Is supercharging really free?

Is supercharging really free?

The quote I got from Tesla PR is: "All Model 3 will have the capability for Supercharging. We haven't specified (and aren't right now) whether supercharging will be free."

Thanks to Mr Boylan at TMC

The point of this thread was to debunk the repeated claim that unlimited supercharging would be free on the Model 3. As we now know unequivocally, it is not.

Chunky Jr. | April 1, 2016

@BIgHorn : thanks for clarification. When EM said it was included, I assumed that meant hardware and software. Sounds like the hardware is included, but there could be an added charge for the software to make it work.

mbb | April 1, 2016

The issue here is clear and simple. Tesla has a decision to make as a business how to price the supercharging, and we as reservation holder decide if we still want the car. Tesla's mission is to promote electric cars, and Elon's strategy is to maximize growth instead of profit. From owner's point of view, my priority is to have access to supercharger without long waits, or else I have to keep a fossil car just for long distance travel, which defeats the purpose to have an EV in the first place. I am confident supercharger network can scale to millions of Teslas with very reasonable cost and offer great charging experience

merico | April 1, 2016

I purchased a Model S85 in 2014 and did not pay additional for supercharging access. I supercharge on all of my long distance trips (LA to San Diego, Tahoe, Vegas, Grand Canyon) and have never paid 1 cent.I am confused...

Bighorn | April 1, 2016

Assuming those are rated miles on your dash pic, 78 miles remaining at approximately the 40% mark yields 195 miles at full. That's a 60kWh battery regardless of the screen logo.

SUN 2 DRV | April 2, 2016

Merico: Your S85 simply had the cost of the Supercharger option bundled into the price of the car. Some Model 3's may come that way too, but Tesla hasn't yet decided how to price and bundle that capability.

dtesla | April 3, 2016

There are three seperate terms/issues here:

1) Supercharger hardware: Currently included in the base price of all Tesla Cars... And the Model 3, as of now, will have this hardware built into every car. I'm sure Tesla includes the supercharging hardware since the actual hardware in the car is relatively inexpensive and simplifies the production process. It is also my assumption that the price of the car is just a little bit higher to cover this cost. This hardware can be thought of as a relay that switches between the AC to DC battery charger build in the car and the supercharger direct connect to the DC batteries built in the car.

2) Supercharger access: In the past Tesla has both had this as either a for pay option or an included (hidden?) cost in the base price of the car. I personally think of this as prepaying for your electricity when I supercharge in the future. May also be where Tesla get the money to build superchargers.

3) Supercharging: This is the act of supercharging. Since you have prepaid for the electricity, the act of supercharging is free.

Shesmyne2 | April 3, 2016

@dtesla-well said. Clearly there is some confusion.
SC cost wasn't 'hidden' it was specifically stated in our invoice but was an option at that time and it was $2000.
Mind you, there were only MAYBE 5 SC in the entire country (2012)
But you are correct in #3 which some people still don't understand.

Bringing out the Model3 now allows us 'Classic' owners and old timers to continue the education for new owners.
THAT'S great too! The excitement continues.

Still Grinning ;-)

Red Sage ca us | April 3, 2016

Bighorn: As you know, my standard rule around here is that if you wrote it, you are correct. But, just like with my Dad, just because you are always right, doesn't mean I have to agree with you. So, in that spirit...

I have argued with the guys over at TMC about this at length, including MrBoylan. I find it very interesting that so many Tesla Enthusiasts, who never believed Elon Musk any of the times he said 'Free for LIFE!' anyway, are so quick to jump on the fact he didn't use that phrase on Thursday March 31, 2016. Maybe, after receiving a 1/4 million reservations in a couple of days, Tesla Motors will wait until the Model ☰ Reveal Part II to fully clarify this to the eventual satisfaction of Elon's Detractors.

My interpretation is that he has said Supercharging is Free Forever. The other night he said that the Model ☰ has Supercharging included. So, to me, that means that any Model ☰ will be able to plug into and charge at a Supercharger from the very start.

Now, for those who feel there is 'wiggle room'... I resist shifting in my seat to glare at them with my LEFT eye... And consider the notion.

So, yes... There may be a different model for Supercharger Access with Model ☰ vehicles. But I seriously disagree that model will be any of those proposed by the Contingent of Perpetual Elon Doubters.

1) No Credit Card on File
2) No Billing After Use
3) No Annual Fee
4) No Monthly Fee
5) No Subscription Program
6) No Pay-at-the-Pump
7) No Geo-Fencing
8) No Opt-Out Cost Reduction
9) No Limited Access Plans
10) No Maximum Use Plans

Why? Because each of those 'solutions' is to a problem that does NOT exist. Most buyers will charge their cars at home, most of the time. Some people will charge their cars exclusively at Superchargers. Those maximum use Customers will always be outnumbered by those who either never use Superchargers, or hardly ever do so.

