Supercharging Hidden Charge for 60 kWh S's?

Supercharging Hidden Charge for 60 kWh S's?

I found some red flags in the press release and Elon's presentation on the Supercharger. The question that is raised is this: Is the Supercharger hardware included in the price of the 60 kWh cars or not?

The press release has a footnote that says, " Supercharging hardware is standard on Model S vehicles equipped with an 85kWh battery and optional on Model S vehicles equipped with a 60 kWh battery." To read it yourself go to the press release and find the footnote about mid-page, just above the "About Model S" subheading. The link is:

In his presentation at the event Elon said, "For cars that have supercharger hardware installed, and that will be the case for the 85 kWh pack, and a small incremental charge for 60 kWh pack you'll be able to travel for free..."

Here's the link to the video. The quote starts at about 7'50" into the video:

I just signed my contract for a 60 kWh S yesterday, and I was counting on being able to take long trips that use the Supercharger. I hope that I misheard and misread. My Tesla configuration rep. is looking into the discrepancy, as it didn't make sense to him either.

By the way, I have strong confidence in Tesla and bought my first TSLA stock on today's dip.

Stu B

sergiyz | September 30, 2012


MVPAs for 85kw look exactly the same, i.e. it says SC hardware is included, nothing about SC use.

bb0tin | September 30, 2012

A proposed solution for the reservations made between the TBD changing to included, and the announcement of the $1K charge to activate supercharging. Tesla could install the hardware as they currently are doing but now state that it will be a $1000 one-time activation fee if it is ever to be used. I expect that the Tesla S software can detect that a supercharger charge is about to be used. The car can then say that there is a one time $1000 activation fee. This could be OK'd on the spot via the 17" screen and paid later.

stuberman | September 30, 2012

Since starting this discussion topic almost a week ago I have read everyone's post and I have thought long and hard about the topic. I have a few observations and assessments:

• Engineering/Manufacturing driven vs. Marketing Decision:
After all the discussion it is still not clear to me how much of this decision was driven by engineering and manufacturing costs and to what degree it was a marketing decision. George has referred to the configuration that needs to be done on the 60 kWh cars and yet it is not apparent to me why this differs from the configuration that needs to be done on the 85 kWh cars. Does anyone have any insights into why engineering and manufacturing differ on the two cars? I suspect that there is some difference as it was only recently that we were told that the 60 kWh cars would get access to supercharging.

• Customer Opinions Differ by SC Station Rollout Schedule and Distance from Them:
Basically, think they will be able to use these stations in the near future are more willing to shoulder the cost of SC than those who are not. Personally, the Gilroy SC station will make my life easier so I have signed up for the option even though I'd prefer to get the same deal as the 85 kWh owners.

• PR:
Yes this announcement was a PR nightmare, but most of us still love the Model S and are willing to look past this hiccup as we believe that we will be getting an insanely great car. Tesla, just don't throw us any more curveballs. We prefer fastballs right down the center of the plate.

Stu Berman
P 4562

jbunn | September 30, 2012

Bb0tin - im furious about this as a contract holder, but had they taken the approach you suggest, instead of the "you have 10 days to decide, and it can never be enabled, even though all the hardware and software is there", I would find this perfectly acceptable. I never expected free charging for life. But I dont live in an area with sc, and I have no guarentee the entire system will ever be built. What you suggest would alleviate a lot of pain.

DouglasR | September 30, 2012

bb0tin +1

It seems to me that if TM needs to do additional work during production to make the SC hardware functional, then the SC hardware is not "included" as provided in the MVPA. If they make that hardware functional, but then charge an additional $1,000 for lifetime use of the SC network, then I would agree that TM has met its obligation under the MVPA and treated the 60kwh purchaser fairly.

For those 60kwh purchasers who have not signed their MVPA, TM has just made the SC hardware a $2,000 option. It has reserved the right to do this.

I cannot believe it would be that costly for TM to enable the SC hardware for all purchasers who have specified SC hardware in their MVPA, and to give those purchasers the option of purchasing SC access at a later time.

Docrob | September 30, 2012

If they do announce those with an MVPA get the upgrade for free will the next thread be "reservation holder just about to confirm furious at missing out on special treatment"?I really feel Tesla is in a lose lose position here, I don't envy their position at all.

