Will Tesla Offer No Charge Supercharging as an Option

Will Tesla Offer No Charge Supercharging as an Option

For some, I expect enough to consider, not having to pay for supercharging has value beyond the money saved. It gives you a degree of freedom if the cost of fuel for a long trip is a factor in deciding to make the trip. I am sure you could put a price on No charge Supercharging that would make sense to Tesla.

Some other interesting ideas is offering free supercharging when sales slow or Tesla is trying to hit a production number like end of 2016.

Another thing I think could happen, a few years from now is, Trade your Free SC Tesla for a new one with Free SC. Tesla could also decide to drop Free SC from cars they resell. | January 21, 2017

My guess is no unlimited free Supercharging in the future. But I wouldn't say impossible. The only people that might pay extra now for it are those most likely to overuse it. So perhaps $10,000 might be the right price - a point where very few would buy it. With few takers, it isn't worth Tesla's time to create such as new program. | January 21, 2017

I'm referring to new car purchases, not those that already have lifetime Supercharger privileges.

tes-s | January 21, 2017

I don't think so. Tesla will come out a loser with this as an option since only people that would come out ahead would buy it.

AoneOne | January 21, 2017

Nissan has their promotional no-charge-to-charge program (within limits). Tesla has 1000 miles free per year. Each company already uses some free charging as part of its marketing and Tesla's plan will probably change over time as the EV industry becomes more competitive.

The return of free, unlimited supercharging seems very unlikely, but it all depends on the competitive marketplace.

Haggy | January 21, 2017

Assuming that most people use about 400kWh/year, the new way will work well. For somebody who uses double that amount, it might cost $40-$80/year extra, depending on where they live. Tesla is already accounting for almost all customers who charge at home and use superchargers on the road, and the new way is far cheaper than the earlier way of charging thousands of dollars to enable supercharging.

Somebody who drives 15,000 miles per year, uses about 250 wH/mile on average to get something close to the EPA rating, and charges at superchargers exclusively, might save $375-$750/year with unlimited charging, but that's compared to paying piecemeal. In other words, it might cost $750/year (minus the allowance) to charge at superchargers in California, but would cost $375 (minus the allowance) to charge at home and use superchargers only for the free miles, assuming EV California rates are in effect. So a person who kept the car for six years and paid $2000 for unlimited supercharging would save $2250 compared to charging at home, but that person also would have had a 2400 kWh allowance over that time, saving about $240 if it's used. So that means an average driver in California could pay in advance, do all supercharging at superchargers for six years, and save ten dollars.

The flaw in the calculation is assuming that people get rated range. With my own average use, it would be 28% higher. So I'd save $2880 by charging from home, minus $240 for what I would have gotten anyway, leaving a $640 difference over six years. That would make the new way a bit over $100 more per year than paying $2000 for an unlimited package.

If I make a 400 mile trip from the Bay Area to Los Angeles, and start with a full charge, as much as 322 miles of that might be accounted for by the initial charge. If I stay at a hotel with a destination charger, the same would be true on the way back. I'm having a hard time coming up with trips that the average driver would take where the cost of charging would change a person's mind. Even if I have a 200 mile battery, the trip would be 400 miles round trip in terms of the miles that use supercharging. That's about 1/3 of the allowance, and with no remaining allowance a round trip of that length would cost only about $13-$26. I don't see many people wanting to spend thousands of dollars up front to avoid it.

For road trip use, the cost with or without the allowance won't come close to affecting the likelihood that anybody who could afford a Tesla would go, based on the cost of charging. Even for somebody who does 100% of charging at superchargers, it's not clear that it's worth it. Maybe for a taxi service it would come out cheaper, but the cost of supercharging and paying by the kWh is so much cheaper than paying for gasoline that even a taxi service would benefit greatly from the current plan.