Yes, the Primary purpose of the Supercharger network is to allow long distance travel between population centers. A Secondary purpose though, is to distribute Superchargers to satisfy the charging needs of those in densely populated areas that do not have access to a regular parking space so that owning an EV can be as convenient as possible. And, as I see it, a Third purpose of the Supercharger network is to attract more buyers of Tesla Motors' cars.

I could be wrong. It could be that Supercharging will not be FREE (of additional fees) for LIFE (the life of the car)' for Model ☰. Maybe it will only be FREE for a Limited Time! Or even FREE for a certain number of Charges! Hopefully not FREE for a given number of Miles! And I wouldn't be opposed to FREE for the Original Registered Owner (and if the car is sold, it must be reactivated for a fee if the next guy wants it)...

But I honestly believe that the just buy a car, use any Supercharger you need, whenever you want, but don't be a [BUM] about it, plan will work just fine as long as Tesla Motors isn't building 100,000,000 cars per year for twenty years straight.

alistair | April 3, 2016

It was said at one point that all super chargers will be powered by renewables specifically solar...

logicalthinker | April 10, 2016

This is the answer.
Supercharging was intended to enable long-distance travel. Like, >200 miles in a day.
Ergo, that is the solution. If you drive LESS THAN 200 miles in a day and Supercharge, Tesla can bill you for "lighting up green X% of the battery bar on your car screen" -- technically not billing for the electricity, but billing you for a screen image.

KP in NPT | April 10, 2016

God I wish they would just answer the question definitively so all this speculation and these crazy scheme ideas would end.

J.T. | April 10, 2016

@mp1156 If you truly believe that a definitive answer from Tesla will end all the speculation and crazy scheme ideas then you haven't been here long enough. :-)

DTsea | April 10, 2016

Logicalthinker again illogical.

apeter1972 | April 10, 2016

Well as future M3 owner having to pay for the SCing activation is reasonable.
After all it is a privilege for Tesla owners and a brand image.
Just my opinion.

SamO | April 10, 2016

OMFG . . . Tesla will charge something for "activation" allowing "Free supercharging" hardware, to be true. Elon hasn't just mastered engineering, but also the english language.

Supercharging hardware will be included, but accessing that "free supercharging, for life" is sometimes more than just buying the car.

jordanrichard | April 10, 2016

logicalthinker, I have a better definition for long distance travel. Any trip out and back that can't be done without charging.

cephellow | April 10, 2016

I, like many other Tesla veterans, groaned slightly when Elon didn't add the word "capability" to his words "includes supercharging". I am almost certain that that is what he meant- supercharging capability. The words behind him clearly stated Supercharger Capable, and so has anything printed since.
Now we have to trudge through infinitely long forum posts debating this stuff. It is clear to me that the SC capability is what you will get with a base model. You will either have to pay to enable supercharging or buy a dual motor or other higher trim level that includes it.
IMO, There is no way that Tesla is going to support a billing organization for pay per use or other real time metered application.

Red Sage ca us | April 11, 2016

logicalthinker: It's all about how you define 'a day', isn't it? U-HAUL charges '$19.95 a day!' for renting a pickup truck or van. You have to follow the asterisk to the small print, which defines 'a day' as an eight hour period, with no overnights.

J.T.: +1! Correct. People have been debating since 2012 the merit of 'Free for Life, Forever'.

apeter1972: Nothing wrong with the opinion. Certainly not unreasonable. I just really wish people would stop saying they would be 'happy to pay for it'.

SamO: Maybe. We'll see. But I would be very surprised if the fee were more than $500.

jordanrichard: +1! Correct. I sincerely doubt Tesla Motors would bar someone from using a Supercharger when their car is below 20%, 10%, 5% and unable to make it home otherwise. No need for any Naysayers to see more of their cars on flat bed trailers.

cephellow: I was too busy cheering to groan. I didn't read the screen behind him until a couple of days later, when all the groaners posted multiple threads here and at TMC about the absence of the 'Free for Life' phrase.

SamO | April 11, 2016

@Red Sage,

Maybe Supercharger activation will be the bonus for anyone making a reservation before an "announcement" date. Or for anyone who got in physical line.

I think $1000 might be the lowest that might be reasonable and would piggyback on the network built with increased funding from the Model S. He could point to trying to make the car accessible to the greatest number and that the hardware was included. A simple phone call can activate "free for life".