DouglasR | September 30, 2012


I don't agree. There is a difference between having a signed contract promising SC and just having a lot of hype about some future feature. Think about it: having "Supercharging Included" in your MVPA is WORTHLESS unless TM takes the extra step of enabling it. It is not only worthless to the customer; it is also worthless to TM, assuming TM is to be believed that the feature cannot be enabled later. So doesn't it make sense for TM to enable a feature that it has already committed to in the MVPA, with the likelihood that some number of purchasers will thereafter enable SC access at $1,000 a pop? I don't think those who have not signed a contract are in the same position at all.

lajollan | September 30, 2012

I agree with ChasF. SC at 2k makes no sense to anyone outside of California at this time. I think this move by Tesla makes it easy for me as a 60kwh person to cancel and let this all shake out. In a year there will not be a long wait for the car and pricing will be more transparent on all other remaining punch list issues. Maybe there will be improvements in the batteries also. I want the car, but I do not NEED the car.

rjones | September 30, 2012

What the heck are you doing? Blow after blow to your loyal followers and committed customers........ease up and treat us like you really wanted to create (as you state) not just a new car but a "new experience in car buying" . This is worse than a used car lot experience. First the maintenance, now another upcharge for supercharger configuration.

Are we going to have an upcharge for the electric motors next.....since it does not specifically state that anywhere?

What will the 17" screen data plan cost? Another $1,000 a year?

I chose the 60KW because of range and the supercharging listed as "Included". Never expected to have a useless supercharging system. (Especially after committing $80K for the car). Now we find out, "yeah we said that to get you on board but never really meant it." We also said, and trained our sales force to say that this is a "virtually zero maintenance car" to find out it will cost more than any other car out there year one (so much for warranty).

After talking up Tesla for the past couple years to all who would listen, and as a current contract holder, I am left shaking my head and quite frankly embarrassed for Tesla and those who believed me.

I am in a service business and know that you do what it takes to make and keep happy customers, especially those that support you from the beginning when you are trying to get going and grow. Give clear expectations and deliver on them. I read all your info before making my decision and now I wonder what I really bought into.

jerry3 | September 30, 2012

lajollan -- In a year there will not be a long wait for the car

I'm not so sure about that (unless you're just talking about a multi-year wait). When cars get to be seen and driven I expect there will be many new purchasers. Also almost everything about pricing and options will be known at that time so those later reservationists won't have the surprises that the early reservationists do.

jerry3 | September 30, 2012

rjones -- I am in a service business and know that you do what it takes to make and keep happy customers, especially those that support you from the beginning when you are trying to get going and grow.

Once the initial purchasers have convinced the next round they are dumped. That's what Apple did--they dumped their professional users that supported them through the hard times. It would be nice if Tesla did differently but I'm not holding my breath.

Mark E | September 30, 2012

"sergiyz | SEPTEMBER 30, 2012

I don't see why burying it in the cost of purchase is a bad idea.
It's not like you have an option of not paying it (other than voiding your warranty), so why not include it from the get go."

Very simple. If you include it in the initial price of the car then you also have increased all of the taxes. Increase the car price by $1800 for 3 years service and add 4% stamp duty, 10% GST, 33% LCT etc etc.

The $1800 costs the consumer >$2600 in the long run if bundled into the initial price.

jbunn | September 30, 2012

Correct, DouglasR. There is.

And Tesla did the right thing. This is now resolved for all 60s who signed during that time frame. See tonights post by GeorgeB.

Thank you TESLA!

Brian H | September 30, 2012

The SC process and stations, I think, were initially matched and suited to the 85s, for reasons of meaningful time and distance saving, etc. Which is why 40s were never worth "including". But the 60s were/are "on the edge". It's harder to make a case for good use of the n/w with them; the stations would, e.g., have to be 2/3 as far apart (1.5 times as many required) to give the same access as 85s. The distance/time gain is less, perhaps marginal.

So ... build 60s with SC or not? And if so, since the h/w must be built in early in the process, and can't be a retro-fit, do it only on demand? It seems that the decision was made to put the same basic h/w in 85s and 60s to streamline things. But the next stage is more difficult. Tune the h/w and software during the build so it can be used? In the end, that decision was made "optional" to the buyer, but had to be made early enough in the process. Without that, no charge for SC, because it would be unusable (forever).

