Why Buffets Are Imaginary: Inclusive Charging Figments

Why Buffets Are Imaginary: Inclusive Charging Figments

If I have to read one more post about how Tesla MUST charge per kWh, pay per use, or charge by time, I'm going to cry over the stupidity of humanity. The reason Tesla has an existing Supercharging Network is that they took the easiest system in the world - ALL YOU CAN EAT - and transposed it onto a charging network.

I paid $2000 for a lifetime of free charging. Similar to the last time I went to Hometown Buffet (ugh). Some filled up on pizza. Some ate the salad, while some ate the shrimp, exclusively.

If everyone ate nothing but shrimp, they'd probably have to change formats, raise prices or eliminate the shrimp, but some people just want a salad. Some people love the pizza. Didn't they know the shrimp were a better "deal"? Weren't they optimizing their meal for the greatest value, you ask?

NO and NO.

They made a personal choice. A preference. I heard shrimp are high in cholesterol.


Objectively, Tesla has accelerated their Supercharging Network by internally allocating $ from each sale to the construction, maintenance and fuel for its network. They could become just like Chargepoint or some other crappy (slow) charging service OR they can continue to disrupt by making a better product for everyone and replace the entire gasoline fueling system, singlehandedly.

I'm glad they have introduced the Model 3 with the lowest possible price point and then give owners the OPTION to join the Supercharging network through a fee paid or the purchase of a package of options (likely larger battery).

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. | 2016年6月2日

+1 Simplicity is often the best. Easy to understand too.

KP in NPT | 2016年6月2日

Elon said he will explain "soon." It ant be soon enough. All this armchair CEOing is driving me batty.

Tweet from Elon:

Supercharger policy explained well by @LATimes:…

Will post detailed description soon. I think it's a good balance.

mb30 | 2016年6月2日

I like the proposal a few people made. Offer a certain amount of charges per year included in the base price and if you want access to anymore than you buy the upgrade. I think this is a fair and balanced way of looking at it and lines up perfectly with what Musk intended the supercharging network to be (enable long distance driving). It's likely that most people will only *need* to use the SCs a few times a year when they travel. For others that know they will need to use it a lot (travel for work etc...) they'll know to pay upfront.

SamO | 2016年6月2日


There aint no such thing as a free lunch. (TANSTAAFL) Be prepared to cough up for using the network.

dachuyn | 2016年6月2日

Dont read "supercharging" related posts if they cause you to lose sleep :-)

Those discussions have been popular ... for a reason ...

warren_tran | 2016年6月2日

i can say similar to ten of thread about AGW/climate change. SC topic for discussion have greater interest to much greater audience.

How is are you expecting Tesla to charge the same price whether it is include in certain package or separate fee on the same scale to Model 3 ($2000 or $2500) help on this goal?


warren_tran | 2016年6月2日

I wish there is edit option this this forum.......

Should be How are you expecting

mbb | 2016年6月2日


It's about miles driven on Tesla to replace miles on ICE cars or air travel. The supercharger buffet encourages that. That's one of the reasons why people drive Tesla a lot and love it so much.

mb30 | 2016年6月2日

@samo I'm not saying it's free. I'm contending that they built the price of limited super charging into the price, much like they have done with unlimited for the s and the x. I could be wrong, but I think that's a fair option for them to offer. However if it's as simple as paying to gain access, it is something I'm willing to do.

JeffreyR | 2016年6月2日

Here is the link to LA TImes article that Elon referenced:

LA Times: "No free charging for Model 3? Tesla can explain"

From the article:

"The only way to bring the Model 3 to market at the proposed base price, he said, 'is to decouple (free supercharging) from the cost of the Model 3.'
Free access to the superchargers could be purchased as an option, or a package, Musk said at the meeting in Mountain View, Calif. 'But it will not be free long-distance charging for life unless you purchase that package.'”

Tstolz | 2016年6月2日

Thanks for the clarification SamO ... I think I'm starting to get it. People who disagree with you don't simply value things differently than you or have a different opinion based on their own experiences ... they are just stupid :) lol

Tesla had more information than we do. I'm confident they will make the best decision for them and us based on the facts. It may stay the same .. but I certainly won't be surprised if they try something as 'radical' as per kW or time-based packages ... clearly an argument can be made either way!