Although if Elon said that he wanted to shove every spare dollar into the network and every car ever built would have Supercharging included, I would support that as well.

I just think he left himself some wiggle room with his board of directors.

Rocky_H | April 11, 2016

@Red Sage, Quote: "Why? Because each of those 'solutions' is to a problem that does NOT exist."

But here is the problem that DOES exist: the base price problem. I want a car WITHOUT air suspension, pano roof, leather seats, fancy rims, etc. because I want a cheaper car, and those are things I don't need. If Tesla can price it lower, with enabling Supercharging as an extra option, it does get the base price lower, enticing more people into it. Most people will choose to pay for that option, but then it's mission accomplished. And with the hardware built in, it will be a tempting offer that some people may enable later.

Morlandoemtp061383 | April 11, 2016

The idea behind supercharging is to allow customers to travel long distance where it would not be convenient to plug in somewhere for 4-8 hours to charge. So if you plan to drive 100+ miles or are on vacation outside your normal zip code supercharging is free, but if you are driving 30-50 miles a day and have the ability to charge at home you should do so, charging wasn't meant to be a local replacement. As far as being supercharger capable every car will have it but there will be a small fee to activate it, I believe this fee will be between 1000-1500 dollars.

jordanrichard | April 11, 2016

Morlandoemtp061383, correct. What you are describing/suggesting is what most of us are doing and that is common courtesy. The issue is there are some people who keep insisting on establishing set parameters for supercharger usage. I also will venture to guess that these people suggesting such limitations don't have a Tesla and used the superchargers. | April 11, 2016

This is so simple. How can anyone be confused?

As @dtesla points out, " Supercharger capable" simply means that the car comes with the hardware capability to accept 120 kW DC out of a Supercharger cable. Period.

What it will cost, if anything, up front or otherwise remains to be determined.


So let us be done with the BS about what ought or ought not happen and simply wait. We're good at waiting.:-))

george210 | April 11, 2016

I will not need supercharging unless i am going to use the car on/for a distance trip. So i would prefer to pay for supercharging on an intemittent basis -- for a week or two a few times per year.

Red Sage ca us | April 11, 2016

SamO: I've written this multiple times before. I hoped to not have to repeat it. But here we go...

The $2,000 fee for Supercharging on the Model S 60 represented only 11.44% of the 25% profit margin on that car. The traditional automobile manufacturers admit to a 6% profit margin on their cars. Since Tesla Motors will not have a network of 'independent franchised dealerships' to siphon off profitability, that makes for another 6%. So, it is very likely the minimum profit margin on a $35,000 Model ☰ will be 12%. That comes to $4,200 and 11.44% of that is $480.48 or less than $500. Besides... What's the point of cutting the Reservation deposit from a $5,000 minimum on Model S and Model X to only $1,000 if you are only going cut the Supercharger option from $2,000 to $1,000 on higher volume? Sure, a $1,000 fee is simple, straightforward, linear, understandable, and likely 'fair'... But a $500 fee, if tendered, would be extremely affordable and accessible. And, swallowing that amount and telling people to just buy a car, then charge where ever they like, as often as they like, but please don't be a [BUM] about it, is even better.

Red Sage ca us | April 11, 2016

Rocky_H: The base price has been set, effectively at 'half' the $69,900 price of the Model S 60 since 2013. The people at Tesla Motors are very, very smart. They are making every effort to ensure that the cost to build the car does not exceed 94% of $35,000 to start -- or $32,900 -- so that the car is at the very least, profitable in some way from the very beginning. By the way, car companies that fall below 5% profitability go out of business. Lexus manages 14% across their whole product line. Worst case, if the options that are added above and beyond the base price cost 50% as much as is charged for them, if someone adds as much as $15,000 in options to the base car -- meaning a $50,000 MSRP car costs $40,400 to build -- the overall profitability goes to 19.2% instead. Even a $2,000 fee for Supercharger access would only move that to 22.3% profitability on the top end. And if Supercharger access were the sole $2,000 option chosen on a $35,000 car, that would take you from a 6% minimum to a 11.1% margin. My, that number looks familiar... Oh! That's because as I said before, not having a network of 'independent franchised dealerships' allows for an additional 6% of profitability all by itself -- and therefore, Supercharger access is already paid for!

Jkwalz | April 11, 2016

Why even annouce m3 has supercharging included if you had to pay extra to essentially turn it on.

Essentially then it is a worthless piece of hardware that will never be used on the car unless activated.

Can anyone give an example of a hardware unit on previous models that serves ZERO purpose unless activated???