So that's where it stands, finalized in the last few days. All 60s have the basic cabling installed, but unless the buyer specifies it is to be completed/activated/tuned, it remains unused and unusable. SC is not as well suited to 60s, but it is available.

sidney_wang | September 30, 2012

Wow, just read what GeorgeB posted tonight at another thread. Classy move by Tesla - no complaints from me. Thank you!

DouglasR | September 30, 2012

Yes, I think TM did the right thing. In my mind, the issue is over.

stuberman | September 30, 2012

For those of you who are looking for the post with the good news from George Blankenship, it is entitled:


If you have not yet finalized your order you might want to temper your enthusiasm and just read George's post.

I must say that I am thrilled, but I have already finalized my order.

Tâm | October 1, 2012

I don't get it! This is not a budgeted Ford Escort to argue over some costly $2,000 that covers a life time supply of gasoline and pre-installed over-sized gas tank that some may not want.

I think it is a wakeup call in communication.

Consider that we got it good with the Model S. Look at the Roadsters:

Roadster warranty was 3 years /36,000miles (Model S got 4/50,000.)

Original Out of Area Service Policy costs additional $8,000 at delivery to cover that warranty (if you are more than 100 miles from Tesla Service Center.)

Now rangers come to you in the USA for $2,400 for Model S.

It's cheaper now when comparing to early adopters but low maintenance does not mean cheap.

People may hear that this is a luxury car and then they want to make sure they won't get nickel & dimed.

Forget it! We are still early adopters with an evolving product but it is nice to get a hold of it while perfecting it gradually. And of course, there are certainly additional costs to come (which will be more than nickels and dimes.)

"Can We All Just Get Along?" (in memory of Rodney King)

mss7 | October 2, 2012

I received a series of emails from Tesla on this issue over the last week or so. The first asked me to cough up the $2k if I wanted supercharging. The next apologized for my having already configured and they offered me a discounted price of $1k for SC. I figured I would likely never use SC, but was concerned about resale. I decided to wait and think it over. Finally the following email came from Tesla. SC for free for me since I had already ordered my 60kW model and their plans on the web site re: SC had been through the various confusing iterations:

October 1, 2012
Hello Mark,

You are receiving this email because you no longer need to take action on the communication we sent you last week regarding Supercharging. You no longer need to make a decision or respond to the previous email.

After revisiting some of the explanations we used on our website and in our Design Studio the past few months, we feel as though it was not as clear as it should have been regarding the requirement to activate Supercharging on 60 kWh battery cars.

As a result, we are going to waive the entire fee to enable Supercharging on your 60 kWh Model S. You will now receive free, unlimited Supercharging on your car at no additional cost.

We apologize for the confusion. We thought our explanations were clear, but they were not clear enough.

We appreciate your support and understanding. If you have any questions about Supercharging and your order, please do not hesitate to contact us at or 877.798.3752.


Tesla Motors

Brian H | October 2, 2012

Good stuff! But, of course, it was not mere lack of clarity. Somebuddy jumped the gun or hallucinated a gun or SLT and made SC free to 60s for a couple of days on the web and contracts.

jbunn | October 3, 2012

I don't recall the exact time frame, but I imagine Volker knows. I think it was one, perhaps even two months on the web. I signed my contract about 5 weeks ago, and it was on my contract and would have been on the others before Friday.

I chuckled when I read one of George's mails that said they literaly made the decision at 11:30 PM east coast time (where he was at the time). I've made many decisions that late on a Friday night. In hindsight, most were not the best choices requiring bail, automotive work, sutures, awkward conversations the next morning with your new lady-friend, or best case asprin.

After hearing 11:30 PM and Decision in the same sentance, I suspected this might go in an "unexpected" direction.

Brian H | October 3, 2012

?? "included no charge" on the web for 2 mo.? I don't think so.

DouglasR | October 3, 2012

"Included" precisely the way Active Air Suspension is included on the Model S Performance.

jbunn | October 3, 2012

Douglas is correct. As a 60 purchaser, I've been watching supercharging closley for many many months from the TBD to the included, to the 2,000 updates. But if you don't believe me, just look at the emails reprinted from George in these threads. All hardware and software same as the 85s were in three places on the web, as he points out.