Blue85DCalifornia | January 21, 2017

I doubt Tesla will offer unlimited supercharging again; it was a great perq to get some initial buyers over the "where do I charge?" hump, but as the lines in the LA and SFO areas show, consumers abuse unlimited things.

bill | January 21, 2017

I think the thing everyone is missing is the emotional part of the decision. Some people put a much higher value on something that is free then it would be if they actually paid for it,

I would be the people "abusing" the super chargers are paying more for the electricity in inconvenience then they are saving. Why are they doing it, because they are getting it for free. But say they live 10 miles from the SC and their having their significant other drive them to the sc then they are using up about an hour of their time for "free supercharging" Also unless they own two teslas they are paying for gas for the other vehicle. While I can't prove it I would bet that over time people will end up realizing they are being foolish working so hard to get free supercharging and will end up changing at home.

bill | January 21, 2017

Another example is several people have said they bought a Tesla or upgraded their Tesla by Year end in order to get Free Supercharging. I am one of them. As a lot of you know I bought my S90D in September and traded in December to get HW 2 so I could still have free SuperCharging. I had planned and would have been much better off financially if I waited until HW2 cars were significantly superior to HW 1 cars and traded up then.

It is fairly common for people to pay more for something to have the piece of mind that they guarantee the cost. It is why people buy service contracts. Service Contracts are a very lucrative business especially in cars because a high percentage of buyers never have covered repairs that come close to what they paid for their Service Contract.

I amy be wrong here but I bet a lot of money could be made by selling "Free Supercharging". I can here the sales pitch now:

"while it coasts $$,$$$ it is really only $$ extra per month over your 8 year loan. Don't you think you will use more then $$ of electricity a month? And most of those people after 6 months to a year will be charging at home because they are sick of going to the Super Charger.

AoneOne | January 21, 2017

"I would bet that over time people will end up realizing they are being foolish" it's been years now and they still haven't learned. I'm not holding my breath.

We are not ignoring the emotional aspect, but Tesla had to balance the appeal of "free" with the dual constraints of finances and crowding in anticipation of a tripling of the Tesla fleet over the next few years. So, they do provide free supercharging (to satisfy the desire to get something for nothing), but not unlimited free supercharging.

These forums are filled with strong emotions on these topics, but the response to this change has generally been approval. To me, this indicates that Tesla has decided well. | January 21, 2017

Keep in mind Tesla still gives every new owner 100 kW/h of free Supercharging every year for life. So even new owners get something for free every year they own the Tesla! The best I ever got from a dealer was a partial tank of gas when I bought the car. After that, they used my gas during the many service visits!

bill | January 21, 2017

Don't get me wrong. I agree Tesla had to drop free supercharging. The way they did it was a win win in my opinion. It's the old raise the price, give advanced notice and watch the sales spike.

There is no question we payed for Free Supercharging and Free Supercharging on a $35,000 car is going to cut into the margins. It also helps deal with the supercharging lines.

What I am suggesting is there is a market for a Free Supercharging product. Price it to make a profit and if it sells raise the price. If it does not then I am wrong.

bill | January 21, 2017

What I meant to say above was if it sells enough to create a problem raise the price

Teslagator | January 21, 2017

Given that it takes about 1 KWh to drive 3 miles, if an electric car owner wanted to drive say 15,000 miles per year they would use about 5,000 KWh per year. The cost to install enough solar panels to generate 5,000 KWh per year (about 3 KW or 10 panels) is about $5,000. The panels are expected to last more than 30 years at .5% degradation per year, meaning that if I pay to install $5,000 of solar panels today I will have enough clean electricity generated to drive about 15,000 miles per year for 40 years- let's call it 450,000 miles. To use simple round numbers rather than splitting hairs I'm not including the .5% degradation in the calc because the panels will likely still be producing in years 31 and beyond and that production will offset the 7.5% output lost to degradation over the 30 years in the overall value proposition I am presenting using simple figures.

To drive a gas vehicle 450,000 miles over the next 30 years, assuming say an average 34.6 mpg over that period, would use about 13,000 gallons of gas. At average cost of gas at $5/gallon over the same period that would mean a $5,000 investment in solar panels today would avoid about $65,000 in gas purchases over the next 30 years. Use your own figures for the gas mileage you expect and cost of gas over 30 years with inflation and present value costing and so forth, but there is no doubt that investing in enough solar panels today to operate your electric car for the next 30 years is the way to go.