You really think in an emergency someone needing a charge at a SC and their be no way of paying for an individual charge since they didn't pay an up front lifetime fee?

Seeing a bunch of m3's on tow trucks isn't going to help PR.

robgorman | April 11, 2016

Don't forget the carbon credits Tesla earns for every car it sells. Tessa then sells those carbon credits on the open market to ICE car manufacturers, earning Tesla more profit from the sale of each car.

Red Sage ca us | April 11, 2016

robgorman: There are no 'carbon credits'. I'm pretty sure I noted this earlier. But it's been a busy week, it might not have been you I told.

cephellow | April 11, 2016

Model s40 with a 60 pack- unless activated
Model S and X with autopilot hardware- have to pay to activate
Early model S 40 and 60- have to pay for SUpercharging
P90D- equipped with electronic fuse and inconel contactors- have to pay to activate
XM capable- have to subscribe to use
I guess I can't think of 1 example......

cephellow | April 11, 2016

P90D -meaning $ for Ludicrous

Al1 | April 11, 2016

All I can say I'd rather have it fast where and when I need it then free, 300 miles away and by an appointment.

brian | April 11, 2016

'If you drive LESS THAN 200 miles in a day and Supercharge, Tesla can bill you for "lighting up green X% of the battery bar on your car screen" -- technically not billing for the electricity, but billing you for a screen image.'

What if you do plan to do a long distance trip, and suddenly have to cancel at the last minute, after charging, due to unforeseen reasons?

Sorry, I will be late home tonight. I charged up at a supercharger today, so I will have to drive at least 200 miles today before I can come home.

cquail | April 12, 2016

Supercharging is what makes Tesla different from other EVs. As an S85D owner I know how great and important this capability is. Tesla would be wise to include Supercharging free with the Model 3 to introduce a whole new group of owners to the capability. But I do not know if that model is substanable. Perhaps it should be free for the initial warranty period with options to buy the capability for X more years or life time of the car.

PhillyGal | April 12, 2016

Tier 1: Unlimited supercharging at every/any SC location - $X
Tier 2: Unlimited supercharging at any SC greater than 50 miles from your home address - $ 1/2X (or make it free)

I say 50 because it makes a 300 mile round trip possible; plus it takes roughly an hour to go to, thus removing (I would hope!) the convenience factor of charging just to get free juice.

PhillyGal | April 12, 2016

Again, not that I think they will or should do this, but it seems far more logical than any per minute or per kwh pricing plan, which I don't think will be happening any time soon, if ever.

PhillyGuy | April 12, 2016

In my opinion most shareholders would not want Tesla to issue more stock effectively diluting their shares. How else is Tesla supposed to raise money? With hundreds of thousands of Teslas coming on the road over the next few years, they will need capital to build out their SC network. Having each new owner pay $2k for supercharging finances the continued expansion of the network. Just like Elon has said on numerous occasions, the Roadster, S, and X owners made the design and development of the 3 possible. Same concept for expanding the SCs.

Red Sage ca us | April 12, 2016

One more thing for the anti-geofencing list:

NO calls to the Mothership to get permission to please, pretty please, with sugar on top -- may I use the Supercharger location nearby -- because there was a flood/tornado/fire/other disaster that prevents me from charging at home?

cquail: +42! The Ultimate Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything about "How Can We Ensure that Supercharger Access is a Sustainable Model from Now On?"

PhillyGuy: Stock dilution is of limited effect if one uses the 'class' system for shares.


Hi_Tech | April 12, 2016

should be the same system that was originally introduced with different levels of Model S...
1. Base version requires additional fee to activate for rest of life of vehicle (maybe about $1k instead of $2k);
2. Upgraded battery pack versions would include access as part of the battery price.

... or whatever the heck the company wants to do to best meet their business and production plans. They have visibility into the future plans and their own finances that we do not. I've see no reason to doubt that the leadership has the best interest of it's customers in mind.

Red Sage ca us | April 12, 2016

HiteshBhatt: Once again... The 'base version' did not allow Supercharging -- AT ALL -- period. That was the Model S 40. A fee of $1,000 would be too high... $500 would be fine, if there is to be one.

SamO | April 12, 2016


In estimating the cost of the cars to the system, you can look at the construction costs and ongoing electricity costs.

@$1000 per activation, when Tesla sells 200,000 Model 3 is 2018 in the US, that will be $200,000,000 toward the Supercharger "account". With larger Superchargers coming on line, let's assume the price of construction is $500,000.

400 Superchargers at that price seems about right to increase density by adding 40% to the U.S. fleet

Assuming 333Wh/m on road trips, and power costs at $0.10/kWh that's about 30,000 miles per car.

