Most Tesla Model S Owners OK With Supercharger Abuse Emails, But Concerned For Future

AUG 15 2015 BY JAY COLE 91

On Thursday, Tesla Motors started sending out Supercharger abuse emails to Model S owners that the company (or some random algorithm) determined were using the stations too frequent and/or as a home base for charging over residential options.

How Do Tesla Model S Owners Really Feel About Supercharger Usage Emails?

How Do Tesla Model S Owners Really Feel About Supercharger Usage Emails?

This statement in particular (below) was the “hot button” moment for specific individuals centered out:

“As a frequent user of local Superchargers, we ask that you decrease your local Supercharging and promptly move your Model S once charging is complete.”

And as one can tell by the rather lengthy, and varied, community comments in that story (here), there was a lot of very strong opinions; some from Model S owners, some from shareholders and some from concerned, potential future Model 3 drivers.

But what of Model S owners overall?

We spoke to quite a few of them, and the consensus by far was that the email was a reasonable request, and that it needed to be sent – but also that the Tesla PR department did a pretty terrible job both in the wording of the email, and who they sent it out to.

On the flip side of the coin, almost everyone who did receive the letter – perhaps unsurprisingly, were very vocal that they had done nothing wrong.

Some stated they had only used Superchargers a handful of times and should not have received it at all, while others said it was within their rights to use them “as much as they like” – ironically quoting Tesla’s own former online literature on Supercharging usage (although perhaps debatably out of context).

Local Or Long Distance?  (via PlugInsights)

Local Or Long Distance? (via PlugInsights)

We also spoke with Norman Hajjar, who is the Managing Director of PlugInsights, a data collection/survey research firm (although many will be more familiar with sister company – PlugShare).

Norman mentioned to us that his company had compiled some statistical data from over 700 Model S owners that backed up our own impressions of the reaction to the note, as well as adding further depth on current owners concerns about future Supercharger usage.

In fact less than 1 in 5 thought any email warnings would be “of concern” to them, but only about half agreed with Mr. Musk that Supercharging should be for long distance travelling only.

Editor’s Note: PlugInsights had taken the survey of owners after the June shareholder’s meeting where CEO Elon Musk had mentioned that Supercharging was really intended for long distance travelling only, and that Model S owners who aggressively charged locally may be getting an email.

Tesla Owners Concerns About Overcrowding (via PlugInsights)

Tesla Owners Concerns About Overcrowding Are Clear (via PlugInsights)

Our thanks to Norman and PlugInsights for the data charts!


Categories: Tesla


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91 Comments on "Most Tesla Model S Owners OK With Supercharger Abuse Emails, But Concerned For Future"

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As with the “bricking” issue with the Tesla Roadster, Tesla is “in the right” in that it did always describe “free, unlimited use, forever” in the context of long-distance travel. Quotes by the media, including a lot of headlines, were not nearly so careful to place the description of “free unlimited” use only in that context. As with the “bricking” issue, Tesla being “in the right” doesn’t prevent them from really bungling the public relations aspect of this. But there is one very important difference between this situation and the “bricking” issue: Bricking was never a significant financial problem for Tesla. The company could, and eventually did, absorb the cost of the few battery packs which were “bricked” and had to be replaced. Not so with the Supercharger issue. It was inevitable and entirely predictable that the “overhead” cost of continually expanding and powering the Supercharger network would eventually grow to a size which would become uncomfortably expensive for Tesla. Tesla Motors obviously does not like being backed into a corner here, but it will be forced to institute some sort of “Terms of service” limiting Supercharger use, to prevent what it perceives as abuse; particularly by taxis and “Uber”… Read more »

Addendum: I should have made it clear that this post was written from the perspective of trying to see things from Tesla’s viewpoint.

But there is an equally valid counter view, based on a direct quote from Elon Musk: “Tesla is demonstrating just how fundamentally better electric transport can be. We are giving Model S the ability to drive almost anywhere for free on pure sunlight.”

Nothing was said in that quote putting it into the context of only long-distance travel. The implication there is that Model S drivers are free to use Superchargers whenever and wherever they want. I certainly think it’s reasonable to claim that Tesla Model S owners were given that impression by Tesla’s own PR.