Now if everyone in America knew this there might be a really large interest in this arrangement one would think. But then the problem of having a place to install the panels (say for apartment dwellers or house renters) and how to take them with you as you might move about over the next 30 years becomes apparent. So it initially sounds like a great model but how do we get around the two challenges of having a place to install them and taking them with you over the long term?

The answer is to have a company that will 1) install them 'for you' somewhere permanent connected to the grid if you pay for them (e.g. utility scale solar farms such as those near Mojave, Ca), and 2) develop a nationwide fast charging network as widespread and common as gas stations have become over the past 100 years where you can take the power from your panels off the grid from anywhere at anytime. Yes there are transmission costs and eventually perhaps electricity storage infrastructure costs and the cost to install and maintain the fast charging network to pay as you go over the next 30 years, but this model would still work very well. Today the transmission fees to get power on the grid and take it off hundreds of miles away are under $.03/KWh in California. So if a developer of a renewable energy and nationwide fast supercharging network added $5,000 to the cost of an electric car to cover installation of the panels on the grid and say $1,000 for the unit contribution to installation of the charging network (just a guess) and then passed on the cost of transmission and charger system O&M it would be about $6K up front plus $.03/KW fee as power is taken off the grid via the fast chargers as you go.

So if the aforementioned driver did 15,000 miles per year the prepaid cost for 450,000 miles of renewable electricity supplied through a nationwide fast charging network would be $6K added to the price of the car for capital and $450 per year for transmission fees and O&M.

Wouldn't it be cool if an electric car company could set this up? Wait...there is one that kinda is...Tesla. But all this wavering about trying to restrict supercharging in the future and browbeat everyone to charge at home is needless. Embrace the business model of unrestricted supercharging at stations as or more common than gas stations...add the capital cost for the panels or windmills to the car (10% or less of the car price) and charge the $.03/KWh at the 'pump' if needed or let a new buyer prepay for 150,000 miles ($4,500) when they buy the car if they wish.

This is very doable...utility scale solar farms are going up fast and prices are even lower than the residential system price of $5K for 3KW mentioned above. Give the masses what they want just like the car and oil companies did 100 years ago to proliferate the spread of IC cars to the hundreds of millions we have today.

Don't fight the EV car owners desire to have cheap and easy supercharging everywhere in every neighborhood and let them decide when its convenient to charge at home or drive a few miles and get a supercharge. I do both today with 4 supercharger installations within 15 miles of my home and it works great.

Build and expand greatly the supercharging net work. and include the price in the car or make it an option to give the buyer the choice...don't, don't become a bureaucratic drag Tesla and whine about owners using superchargers as much as they want. Charge us for it using the adept business model above and build, build, build renewable energy on the grid at utility scale and thousands and thousands of superchargers so millions or tens of millions of Tesla owners can supercharge near them all the time all they wish just like IC car owners have easy access to gas stations everywhere.

Don't kill the goose that laid the golden egg- your original free supercharging model is the right one and I'm sure it is scalable per the above as you roll out hundreds of thousands to millions of EVs in the future. Do what the oil and car companies did...give the customers what they want.

Teslagator | January 21, 2017

Typo's 450,000 miles for 30 years at 15,000 miles per year of course, not 40 years.

SUN 2 DRV | January 21, 2017

Take the $2,000 hypothetical cost of prepaid supercharging, put $2,000 onto a prepaid VISA card and link that to your Tesla Supercharger account. Voilla, that plus Tesla's 400kWh per year baseline will give you supercharger use at no additional cost for a very long time. And keep in mind that the original free SC use plan only lasts as long as you own that original CAR. My bet is that your prepaid VISA will likely last that long too.