SamO | 2016年6月2日


People continue to make "stupid" arguments for why Tesla "should" charge customers by the kWh. They rehash fear, uncertainty and doubt in order to imply the sky is falling or that the "moochers" are/will be overrunning the chargers and that the "solution" to all these (nonexistent) "problems" is the same old failed program of Chargepoint and Blink.

Or they want to default to the gas station paradigm.

Yes, I think this is a "stupid" idea, lacking in imagination or vision.

BTW, so do Elon Musk, JB Straubel and Tesla Motors. They've chosen free for life* and I'm convinced it's the most elegant solution.

*with activation | 2016年6月2日

@SamO: Oh, oh, the party line is changing. For years Elon has been pounding the idea of Tesla accelerating the "Advent of Sustainable Transport". But someone must have pointed out to him that you can't drive a PowerWall. So now, I see that the mantra is accelerating the advent of sustainable energy.

dachuyn | 2016年6月2日

@SamO... Being stuck with same idea will lead to stupidity too ... Human would still ride horses new ideas didnt come along!

SamO | 2016年6月2日


There's only one new idea: a network open to everyone. Free for Life.

The "same idea" is charging per kWh.



Tstolz | 2016年6月2日

Funny how anonymity makes some people behave badly ... oh well.

The world has colour SamO. I'm pretty sure Tesla continues to explore their options as new data becomes available ... it would certainly be stupid for them not to!

SamO | 2016年6月2日

Please explain "behaving badly?"

Tstolz | 2016年6月2日

Well that explains a lot. Sorry SamO I'm out - this is silly.

carlk | 2016年6月2日

Why some people are so adamant that they should be offered buffets? What's wrong with just ordering meals when you are hungry? Not a good sign. Just saying.

bb0tin | 2016年6月3日

I note that your post did not directly explain why pay-as-you-go is stupid.
You also did not explain why the reasons put forward to have a pay-as-you-go option is stupid.
You have some explaining to do.

Drdpharris | 2016年6月3日

I do not think any of us should get too excited over speculated problems. While I would prefer a base Model 3 to include 'free for life' (ie prepaid) SC access, I am willing to wait for a firm announcement on what my options will be before passing judgement. I would support a limited-use option, as I am unlikely to make many long-distance trips. EM has said he would make a more definitive statement soon.

bb0tin | 2016年6月3日

You said "I do not think any of us should get too excited over speculated problems."
Lack of charging at peak times is already a problem. In 4 years there will be about 20 times as many Teslas on the road. This is the fact of the matter.

Imagine if Tesla was always pay-as-you-go, just like the petrol station model, and never had a 'free for life' option. Now consider they they want to ditch the pay-as-you-go and implement a substantial upfront mandatory fee to use the superchargers. I expect there would be howls of protest from the same people arguing the opposite case now.

SoFlaModel3 | 2016年6月3日

I think this original post loses sight of the mission and intent with the Model 3. It's a car for the masses, not the more exclusive group buying a car for ~$100k. The masses will be most likely to have this car be their exclusive car or their family's primary car. I have a young family (2 kids -- aged 3 and 9 months). We live in Florida and it's about 200 miles to Disney World -- a place we figure to visit once a year as the kids grow. I would never spend $1,000, 2,000, etc. to get lifetime access to the Super Charger network that I will be using say 2-4 times a year (0.56% of the time). Suddenly my perceived gas money savings are a thing of the past as I will have spent so much money on "gas" that it will take years upon years to balance out the up front cost. I'm not saying I want to "pay at the pump" as I think there is a more elegant solution, but there is no way that I want to pay for the "buffet" and eat "one shrimp" either. I will be doing exactly as Elon said in the shareholders meeting -- treating my car like my phone and charging at home. When i travel though, I use someone else's power to charge my phone and I will need to do the same with my car.

bb0tin | 2016年6月3日

You said "as I think there is a more elegant solution"
I would be interested in hearing it.
Please don't do a Fermats Last Theorem on us.