I’ve gone into much more detail about this in comments on the previous article here, for those who are interested and haven’t already read the comments on that article.

I’d say your addendum is spot on. You can’t say at the point of sale that you can charge free anywhere and then claim there are limits later. Doesn’t work that way. Hopefully they won’t make the novel claim that the limits were established at the 2015 shareholder meeting. That would be hilarious but sad. I’ve never heard of a customer even needing to be aware of a shareholder meeting much less be bound by what is said there. The problem here is that Tesla just didn’t think this through. In an attempt to make marketing points they made broad claims about supercharging being “free”, apparently not understanding that you can never supply enough of a free good. In this case I don’t think it’s the expense of providing the electricity, it’s the congestion at the charging stations. Expensive and possibly impractical to have more stations. This isn’t any new though. We saw the same thing with public charging with the J1772 chargers. When charging was free every charging station was occupied. Now that you have to pay, it’s easy to find a spot. No doubt Tesla will find a solution, but at the moment it seems to have a… Read more »

“…if there aren’t enough charging stations now, what what happens if Tesla succeeds in rolling out a vehicle at a more mainstream price?”

Yup. Precisely why I keep saying that Tesla will have to institute some sort of limitation, and issue official “Terms of service”, for use of its Superchargers, before they start selling the Model ≡. Tesla will do so reluctantly, but I firmly believe it’s a business necessity.

With the release of the new CHAdeMO Adapter – Tesla Owners who bought that are becoming familiar with the CHAdeMO spots and using them as required, so – I wonder if Tesla Motors could institute a ‘Local Quick Charging Service’ at something like 60-80 kW (a bit faster, or almost double the rate that most CHAdeMO Chargers deliver – typically 44 – 50 kW)? If they could – install them at Malls, Parking Lots, Theaters, etc., they would have spots that people would find value in frequenting with their Model S or Model 3! At the lower rate – their demand charges should be less, and for most Tesla cars – 45 minutes to 90 minutes would be the maximum use time! This could be instituted using the same building blocks they use for the Supercharger, and be made to look a bit different, and be usable locally – by Any Tesla Vehicle, for a moderate Fee – if not Free, but instituted with the express purpose of serving the Current and Future ‘Abusers’ of the current Superchargers. They could be designed with an APP – for access, that tracks use, for monthly billing, and if the cost was just… Read more »

Robert +1, I think that’s a workable solution for people without the means to charge at home or at work. Seems like there would be plenty of bars/restaurants that would like to have people drop in for 45-90 minutes a couple of days/week.

This can be resolved in part by unexpensive GigaFactory made batteries coupled with well priced solar canopies from SolarCity. If the price is right, theorically the Super-Charger network could expand almost indefinitely. Good for Model 3, 4, 5 …

Tesla stopped letting customers charge at their HPWC at gallery locations in some places. The local Tesla store near me blocks their three HPWC on weekends when they are closed – obviously shutting down the ability of owners travelling through the area of getting a charge during closed-hours. Obviously, could be an insurance issue of “people on premesis without oversight” – but also could be “let’s save electricity costs as well!”.

This is really sad. Local Nissan and GM dealers keep their lots open so their brand of electric cars can charge anytime.
Now owners discover the real Elon stealerships.

Do you suppose “See Through” will slip up someday, and post something about Tesla which is actually true?

I almost spit out my coffee on that one!

Actually, in response to another article, he claims to own a Chevy Spark.

But why take a pathological liar’s word for it…

Grammar Nazi says:

“(or so random algorithm)”

Perhaps that should read “some random algorithm”?

Just wait until those 500K Model 3 owners show up… LOL.

Tesla better change its policy or it is going to have issues on its hand…

Need to consider the policy for Model X as well. First few thousand will be in California, the hometown area where peak daytime electricity costs may be the cause of all this. Soccer-moms stopping at the supercharger for a refill during their daily rounds are going to get scolded. Bad soccer-moms.

The flood of Teslas will jam up all the Chamo quick chargers for the low range EV’s unless the quick charger owners can start building far more of them.