Teslagator | January 21, 2017

400kwh per year is only 1,200 miles. I average 30,000 miles per year. via the model above I installed 4.2 kw solar on house at same time I got car and would have no problem using that to charge the car but I can't do it at 120 kw per hour at home and if I roll home with 30 miles range and want to head back out in an hour on a short local trip that might use say 60 miles around town I don't want to have to wait a couple of hours to do it so I cruise over to a supercharger 5 miles from the house and do 15 to 20 mins and I'm good. It's collectively cheaper to invest in more distributed superchargers that all can use and that push power at 120 kw per hour than everyone spending the same or more for much slower level 2 or slightly better home chargers and sometimes an extra EV meter to get power for the car at less than in my example PG&E's $.40/kwh for all power above their ridiculously low 200% of 'baseline'.

tes-s | January 21, 2017

@bill - service contracts and all-you-can-charge supercharging are two different things.

The purchaser of a service contract is buying "insurance" - prepaying for repairs that may or may not be needed. The company makes out because they know (or think they know) the expected cost of repairs, and can charge a premium price above that. The purchaser gets peace-of-mind - they know that regardless of what problems may arise, they will not have to pay more.

The purchaser of supercharging is not buying insurance - they can calculate how much supercharging they will use over the lifetime of the car (taking into consideration the possibility it gets totaled), and compute the net present value based on assumptions about future usage and rates.

Someone who lives on Moloka'i is unlikely to supercharge - ever. Someone who drives cross-country 12 times a year is likely to use a lot. If Tesla charges a flat rate for everyone, the Hawaiian is unlikley to purchase it while the cross-country tripper would.

Supercharging 100,000 miles per year is somewhere around 30mWh. At $.10 per kWh, that is $3000 of electricity a year. If the life expectancy of the car is 10 years / 1M miles, and annual interest rate is 2 percentage points higher than the rate of increase of the cost of electricity, Tesla would have to charge around $27,000 to break even.

Or, without prepaid supercharging the owner would have to put about $24,000 into an interest-bearing account at time of purchase to cover the cost of supercharging (assuming they get 400kWh per year included).

robert.s.bjekich | January 21, 2017

The principal of adverse selection says you should not provide a service without controls on the costs because the only buyers will be those who intend to use the service excessively. Unlimited lifetime supercharging is a service without any control on costs. This feature was provided to early buyers because people were concerned their vehicle maybe limited to local use and thus the premium cost of a Tesla could not be justified. We now know a Tesla is a very versatile vehicle good for local and long distance trips. The risk of this early marketing feature was justified to jump start sales but can not be made indefinitely..

In California future buyers will pay $.20 per KW at superchargers which is very competitive with gasoline or diesel fuel costs. A Tesla vehicle is far more fuel efficient than their fossil fuels competitors and thus the business risk of adverse selection can not be justified for the long term health of the company.

bill | January 21, 2017


The funny thing about all this is while I went out of my way to get free Supercharging I already have a 8KW Panel setup which I installed over 7 years ago. I actually put the largest system I could because I figured some day I would have a Electric Car. I was thinking a pluggable Hybrid because I didn't envision someone would build a Supercharging Network this quick.

To add to the situation I am installing 2kw more capacity this spring. That is as far as I can go right now because If I go over 10KW I loose the ability to generate and sell SRECS (These are credits you get for generating Solar Power in some states that the Power Companies buy in order to avoid fines for not generating enough renewable energy).

I paid $45,000 for a 8.2 KW system. The additional 2,1 K I am adding is $10,000 (I know that is more then 10k but there are some creative ways to eek out the extra 0.3 kw). Hmm cost of the system is the same 7 years later what happened to dropping prices.

In my case the systems pay for themselves in about 7 years given the federal incentive and SREC program. MA has one of the better SREC programs

Installing Solar makes so much sense that there are companies that will install you a system, sell you the power generated at a discounted rate below the Utility and in 10 years give you the system for almost nothing.

So what I do not understand is why are so few homes are solar powered 8 years after solar panels became a can't lose proposition in MA?