SoFlaModel3 | 2016年6月3日

Sure sorry -- yes that was a bit open ended.

Rather than putting the payment terminals on the charging stations themselves, I have to imagine there is a way to do it through the software in the car and/or the Tesla app. Using either, you can say "pay for 20 minutes of charge" and then use those 20 minutes at the super charger.

For me -- it's a tough pill to swallow to spend $2,000 on something I will use for 2-4 days a year. Let's say I keep my typical car for 5 years. Today I spend ~$125/month on gas. After 5 years I will have spent $7,500 on gas but it's gas that I used everyday bringing my daily cost to $4.10/day. With the supercharging at say $2,000 one-time, I will use it 10-20 times over 5 years, so that brings my daily cost to $100-200/day.

I'm not really trying to do a comparison of gas vs. electricity really though. What I am saying in the end is that super charging will be rarely used, so a massive mark up to gain access to the rarely used feature would a tough pull to swallow yet at the same time it's borderline deal breaker. Without access to the supercharger network your car officially cannot take you everywhere you need to go with it unless you then plan your trip around destination chargers.

adias.angel | 2016年6月3日

The one part of the buffet analogy you are missing is that I have many restaurant choices. I will go somewhere else to eat for a more reasonable price but I don't have another option for charging my car in 30 minutes. Range and charging is the very first thing people ask me about. Being able to say there is a dedicated infrastructure available helps reduce anxiety and preconceptions of EVs.

So while you are not able to associate a dollar value to the network, you are using it as strategic advantage. If our goal is to get rid of our reliance on fossil fuels, the key is to give people the security and confidence they have in ICE cars. That is what the Supercharger Network provides but not if we charge $1k-$2k. The security is knowing it's there when you need it and seeing it as a good value for the money even if you hardly use it.

dachuyn | 2016年6月3日

My issue is simply that some "all-you-can-eaters" stay longer than neccessary and come back and forth too many time ...

And there can be bullies in line too ...

warren_tran | 2016年6月3日

^^^^ I'm not big but I can hold my own in buffet style eating. Great analogy.

SV Az | 2016年6月3日

All those people in favor of Pay Per Use OR one time package should specify how far/near is a supercharger to them Or does it come in their daily/weekly route. This should generate a good metric.

I am in favor of pay per use. I believe the news with current 1000 + Teslas, SCs are blogged during Weekends/Peak Hours and I expect the issue to grow when there are 2000 M3s added every year in States and doubling SCs will not help. The nearest supercharger(even planned) is 44 miles away from my house.I live in Phoenix,AZ(6th largest city in US, not a small town). I can use SCs only when I am travelling to different cities. If I cannot plan my travel time from PHX- Destination because I do not know how busy a SC will be when I get there OR If I have to plan my travel to avoid weekends to use SC, I would rather use my ICE. This will always be a reason I would not be able to go full EV.

warren_tran | 2016年6月3日

Done. Posted on thread *Tesla needs Pay-per-use Supercharger Option*

topher | 2016年6月3日

Economics will tell you why it is a bad idea.

There is a reason why most restaurants AREN'T buffets. And certainly there are no which are eat as much as you want for the rest of your life.

So let's consider a few types of customers to such a restaurant.

1) The lazy guy who lives next door. He eats all his meals at the restaurant, every day.
2) A local person who likes the food, and eats there often.
3) A person visiting town with no plans on ever returning.

The question becomes how do you price that service?
How can anyone believe they aren't subsidizing guy 1)?

Thank you kindly.

dachuyn | 2016年6月3日

:-) kinda harsh ... But true ...

Have to add that if Tesla still follows the all you can eat scheme, it means Tesla calculated that there is even more value coming out from those poor guys (i mean people who paid for SC but are not using much)...

dachuyn | 2016年6月3日

I have to add that i would not mind if Tesla can make $$$ from any SC scheme. However SC access (wait) time and fairness (for those who rarely use the SC network) need to be taken into consideration ...

bb0tin | 2016年6月3日

Thanks for your clarification.
There is no need for a pay terminal or prepay card etc.
Tesla knows it is your car charging, how much power you received, and how long you were there. This is all done wirelessly from the car. They can bill your credit card, which is on their files, post charging.