Probably too late for Tesla to qualify current owner rights to supercharge, it will have to put up with their behaviour for as long as they own the car. Of course there is no problem with an Email asking for more discretionary use but Tesla shouldn’t forget to use the magic word…please!

For new owners the terms of use for usage of the Supercharger network should be made more clear. For Model 3: that’s going to be an interesting conundrum. Only for long distances of course and it can only be “free” if enough of a contribution for the supercharger network can be baked into the price to pay for upkeep.

Note that baking in $1000 would generate $100 million a year if Tesla manages to shift a 100K model 3s a year in the US which for all I know might go a long way for the upkeep of the Supercharging network.

Tesla formerly charged $2000 as an access fee for the Supercharger network, and presumably that is now “included in the price” of new Model S’s. Here’s something interesting to consider: The Model ≡ is said to be a nominally 200 mile car, whereas Tesla advertises the Model S as a “300 mile car”, or at least it used to. So with the Model ≡ apparently having 2/3 the range, does that mean we should expect Model ≡’s to be using Superchargers more frequently? Common sense says that’s exactly what we should expect. Shorter-range BEVs need more frequently en-route recharging. So, will Tesla have a higher fee for Supercharging “baked into” the Model ≡? Or will it be only an option you have to pay for, never “standard equipment”? Or will Tesla move to place limits on Model ≡ use of Superchargers? Elon has been quote as saying Model ≡ use of Superchargers will also be “free”… but he didn’t say unlimited. Could it be that Supercharger use will be free up to X number of kWh per month, and perhaps Tesla will charge a per-kWh fee beyond that limit? All we can do is speculate at this point. I strongly… Read more »

Unless the III gets a supercharger access baked in, and usage is $x.xx per fill up regardless of soc.

Tesla only charged the $2000 fee for the entry level model, all others always had it baked into the price. Since Model 3 is supposed to sell a 100K+ units/year in the US it makes sense that the supercharger fee per car can be lower. Elon Musk always talks about 200 miles of “useful” range for Model 3. That’s not the same as saying 200 miles of EPA rated range but it’s not the same as the ideal circumstances only 300 mile range claims that Tesla had for Model S at one time either. I doubt a no local supercharger abuse qualification is really going to hurt Tesla sales as few buyers actually plan to use their cars that way I imagine. Apparently Tesla has always implied it was for long range use only though it might not have quoted that particular provision in all its communications. I think legally rights depend on what sort of deal buyers were given in black and white on their supercharger network access. Surely there must be a terms of use policy somewhere that Tesla can refer to and that buyers could have informed themselves about. Caveat emptor… For Model 3 Tesla will need… Read more »

Chris O said:

“Since Model 3 is supposed to sell a 100K+ units/year in the US it makes sense that the supercharger fee per car can be lower.”

How so?

If Tesla wants to avoid undue congestion at Superchargers, then it needs to keep building new ones in areas they already exist, to handle the continual increase in traffic. This problem certainly won’t be lessened by the Model ≡ selling in larger numbers. If Tesla sells 10 times as many Model ≡’s per year as they’re currently selling Model S’s, then they’ll need to add Supercharger stalls at ten times the rate at which they’re currently adding them in areas where they already exist, to relieve congestion.

Or more likely, something like a third faster than ten times the rate of added Supercharger stalls, since the Model ≡ base range will be shorter, and thus Model ≡’s will need supercharged more often than Model S’s.

In other words, Chris O, moving to the Model ≡ is going to make the situation much, much worse for Tesla… not better. Unless, of course, Tesla moves to limit use of Superchargers in some fashion.

A comprehensive supercharger network needs to have a certain number of locations irrespective of the number of cars sold. Selling a lot more cars will mean the cost per car comes down as the extra investment needed gets lower. Making sure the superchargers are only used for long trips should keep investment needed per vehicle low.

I don’t think the poll supports the claims being made about it. This isn’t an election where you win if you get 51% of the vote for the simple reason that pissing off 49% of your customers is a kiss of death. I’m not sure what the number would be, but no company wants to annoy even 5% of its customers, much less 10% or 15% or 20%.

