few.

C. 7 - reasonable recovery from terrible mess. Elon's bumbling ad libbed SC announcement - something they've been hyping for months - was painful.

D. 10 on transparency (relative to every other car company), 7 on fairness.

Re. GB's latest communication - they've done right by the folks who've configured their cars already. All other registration holders were still misled and are still hit with a take-it-or-leave it choice.

Brian H | September 30, 2012

I think there is a misstatement/misconception in the base assumptions. Elon explained at the "reveal" that Solar City would install arrays more than adequate to service all the units at once -- on average, across the whole network, with some stations not actually having panels. And would make money from selling the excess, this permitting free charge-ups.

The logic of this is clear. Solar City covers the cost of the electricity used out of their Feed-In Tariff revenues. TM has no cost for those charge-ups. The $2K has nothing to do with usage. It only covers the incremental work necessary to make the SC cabling in the 60s functional (this was pre-figured in the 85s, so is not an issue with them, but the decision to include SC h/w in all 60s was made late, and the pricing could not be stretched to also cover the fiddly final tuning for each car.)


Mark K | September 30, 2012

OK Brian H, net of your comments, care to give your rankings?

nickjhowe | September 30, 2012

@Brian H - understand your point, but we need to separate cost from price. I agree that the cost to TM is up front in the hardware/software/install/config/testing of the equipment in the car. How they choose to recover that cost is a different issue.

The decision about whether to charge an up-front fee or whether to recover the costs from a per-use SC charge is completely within their control. Just because Solar City might be making money on the feed in and hence it is 'free' doesn't mean it has to be free to us Model S owners.

Clearly per-use vs. up-front has significant implications on cash flow, but still completely within TM's control.

Mark K | September 30, 2012

Thanks for rankings Nick. Please start a new thread for other topics guys, so we can give TM a high grade feed here. Thanks,, Mark

Brian H | September 30, 2012

Obsolete. GB has weighed in with new info; all 60s with extant paperwork on configs get free activation etc., just like the 85s.

Mark K | September 30, 2012

Thanks for you views Brian. Those who still see the value in helping TM understand customer perceptions are welcome to keep weighing in.

DouglasR | September 30, 2012

Well, I submitted rankings above, before GB's post. So I would modify my input as follows:

C. goes from 2 to 7. It took a while to get the communications straight, but he admitted his error and provided a cogent explanation. What other car company would do this?

D. goes from 3 to 9. I would have been satisfied to see them enable the hardware, but then charge for access to the network if and when the customer elected to use it. Instead they enabled the hardware and provided free access (for those with signed contracts). This may be hard on those with reservations but no signed contracts, who are now offered a fairly expensive option, but it is not unethical.

Superliner | September 30, 2012

A.= 5 (hit or miss depends on how long it takes to build out the infastructure) I suspect that 95% + of my charging will be done @ home or other locations stores restaurants etc. that I frequent where Superchargers will not likely be built in the near future if ever so the value is minimal for many including myself.

B.= 2 If configured with 60kwh pack (see A above)

C.= @Jerry3 +1 Agreed they got the cart in front of the horse

D. @DouglasR Agreed "D" where all those like me who have yet to "sign" watched the price go up by $2k on my car. I'm thinking that the Supercharging issue should have included "all 60kwh reservation holders" in que "when they finalize / sign"

Any who reserve after the information was included in the design studio would know from the beginning about the "fees" and therefore not left feeling like they were victims of the old bait and switch. That said it does clearly state that almost anything read on Teslas site is subject to change without notice (standard fine print stuff)

Robert22 | September 30, 2012

It wouldn't be a bad idea for George to run any future changes that are soon to be announced and are potentially controversial, by 5 or 10 of the most respected and prolific posters here on the forum. We all know who they are. This pre-vetting to an informed sample group could easily alert the company to most hidden landmines before they blow up on the world stage. I bet they'd all be willing to contribute for a t-shirt!

Mark K | September 30, 2012

Superliner could you please clarify numerical rank for D. Thanks

Mark K | October 1, 2012

Robert22 - Interesting thought. Some very big companies do that.

TM does know where those pro bono guys live.

OK, you got to go OT, now cough up some rankings, TM needs data. SC option price feedback (B) in particular is quite valuable.

dondennis | October 1, 2012

A. 10
B. 7 - requires a lot of SC usage to balance cost
C. 3 - George B's communications have been great in clearing up systemic poor communications
D. 9 - I believe they are striving to do the right thing!

rd2 | October 1, 2012

A. 10 - amazing deAl
B. 9 - if you will use the SC once every other month, I think it will be worth it over 10 years.
C. 7 - growing pains expected
D. 9 - never seen a company this transparent and responsive.

MB3 | October 1, 2012

D. Transparency is not what we need or want in a company. Transparency is what caused this mess. TM should never have made promises on things they wanted to do for us. Things they were working on with good intentions. Too many loyal fans get wounded when, despite TM's best efforts, they cannot do everything they hoped they would be able to do. I don't like it, but it seems better if they just say, "we're working on it and we'll let you know when it's ready"

Slindell | October 1, 2012

+1 mboedigh

Tesla is over-communicating, and it's setting expectations that are biting them.

Superliner | October 1, 2012

@ Mark K

Numerical rating for Item "D"
Fairness = 3
Transparency = 9
Overall = 6

Brian H | October 1, 2012

People tend to miss, ignore, or discount the caveats and qualifications on hoped-for features, too. A "maybe" is read as "probably" which is good as "definitely"!

I suspect/expect that most "broken promises" will be un-broken in a couple of years as experience and resources accumulate.

Mark K | October 2, 2012

Thanks Superliner. Would be grateful for your cooperation with thread Brian. Thanks.

Vawlkus | October 2, 2012

A: 10
B: 10
C: 5
D: 10

Reasoning: A and B boil down to effectively unlimited range driving for FREE (in terms of fuel costs). How can anyone say that is NOT a good deal? Sure it assumes the network gets completed, but so far Tesla has proven they're in for the long haul.
C gets a mediocre because while I believe people didn't interpret what was posted correctly, Tesla also wasn't as clear as they could have been. Thus I put the blame at 50/50 between Tesla and its customers.
D Tesla saw the outcry, realized they had screwed up and ON A SUNDAY fixed it. Props to them for doing it, although to be fair, it WAS at least partially their own mess to begin with.

Brian H | October 2, 2012

A 10
B 9
C 5 - Internal communication lags etc. permitted a couple of days of misinformation ("all-inclusive") to get into websites and contracts. Maybe a head or two should roll. Maybe the "pace" of developments at TM is on the ragged edge of manageability.
D 10

jerry3 | October 2, 2012

D is now 10. Good job George and Tesla. The rest remain the same (A=10, B=4*, C=2)

As the SC network gets built up "B" will increase. 4 is what it is today.