There was however never any expectation that that covered free supercharging for life, nor was that promised to the 85's until last week.

DouglasR | October 3, 2012

As I have pointed out before, TM could have established an upfront fee for lifetime use of the supercharging network. The fee could have been $1,000 or $2,000, and it would not have violated any agreement or promise. I suspect, however, that it would have been a pain to implement, as TM would need to find a way to authorize those purchasers who pay and lock out those who do not. It would have undercut the elegant simplicity of open, free access for all equipped vehicles. There cannot be that many 60kwh purchasers with signed MVPAs with SC included. In the end, TM's solution was both easy to implement and a relatively inexpensive way to purchase enormous good will. It was the right thing to do.

jbunn | October 3, 2012

I think they will need to solve this problem eventualy. You cant deploy hundreds of sc stations with tens of thousands of users sucking 30 or 40 kwh at a go, and keep offering that free forever. At some point I think they will need to go pay for use, with grandfathers.

Brian H | October 3, 2012

Didn't you believe Elon at the reveal? He said Solar City would be de facto charging all the cars off its arrays at the (selected) stations, which overall would output enough to feed every unit fulltime, and sell the surplus to the utilities to make its margin/profit.

TM's cost is initial installation, which he said was now cheap due to economies of scale in making the chargers (1 or 2 in every car, 12 in every SC unit). Thereafter it has no exposure. This free is forever. Lifetime, transferable with the car.

Brian H | October 3, 2012

Actually, Solar City will of course sell all of its output; the chargers feed off the grid. But the net result is surplus.

DouglasR | October 4, 2012

Brian H,

Are you sure Elon said the solar array would be sufficient to feed every unit full time? By my back-of-the-envelope calculation, I don't think that can be right. Each unit can put out 90kw. A typical solar panel will produce on average 9 watts/sq. foot for about 5 hours per day. That means a single charging unit would require 10,000 sq.ft. of solar panels to provide continuous charging during those 5 hours. To run six units continuously for 20 hours would require 240,000 sq.ft. of solar array. In the pictures, the canopy that houses the solar array appears to be somewhat smaller than that. :)

I hope someone who understands this stuff will correct me. I used this site to reach the above conclusions:

MB3 | October 4, 2012

I can confirm that Elon said those things, but I didn't think he meant that it would be sufficient electricity to cover all miles driven on every car. There won't be a car at ever stall of every station all the time. That could explain the difference in your calculations.

mrspaghetti | October 4, 2012

Add up all the square footage of all the panels used for all the supercharger stations, calculate how much power they produce on a yearly basis. That will be less than what is delivered to Model S batteries at the superchargers on a yearly basis.

pilotSteve | October 4, 2012

Think about the duty cycle. Most of the time (40? 80? 90? percent) those solar panels are "storing" their output in the grid. Then pulls out energy from the "bank" to charge.

If there was a queue to use a supercharger 8 hours per day that that particular SC would of course be a net negative.

Its a question of the SYSTEM efficiency and I trust that Elon and SolarCity have pretty good numbers to make the economic case. I'm really looking forward to the actual numbers a few years.

In fact, if/when SolarCity goes public they will probably disclose quite a bit about this business model.

jbunn | October 4, 2012

Brian H,

No, I believe Elon, but I think for residential systems the payback period is something like 12+ years... That represents tying up a significant amount of money in a nationwide infrastructure that's not bringing in net income.

I get a little worried about them getting over extended. They are already cutting it a bit fine getting the S launched, doing the X development, working on Gen III, and developing a nationwide network of charging stations. If I recall correctly, I think the number one cause of business failure is expanding too rapidly.

Elon has huge brass balls and a pretty unblemished track record, but he may not be infallable. Not saying I want him to slow down, but it seems like making each station have some cash flow from the start would be safer.

mrspaghetti | October 4, 2012

@jbunn: That's the first time I'm hearing the number one cause of business failure is "expanding too rapidly". I think it's more like "bad business model", "crappy products", "can't sell their product", "can't manage their finances" or something else along those lines.

Sudre_ | October 4, 2012

Brian H, Solar has a 5 hours average use in St. Louis Missouri. The further South you go that hour use goes up. In some states it goes way up because of lack of clouds on average throughout the year. There are charts for this these calculations.