Particularly since Tesla may not have the greatest legal position in the world and there are way too many plaintiff lawyers in California. Now if it’s a request that customers are free to ignore that’s one thing, but if Tesla starts threatening to cut off charging privileges then this could get ugly in a hurry.

It says 4% strongly disagree. Those are the abusers. Tesla can do without them.

Any changes will be applied to customers who buy the car after the changes. Old customers,legally speaking, will have to be grandfathered in for unlimited use.

The current 70k customers or 100k customers when the policy changes will be a tiny fraction of the Tesla’s customers in 2025. Even more so in 2035.

For being early adopters, taking the risk on a new company with new technology, and helping Tesla grow sales by word of mouth current owners get unlimited,free, and forever charges. That especially applies to taxis and uber drivers who expose the vehicle to many many potential new buyers.

Yeup, classic Bell Curve.

Most Tesla Owners are reasonable human beings and therefore, Awesome. 🙂

But there will always be a vocal minority that can’t be reasoned with. Those people will likely get follow up letters, and perhaps– bills for “abuse charging” sometime in the future. That would stop the unnecessary parasitic charging behavior, making them shift back to home charging for their local usage, freeing up more stalls for more Tesla Vehicles that DO need legitimate access.

SuperChargers are for Long Distance Travel.

Tesla should release recent SuperCharger Usage Records, so we can see if charging behavior has been changed since the notices were sent out…

The “promptly move your Model S once charging is complete” is worded somewhat coarse but probably for a very good reason. I think Tesla has observed people who live or work close to their local supercharger using it as their more or less permanent private parking spot that comes with free fuel.

A couple of individuals showing that sort of behaviour could quickly make a supercharger location useless for other users.

Big problem!

Yeup. Tesla knows how long the cars sit after charging is completed. Unfortunately, some people are very self-absorbed, and don’t consider others needs around them. SC’s aren’t plentiful enough for that kind of behavior.

Home Charge for Local Use.

There you go! Next time the Teslarians eat and pee 10 times in a daylong journey for supercharging, they better not forget to go check the car every minute.

Or just use their phone app which would give them that information.

You little Spark owner.

He doesn’t own a Spark. Just a smokescreen to throw the moderators of the scent of his comment section disruption activities.

Hey Tesla, if you want to make money off your Super Charging locations, just put one or two CCS/CHAdeMO multi-chargers at each location and charge for each use by a non-Tesla vehicle.

I believe Tesla does not believe in assisting any other automakers. In the converse, it also is one reason no other automakers are partnering with them for shared componentry.

Your kidding right? Tesla is a complete whore, it’ll jump into bed with any auto maker for the right price. The SC network is, IMO, being built specifically to provide a second revenue stream for tesla. If others begin making cars that can drive between sc and take the power the agreements will be signed.

First time I’ve ever seen a company being accused of being “a complete whore” because they formed a legitimate partnership with another company; a partnership beneficial to both.

Are you perhaps a communist, or otherwise find capitalism to be morally depraved?

I Believe – the big problem is the Soccer Mom/Office Worker Mentality – thinking of the signs I see at most charging stations – the Sign itself is worded wrong. They typically say: “Electric Vehicle Parking Only” – And that word – PARKING – is the thing that people often follow – Religiously! If the signs were reworded to “Electric Vehicle Charging Only” – they would have solved the first part of the communication problem! For Local users – and – anyone for that matter – should not need a Special ‘Electric Vehicle Parking Spot!’ Of course – some abusers even take it a step further than not moving after they are charged, by simply – parking in the ‘Electric Vehicle Parking Only’ – spot, and not even plugging in! I have said – locally for some time – that EV Charging Stations should be such that (especially those that are networked) have a camera in them – that takes a picture of the licence plate of vehicles as they arrive, and if the vehicle is not plugged in within 5 minutes, it send off the owner a notice, and the information to the local Police – to issue a… Read more »

Well, Tesla can include a CHAdeMO cord with every Tesla for free. Instead of charging $500. Then, they could allow the owners to choose whether to use the growing CHAdeMO network of 50KW chargers, Nissan sites (if they don’t get kicked out) and more options. But however, they offer Superchargers in many convenient places and charge for the CHAdeMO cable. If this really is a “big deal” send every Tesla owner in California a free CHAdeMO cable.