Why would anyone allow a company install a system on their property for a discount on their power costs when they can borrow the money over 10 years, make the payments with the savings and revenue the system generates and save even more money that way?

I believe the answer is the vast majority of people will take the simplest path to achieve the goal even if it is significantly more expensive, Installing Solar Panels in MA is very easy. You sign a contract, the system is installed and you reap the benefit. In 7 years i have not spent one cent on maintenance and there is nothing I have to do to keep the system running. It just sits there and produces power any time the sun is out.

Sell free supercharging to the public on its own and you would get some buyers.

Sell a car and offer an option for free supercharging whose cost gets built into the car payment and you can show how that the increase of the car payments is less than what you would have paid for electricity and you will sell significantly more IMHO.

ST70 | January 21, 2017

only Tesla knows....soon, maybe, never...

bill | January 21, 2017

Actually I think service contracts and prepaid supercharging are very similar. Both are insurances that you know what the cost of something in the future will be. Both will be calculated so that the seller will make money. Many will pay the cost knowing it is most likely more then it would have ended up costing them. And it is possible the seller could take a bath if things turn out as not expected. In the Service Contract case parts could become much more expensive ten thought. A car could require way more maintenance then was predicted.

bill | January 21, 2017

I think the problem is the average person does not think outside the box. There are always way more reasons not to do something then to do it. Why so many investors turn down Colonel Sanders when his idea made tons of money.

Am I saying what I propose will be a guaranteed gold mine? No. Am I saying it will be as simple to implement as I describe? No.

What I am saying is I think the Idea could work and Tesla has the infrastructure and the market to make it much more practical to implement.

How many of you guys would have jumped on Elon's band wagon when he first proposed it. I think history shows there were way more detractors than believers that it was possible.

bill | January 21, 2017

Oh and this Idea has nothing to do with why Tesla built a SC network and why it was successful.

It is about repurposing something to make it more successful.

I suspect the SC Network Tesla is building will morph into something we can't even concieve of now.

Haggy | January 21, 2017

Based on the solar argument, I didn't need to get past the first paragraph to realize that it's about twice what Tesla might have charged for an unlimited supercharging option, but would last for 30 years rather than how long I own the car. I'd also be able to charge from home, at no extra cost once the system was installed. If I'm going to prepay, I'd be better off having Tesla show up at my house and add solar panels. It would be far more cost effective than paying for lifetime supercharging.

Yes, there's some value in security. Knowing that I'd get billed, don't have to pay at the pump, and that a charge at a supercharger might cost five dollars, assuming I'm at about half charged when I get there, and leave at 80% in the state with the highest rates, I'd have quite a bit of security. When I bought the car, I wanted security. I didn't know if I'd take any road trips at all, and figured that I'd probably fly for most long trips, but didn't want to be in a position where I could get stuck far from home. I also didn't know if a 60 battery would be enough. Getting an 85 addressed both. These days, getting a 60 that could be upgraded, and that had an allowance that might cover all charging, and that the cost of extra charging was very low, I'd have far more security than I have with an ICE, where a station might be closed at night.

If I bought a different car in the large luxury segment, and got 18 mpg overall with mixed driving, then if gasoline dropped to $1.25/gallon it might be break even. Where I live, gasoline prices are far above average. On the other hand, if it will cost me about $500/year either way for fuel/power, then if gasoline dropped to 62 cents per gallon, I'd save perhaps $250/year and I wouldn't get a car that I'd like less for such a tiny savings. That's not even factoring in tax credits or other benefits. When I used to cross a bridge on my normal commute, I would have saved about $600/year in tolls alone by having an EV. Free gasoline would have been a more expensive commute.

bill | January 21, 2017

Oh and this Idea would bring in a lot of capital that would fuel the expansion of SC at a much faster rate than if fueled by cars sales alone and pay as you go cash.

And think of what you might be able to do with such a network once it is in place. Obviously you would be selling lots of charging to people who did not want to pay up front and I would agree that is the majority of future car owners.

As one famous entrepreneur used to say all the time "Just saying! "