SV Az | 2016年6月3日

@ adias.angel , @ topher +100.

@ dachuyn + 1 It is all about wait times at SC, and being able to plan the travel time between Point A to Point B when you need SC in between. Tesla will have recoup at minimum the cost (capital/operation) from users.

mos6507 | 2016年6月3日

[Please explain "behaving badly?"]

Google image search with the keywords: "someone is wrong on the internet"

afestini | 2016年6月3日

My main worry about an all-or-nothing approach is that it will scare off a lot of potential customers (just look what it did to the stock value). Some reactions I see coming:

-"No SC access? The car is useless without SCs. It's not a 35k car, they are sneakily increasing the real price."

-"I only need SCs once a year. I don't need 'for life' , but without SC I can just as well buy a cheaper car."

-"If I have to pay extra, you bet I'll make sure to make that money back."

-"I have another car for long trips, but I want the bigger battery. Why am I forced to pay for SC, just to get a bigger battery?"

So, we have four types of users:
a) Don't need SC at all
b) Need SCs very rarely, but DO need it
c) Need SCs quite regularly
d) Need SCs all the time

a) will not want SC to be part of ANY variant of the Model3 (because no, it won't be "free" with the bigger battery, the extra cost be baked in). For them, I hope Tesla really means it, when the say "decoupled". It means "not tied to the M3 at all", not "sometimes comes with it, sometimes not". In fact, I'm more in favor of considering the implications of tying it to the owner, not the car. "For life" might then have to be more like "8-10 years".

b) will clearly want a more flexible approach. Whether that's per-use, flexible subscriptions or whatever is just a detail.

c) would be happy with paying 1-2k, because he already knows it's worth it over the next few years

d) would definitely be happy, but one hopes he would also feel bad for heavily exploiting/"misusing" the network

Unfortunately, I expect b) to be the most common case and that makes me worried that all-or-nothing will drive a large chunk of people in the "or nothing" corner, where they will just buy a cheap EV from someone else. The upcoming clarification will be very interesting and might have quite some impact on share value and reservations.

Most people can stop reading now...

Fun fact, I don't know if I will be in group a) or d). If I'm lucky I can get permission to install a charger at home or have one at the new office (won't need SCs at all, did one longer trip in 5 years and there's not even an SC along that route).

Otherwise, I'll have to rotate between 1-2 really slow chargers (one of which is apparently broken since 2014 and nobody bothers to fix it) and an inofficial SC at a nearby service center (only available during the week until 5pm). Guess what, me preferring pay-per-use is not because I'm cheap. If I was, I'd say "2k for life option please". It's because I might have to rely heavily on SCs for a while and DO actually want to pay appropriately for that heavy use.

For the SC option, I'd expect a reasonable amount of free use. For anything beyond "reasonable", I won't mind paying extra. Someone that almost never needs SCs would simply not get the option and always pay extra.

In terms of "but micro-transactions are stupid and cost more in fees than the electricity". Fees are generally a percentage of the amount. Small transfer, small fee. While it's silly to compare SCs to a business model built around that (iTunes), because it's literally Apple and oranges, there are plenty of ways to handle it. For example, Patreon takes the money from my Paypal account once a month. Another model could be billing whenever a certain amount is reached (very rare users might not pay at all, others might pay every week).

IF there was any per kWh/min/whatever approach, I'd expect Tesla billing me at the end of each month via CC/Paypal/etc. Charging that way would probably be a bit more expensive, because suddenly you need to hire extra people and possibly a whole new department to handle billing. Resulting fees can just be charged to the user. Plus, I would be surprised, if the existing network doesn't do all the book keeping already anyway. (If not everybody is eligible to use SCs, obviously your car must ID itself to the charger, the charger checks with the server, the server checks your account, Tesla knows when and where you charge how much and for how long).

Badbot | 2016年6月3日

The closest SC to me is 35 miles east and 52 miles west.
its been 5 years since I took a trip by car.
I think I will find other ways to charge if I ever go on a trip. I have more time than money.