Sudre_ | October 4, 2012

Should have said Southwest... and looks like St. Louis dropped to 4.5 hours.

Teoatawki | October 4, 2012

Here's my back of the envelope calculation:

When the short term part of the nationwide SC rollout is done in late 2013, there will be less than 25,000 Model Ss on the road, guessing less than 15,000 will be SC compatible. On any given day, say 1% (or less) are on road trips on any given day. Most of those will probably use one 30 minute super charge on a trip for 150 per day. 150 * 50kWh = 7.5mWh per day. Making 9w for 5 hours a day or 45Wh per square foot of panel works out to a little under 167,000 square feet of solar panels for the system (100 sites), or 1,670 square feet per Installation. So if a typical installation had coverage for 6 10' wide bays, it would need to be ~27 feet long.

Bottom line: if these assumptions are reasonable, Elon's assertion the system will produce net positive energy to the grid is possible.

Note: People smarter than me should probably check my math. And if anyone has a better number than 9w per ft2 for the SolarCity panels let me know.

Teoatawki | October 4, 2012

Subtract 1 "on any given day". Oops

jbunn | October 4, 2012

Mr Spaghetti,

I also agree with your statements that it's bad business model, crappy products, can't sell the products, can't manage the finance.

I don't think there is one single cause of a business failure, but likley a combination of several of these and other factors. But I want to be clear that rapid expansion is not the same as with rapid sales growth.

As a case study, I have an acquaintance that had a great but small BBQ resturant on a golf course. After years of success he built a new larger location on another course. Started dividing his time between both locations. Then never showed up at the old place, leaving it in staff hands. Quality dropped, expenses rose, the old place didn't have enough cash flow to support the new place, ect. So a combination of all we've discussed. Within a year or year and a half, both locations were out of business, taken out by the new location.

But here's a good quote from an article where the author discusses some of the top reasons for business failure.

"6. Overexpansion
A leading cause of business failure, overexpansion often happens when business owners confuse success with how fast they can expand their business. A focus on slow and steady growth is optimum. Many a bankruptcy has been caused by rapidly expanding companies."

That quote is a much more eloquent statement than I was able to make. I recall hearing this for the frist time eiehter as an undergrad or during MBA coursework. But that was a long time ago...

Docrob | October 4, 2012

Remember if they are going for a system wide net surplus then not all the arrays even have to be directly over a supercharger. Many superchargers will be in areas with low cost land adjacent so in some areas with the best solar insulation additional solar could be installed nearby. However they could also install solar over their retail stores and the roof of the factory could handle an absolutely enormous solar array with the added benefit that solar over a factory building reduces heat reaching the factory roof by acting as a double skin and therefore significantly reduces the cooling requirements within the building.

However I completely agree with TEOTAWKI's calculations, with typical supercharger use an array over the chargers should provide a net neutral or net surplus generation over the course of a year in the majority of US locations. Previous calculations like DouglasR's on the previous page are simply ridiculous in assuming that the superchargers will see 100% occupancy for 20 hours a day

Teoatawki | October 4, 2012

The sad statistic I glossed over in my calculation is that on average, each supercharger location will have 1.5 cars per day. Of course that's an average. I suspect Harris Ranch will see 10 times that typically. But some of the locations out in the boonies might get less than 1 a week on average. But those mostly forsaken stations in the plains halfway between nowhere and east nowhere will be indispensable for transcontinental travel. I'll be meeting many of them personally.

DouglasR | October 4, 2012

I think my comment above was misunderstood. The question was whether the solar panels will be sufficient to run every charging unit 24/7. They will not. Based on my rough calculation, they would be sufficient to charge one or two cars per station per day, as Teowatawki says. Elon probably figures that this a reasonable estimate of actual real world maximum use of the network. I assume he's right. Unless TM sells a lot more 85kwh cars than they expect, the SC network will probably produce a net surplus of energy.

Brian H | October 4, 2012

Nevertheless, that's what Elon said. So it depends strictly on how many arrays are installed, and their size, and location. Remember, this is not like a homeowner install. SC is getting space to install money-makers, at pricing a homeowner could only dream of, and with considerable discretion over virtually every aspect.

