Supercharging network will come at a cost for new Tesla owners

Another day, another significant development coming from Tesla. The electric car maker can’t seem to get out of the headlines these days and today is no different. Tesla just announced that beginning on January 1, 2017, new customers will no longer be able to use the automaker’s Supercharger network for free. Instead, Tesla will give these new customers credit in the form of 400 kWh of free Supercharging credits per year.

That translates to around 1,000 miles worth of range and anything above that will be “charged incrementally,” according to the company. To be clear, the changes will only apply to Tesla models ordered from January 1, 2017 onwards. Orders made previous to the set date will not be impacted so long as they take delivery of their cars before April 1, 2017.

The move may come as a surprise to a lot of people, especially those who were led to believe that the use of Tesla’s Supercharger network would be free for life. It’s an interesting about-face, but one that Tesla is doing in large part to “reinvest” into the network in order to expedite its growth. The company has yet to say how much it plans to charge model owners, but it did say that the cost would be “less than the price of filling up a comparable gas car” and that prices “may fluctuate over time and vary regionally based on the cost of electricity.”

In other words, there’s a supply and demand corollary here with the prices and affected model owners and prospective owners should take note of this, just in case this announcement affects their decision-making process in going forward with purchasing a Tesla model.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

That free-for-life charging offer didn’t last long, did it?

I can see both sides to this. I can see why Tesla did it and I can see why some people are going to be upset by this.

In Tesla’s case, this is purely a business move that’s tied into its goal of increasing its production from its goal of 80,000 units this year to as many as 500,000 units by 2018. You would think that Tesla is set up for that massive bump in production with the arrival of the Model 3, and while that may still be the case, it understands that it needs to make some money back wherever it can.

One way to do that is to implement a new policy for its Supercharger network, which by the way, is still the only one of its kind in the world today. It charges those batteries much faster than a standard home outlet and the cost of offering these chargers for free for life wouldn’t be sustainable if it didn’t change its methods. Let’s face it, Tesla pays for the electricity that comes from those charges and there have been some times when these networks have been abused by charging hogs who create massive lines in the charging station. Add that with the looming arrival of the mass-market Tesla Model 3 and you can understand why the company is trying to mitigate the electricity costs it would incur from these charging stations.

On the other hand, I can also understand why future Tesla owners would be miffed with this change in company policy. To be fair, it’s not like existing owners are affected, but those who buy a Tesla after January 1, 2017 will be affected. There could also be a problematic scenario wherein a customer already has an existing order for a Model S or a Model X and still get slighted on the free-for-life charging offer if they don’t take deliveries of their cars before April 1, 2017.

It’s an interesting decision to say the least and one that’s going to put even more heat, for better or worse, on Tesla. Granted, those who buy and take delivery of their Teslas before the year ends won’t have to worry about this issue. Those customers will still get the free-for-life charging deal.

Read our full review on the 2018 Tesla Model 3 here.

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