Ten year lifespan of a vehicle with average of 15,000 miles per year.

10% of miles Supercharging = 15,000 miles or $500 in electricity

$500 for infrastructure development.

Why is $1000 too high?

Red Sage ca us | April 12, 2016

SamO: Because I expect that less than 10% of Model ☰ buyers over the first five years will be using Superchargers exclusively, and that likely 70% of them will use them rarely. The 10% will not be using so much electricity that they bankrupt the fund of what was paid by the 70%. And the 20% who use the Supercharger network regularly, but not exclusively, will just be getting what they paid for. So, even if ten times as many Model ☰ owners use Superchargers exclusively as do Model S owners who also use them exclusively, the total amount contributed toward expansion, energizing, and maintenance of Superchargers will not be expended.

That is... If one out of ten Model S owners uses Superchargers exclusively... And one out of them Model ☰ owners uses Superchargers exclusively... That will still be only 10% of their combined totals. So, if 55,000 people out of 550,000 owners use Superchargers exclusively, it will be no big deal. Especially if there is one Supercharger location for every 250 cars on the road. And honestly, I expect it will not climb above 5%.

jordanrichard | April 12, 2016

Just to add some real world usage into this discussion. The following is the number of times I used a supercharger with my S85 over the last year:

Apr 2015: 6
May: 8
Jun: 3
Jul: 6
Aug: 4
Sept.: 2
Oct: 5
Nov: 2
Dec: 2
Jan 2016: 2
Feb: 2
Mar: 22
Apr: so far, 2

Aside from my recent trip to SC in March, on avg I only use the superchargers 6.45 times a month. Obviously all the other charging is at home.

SamO | April 12, 2016


I just showed the numbers for the "average" user.

15K miles per year.
10% of miles Supercharged
$500 in direct energy costs over 10 years
$500 toward network expansion

Nothing to do with exclusive use. Just regular use.


Miles is more helpful than stops.

What percent of miles are from Superchargers vs home?

jordanrichard | April 12, 2016

Ok, since last April, to include that month, I have driven 20,975 miles of which 7,245 were via superchargers. So that's 34%.

Red Sage ca us | April 12, 2016

SamO: These discussions typically focus upon so-called 'local abusers'... I take that to mean those who use Superchargers exclusively from the perspective of Owners... Though I have stated before that Tesla Motors has instead noted it is those who park at busy Superchargers when they do NOT need to charge that are the 'problem' because they inconvenience others who DO need to charge. Usually any discussion of fees for Superchargers is meant to either cover the expense of having 'local abusers' or to somehow discourage 'local abuse' of them.

Will I be a 'local abuser'...? Not likely. I will charge mostly at home. But I WILL make use of Superchargers. Leaving work on Friday I am likely to pick a direction and GO. Solvang, Buttonwillow, Inyokern, Barstow, Indio, San Diego... I'd hit one of those locations either on the way out, or on my way back home, every weekend. And because of Superchargers, I'd likely rack up in the neighborhood of 50,000 miles per year.

Haggy | April 12, 2016

To get back on topic, will supercharging be free? People have gone to the website and shown the configuration information. Then we saw it quickly change to say "supercharging capable." But as of today, that same icon says "Supercharging." When a company goes out of its way to remove the word "capable," it seems as if they wouldn't do it if they thought there was a risk of them being accused of misleading or false advertising.

Rocky_H | April 12, 2016

@Red Sage, Huh. You managed to miss my point or not comprehend it somehow. You seem to flippantly think they will have no problem hitting that $35,000 base price point, and chalk it up to their savings from not having to use dealerships. I didn’t think I would have to explain it to you, but I guess I will have to explicitly lay this out:

Other companies build gas cars for $35,000. Their car part that holds the energy is a $200 empty tank. Tesla will be straining to hit that $35,000 base price because they are already way way behind on costs because of their car part that holds the energy is a high-tech temperature monitored and controlled battery pack that costs tens of thousands of dollars. That’s before they even begin to add a car to it. They will be hard pressed to have ANY profit on the $35,000 I think. So they will need to have some VERY attractive options that most people will buy above that $35,000 price.

biggestfan | April 12, 2016

@Rocky_H problem, Ludicrous, okay SOLD!

apeter1972 | April 12, 2016

I really wish that some Tesla official would just chime in and put this debate to an end , ugghhh on and on..... About this supercharger thing is it free blah blah blahhhh.... Everything I've been reading is pure speculation and another thing I've noticed is some MS owners are talking like they own rights to the superchargers,
The last thing I need is for some MS dude giving me looks while I potentially and rightfully supercharge next to him or her.