Nick Butcher | October 5, 2012

Pretty disappointed by Tesla here.

The "It's for software and hardware" explanation doesn't fly for two reasons:

1. I used to be the product manager for DC Fast Chargers (Superchargers) for ABB. I know what the hardware and software should cost, and it's NOT $2k.

2. The exact same software and hardware and test is required on the 85kWh version... and there's no surcharge there.

This is a completely transparent attempt to push buyers towards the 85kWh vehicle and/or push margins higher on the 60kWh.

The Supercharger network has obvious costs associated with deployment. I fully expected that there would be a fee to use it. When it was announced as 'free' I thought "Wow - these guys are sales and marketing and product experience geniuses". Now I'm thinking "God, these guys are sales and marketing and product experience idiots".

Claiming "Hey, it's optional, no one has a gun to your head" is disingenuous. Tesla sold the supercharger vision, and sold it hard. The 60kWh was listed as having it "included". Not "Included if you 'include' another $2k on the price tag", but *INCLUDED*. Nor "Included if you 'include' another $1k on the price tag because you got in early" - *INCLUDED*. This isn't 'oh, we're changing the vanity mirror'. You're adding a price to something that you previously indicated would be free.

Nissans Leaf includeds a 'supercharge' connector option as well. When it was optional, it was a $700 option. Now it's standard on the SL trim version. Ok, it's 50kW rather than 90kW, but the manufactured cost impact of this is about $10 (on the vehicle side). Sure, you have to pay to access the Chademo network... but with a 60kWh Tesla you have to pay to access the supercharger network too. It's just that with the Tesla you have to pay $2k up front.

I don't currently have any reservation for Tesla. I'm a huge fan of the company and a shareholder though. And I'm sad to see this kind of screwup from a company that is so dependent on brand. It wouldn't be a 'walk away' issue for me, but it would definitely sour the experience.

$700 for both existing and future 60kWh vehicles sounds like a fairer number to me. It would actually give the 'Drive across the country for free on pure sunlight' a ring of truth again. For now it's "Drive across the country on pure sunlight... but we expect you to pay for it all up front at time of purchase" (even if that's not how the exact maths works out).

Nick Butcher | October 5, 2012

Oh - and regarding the "Solar energy" component of the Supercharge stations; Elon could only have meant that the solar arrays will produce more energy annually that will be delivered to vehicles charging at them. As rendered, they look around 15m x 5m. With decent panels that array might generate 15kW in bright sunlight in summer. Even if you doubled the size and the efficiency it couldn't reach 90kW. It's energy that matters though, not power.

Nick Butcher | October 5, 2012

Finally, for those who are feeling p*ssed off - fair enough. But remember what Tesla are doing, and the speed with which they're doing it... and that they're actually pulling it off! Occasional slip ups in product and communication are inevitable. That's all this really is. $2k for a connector AND a vehicle lifetime of free highway charging is actually a pretty good deal. It just feels like a lousy deal because Tesla *stupidly* set an anchor of $0 for the feature on the vehicle. Think of it instead as $5/fill-up if you only use it once a week over an 8 year period. I hope they give you a better deal than that, but even if they don't it's still not bad.

Nick Butcher | October 5, 2012
mrspaghetti | October 5, 2012

Seems like you missed all the excitement. George Blankenship posted this a while back:

It doesn't seem like anyone is p.o.'d about the supercharging situation anymore.

Nick Butcher | October 5, 2012

It does, I'm late to the party. Hats of to Tesla for, once again, doing right by those who have put money down.

I still think the add-on is overpriced though. If they want to exclude the 40kWh, ok. But if the Supercharger network is really a game changer for EVs (and I think it is) then is it reasonable to suggest there will be 60kWh drivers who don't want the game changed? I don't really think so.

I'd be thinking very hard about getting the 85kWh variant with the price differential down to only $8k.

Overall though - I'm a happy shareholder. Early customers treated right, as it should be. Power of difference from the lousy deal some Leaf owners are getting.

mrspaghetti | October 5, 2012

I'd argue that all Leaf owners are getting a lousy deal. I'd hate to be worrying whether I could make it to my destination if an unplanned (but urgent) side trip came up. And with the range of the Leaf - or any other EV but the Model S - that anxiety would be a daily part of life.

Screw that.