A Model E battery will cost about $12k. I saw this figure a few times on the internet, so it must be true...
Tesla will enter into partnerships with other automakers and perhaps others in the auto and energy industry.
Other automakers will not be interested in the free charge idea and will not wish to subsidize it.
Free Supercharging will be reserved for the S and other expensive models where the costs for charging are pre-paid.
Tesla will offer quick-charge technology, especially effective with the Model E's smaller battery. Maybe a full charge of that battery in 20 minutes?
Buyers of the Model E and variants will prefer to get the car cheap and pay a modest fee for charging, if there are lots of convenient and attractive places to do this, rather than pay something like 25% more for the car up front and have to locate rather remote Supercharging facilities.
Buyers of cheaper models will not expect free charging and will be glad to pay for recharges that are about one-third the cost of a gas refill.
So, Tesla basically lends out the battery to customers, both to Tesla buyers and to those who buy BMWs with Tesla batteries. Tesla and partners build a huge network of for-profit KwikCharge stations.
If the Model E is charged up on average every 250 miles at a cost of $15, Tesla makes $12K every 200,000 miles, enough to pay off the battery costs. Of course the batteries get cheaper, so newer models pay off faster and faster as time goes by. And older cars need more frequent charging and so as time goes by, they pay off faster as well! There is also the considerable recycle value of the battery which can be repurposed for stationary use, etc.
Gas stations make little off gas, even the $80 fill-up. The mini-mart is where the money is, not to mention car washes and other services. Yes, and the Tesla Cafe where In 'n Out Burger is put to shame with the mighty Electro Burger. Sadly market research shows that the Musk Burger name cannot be used effectively. The fries would be fried in organic duck fat of course...
Tesla could literally give away batteries to other automakers, but retain the charging rights. There could be no quicker way to universal adaptation. Of course BMW, etc might well want to get in on this one would think...as perhaps would a chain of traditional gas stations. One would think Shell would want to make money on both electric and gas driving.
Many on this forum express their distaste for the gas station model. They are thinking of the basic smelly oil-stained station we are all used to. A charging station would inherently be clean and odor-free, and could be more parklike, rest stops really. They would have by far the best restrooms and food in the industry, great landscaping and be attended and safe at all hours. The 20 minute full charge would ensure that the mini-mart would do a good business. They would be famously great and attract more and more people to electric driving.
If you could combine a charge and a carwash without electrocuting anyone...
Consider various trickle charger options, out back by the dumpster, for owners of other electric cars. Make money off of everyone and promote electric car driving. Sell Teslas as they see dozens of Teslas get charged up and go down the road and they are still there getting 13 miles per hour hooked up to the Post of Doom...
The chain of Supercharges is always going to be useful. They are a reward for Tesla owners who buy the profitable expensive models. And these flagship models will always be important for Tesla's image.
What I like about this general idea is that it doesn't require magic batteries or really any new technology, yet becomes even more profitable and useful as new technology unfolds and as sales of electric vehicles expands. It does not seem to be something that would ever become irrelevant or unprofitable. It makes the adoption of Tesla batteries a deal that cannot be refused really. If the charging network was in place and the motive power was free, why would anyone make or buy ICE vehicles (although there will always be special purpose models of course)?
I mentioned the idea before that Tesla could essentially evolve into a battery and charging company, supplying and servicing other brands, which is a heck of a lot easier than making and selling the cars themselves. Surely they would always make at least a few flagship models to keep up the magic, but think instead of hundreds of giant battery plants making batteries for about every make and model of cars, solar storage, etc. and running a huge international chain of compelling charging stations. It is almost a perpetual motion business model. Better than razor blade or printer ink schemes...
Of course this turns into a world monopoly and would attract the ire of every sort of government and eventually would be broken up. Wouldn't matter to Musk. By then his goal of converting to electric driving would be done, Tesla would have trillions in the bank and Musk would have the dealership rights on Mars anyway.