The ever-growing network of Tesla Supercharger stations makes it easier to own an electric car, but the days of Model S owners charging their batteries for free are almost over. Anyone who buys a Tesla after January 1, 2017 will be given a limited number of free charging credits, but when they're gone owners will have to pay for power.
According to Tesla, forcing new owners to pay for power isn't just about cutting costs. The company says it's designed to shape owner charging habits, encouraging them to plug in when the car is sitting still in their garages or office carparks. Although Superchargers are still there in an emergency, they're not designed to be the sole provider of battery charge on a day-to-day basis.
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The move to make people pay for power won't affect all Tesla owners. Instead, any car bought after January 1, 2017 will come with 400 kWh worth of free charging credits. That's enough to cover around 1,000 mi (1,609 km) for free, although once all the credits have been used up, owners will be forced to pay based on how much energy they're using. Car owners who bought a Tesla before that date won't be affected by the change.
Tesla is at pains to say it will still be cheaper to top up a battery than top up a gas tank, and promises the Supercharger stations will never be treated as a profit center. Instead, the money will be used to expand the network of charge stations and make life easier for electric car owners.
At the moment, there are more than 4,600 Superchargers scattered around the world, but that number is set to grow as the Model 3 hits the market.
Source: Tesla BlogView gallery - 3 images