Tiebreaker | 2016年6月4日

Don't you folks think that if Tesla ramps up production 10X, they may ramp up SC builds at some factor, 2X, 5X... 10X?

Or you think the number of SCs will stay frozen as of today?

cephellow | 2016年6月4日

Tesla needs to pay for the SC's, and has been doing it within the cost of its more expensive models. Initially, the s40's and S60's had to pay for SC access, because tesla had initially suspected that price sensitivity would affect demand. This did not turn out to be the case.
The model 3 is price sensitive, and so supercharging will be decoupled. However, I do not believe it will be totally decoupled, but something like 'You will get 15 supercharging sessions per year included in the cost of the car'.
This will solve many problems:
It will not require a separate billing structure
It will avoid stranded model 3 drivers by giving them an opportunity to learn how to manage their charging before being put to the test
It will give all model 3 owners an opportunity to see what supercharging is like so that they can make a more informed choice about buying a supercharging package (same was done with AP)
It will prevent Buffet model from overwhelming charger infrastructure
It will satisfy most middle class young family needs by allowing vacation travel 2 weeks out of the year without having to shell out 2K.

topher | 2016年6月5日


Sounds like a reasonable compromise.

But at some level, limited resources on a single (or even double) payment model is going to lead to problems. There are already people who think 'free for life' means they can use as much as they want, without that causing a breakdown in the system.

Thank you kindly.

deezy9190 | 2016年6月5日

I totally agree that the subscription model is right on track and is doing wonders for growing the SC network.

The only change I would propose is some sort of short term access for people that typically do not travel but want to.

The main point is to make it a significant drawback to use the monthly option multiple times as oppose to just buying the lifetime option. In this way you still push people towards the bigger funding option, give access to people that can not afford to finance an extra $2k on their car when they may use it only a few times a year, and you reduce congestion at SCs based in the middle of large cities where people are attempting to use that as a regular charger to recoup their investment.

Red Sage ca us | 2016年6月5日

Any 'solution' that results in no one using the Supercharger network defeats the purpose of the Supercharger network. You would drive away legitimate users before you stifled the actions of 'abusers'. The idea is to encourage travel in electric cars, so as to provide real world examples to those who encounter them for the first time.

dachuyn | 2016年6月6日

Supercharge should be for long trip travel only. Tesla needs to figure out a way to track abuse, e.g using GPS to monitor car location to disallow abuses :-) For example, you cant use SC stations close to where you are living ...

SamO | 2016年6月6日

Great idea! Let's turn Tesla into panty sniffers and cops. Great way to have a customer relationship! Can't wait for them to move to a fee for service model so they can be just like a gas station. Maybe they can sell cars through middlemen and complete the transformation.


dachuyn | 2016年6月6日

Have to add that when abuses can be eliminated, $500-$1000 lifetime SC access options would seem reasonable for both Tesla and owners...

adias.angel | 2016年6月6日

"cephellow: It will satisfy most middle class young family needs by allowing vacation travel 2 weeks out of the year without having to shell out 2K."

+1. This is it exactly.

finman100 | 2016年6月6日

So, that 2 week vacation every year for 5 years is better (cheaper) on gasoline than on electrons?

Math time!

I am assuming gasoline costs for a 2 week trip once per year for 5 years is more than two grand.

500 mile trip (1,000 miles round trip) / 25 MPG = 40 gallons. times 3 bucks a gallon = $120.

Times the 5 years = $600.

See, even I can admit I assumed wrong!

Okay longer vacations/more expensive gas/poorer MPG times 7 years! That'll work...

I really think $1000 upfront one-time Supercharger fee will sway ALOT of Model 3 wannabes. I'm in that camp. Anything more and I would have to start "assuming" other things...and justifying the option. I would do it, but it's a no-brainer at 1 grand.

Tstolz | 2016年6月6日

ALOT .... no no no ... it is 'a lot' unless you are talking of an allotment of something :)

sorry ... pet peeve

Red Sage ca us | 2016年6月6日

I write the way I speak. You may notice I use the phrase 'a lot'... a lot.