I really think Tesla should build some Chamo chargers even if they charge money for them for other EV’s The reason is that a lot of Tesla Cars go to the Nissan dealerships to charge up.

Gotta say the Volt is worth mentioning here. SuperCharging at gas stations for the rare long distance trip but avoiding them for all local driving. No abuse necessary.

Starting out saying superchargers are free for life…then saying “oh, don’t use them if you live near one!” is a form of bait-and-switch. And very petty in the big picture unless electricity costs in California are playing a deep economic problem for Tesla in California during mid-day peak charging. And if so – where are the solar modules and batteries at superchargers that they made such a “big deal” about last year and prior?

You’re just likely to burn more oil and happily dump carbon into the atmosphere, because it’s “a hybrid”.

Sustainable transport? Problem –NOT– solved by either generation of the GM Volt.

Let’s not make perfect the enemy of the good. The electrification of transport is a process, and the Volt gets us there 80% of the way, at moderate cost, and with just the need of a 110V plug and the capacity to charge overnight, which is ubiquitous. It provides an immediate “bang for the buck”, while the ultimate solutions are developed and refined.

Well said, sir.

Furthermore, at least some Volt drivers do charge up en route to extend their electric range, even though they could burn gas. (See Source 1 below)

People buy the Volt for at least one of the same reasons they buy the Leaf or the Model S: To use as little gasoline as possible.

I don’t think BEV owners are in a position, collectively, to look down on Volt owners. Many of those Leaf or Model S owners own a second car, which is a gasmobile. If you look at the annual mileage by Leaf owners — 9,697 miles (source 2 below) — and how much lower it is than the national average, about 14,000 miles — that strongly suggests a lot of those Leaf owners are driving a gasmobile a lot of the time. So perhaps many of them are actually using more gasoline per year than the average Volt owner… not less.

Source 1:

Source 2:

Yes. Burning coal and gas to charge the Teslas is way better than driving a 57 mpg hybrid on the rare road trips.

The difference you forget is that a Tesla can also get it’s power from Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Tidal, and Hydroelectric generated electricity.

And that power doesn’t originate from a conflict area, or have to pollute a natural resource.

Let’s see and ICE do that.

In my state, a 2016 Volt that is never charged is more green (well to wheels) than one that never uses gas. So don’t be hating on the hybrids, especially when there are so many regions in the US that are dominated by coal.

Why bring in an ICE mentioning the Volt? In that context all gas cars “supercharge” at gas stations. Little relation to EV discussion.

The point is “how do we cut oil usage??” Well, taking someone out of a 20mpg to 25mpg car and get them into a Volt and their gas usage can go up “easily” to 100mpg or higher. I feel that is a great thing to do – imagine cutting your oil usage by 75%?

The binary thinking here . that it has to be GAS or BEV only is what causes strife to consumers. BEV is not convenient enough (slow recharging – not 5 minutes like Gasoline) is what keeps people from going electric. The Volt “idea” makes perfect sense. If everyone drove a Volt – the national gasoline usage would drop 60-80% for those who make the change. Isn’t that the point of all this?

Ok sure – BEV has less moving parts. But a BEV driver claiming that 99% of the cars around them are bad and that someone driving a Volt may burn a few gallons a month, at most, is pure ideology and perhaps “bigotry” thinking that their way is the only way. I’m sorry to say, it is myopic.

+100 Bonaire.

I do think BEVs will be the car of the ultimate future, but an average driver would cut their gasoline usage by probably 90% with the 2016 Volt’s 53 mile range.

People have to get around their monkey brain of “either-or”. Monkey brain is either do this -or- that. But not “maybe there is a third way?”

Monkey sees an orange in a jar. Puts in hand, grabs orange. Now, hand won’t pull out of the jar. Releases orange. Orange is still in the jar. Monkey is confused. A third option which thinks outside the box is – break the jar. You can only eat the orange and not eat the jar. If the jar is hard to break, go get a big rock and do it.

I think the Volt is what all battery engineers should be driving to work while they come up with the type of battery that makes BEVs really viable – something in the 400-500 Wh/kg range. Tesla is “kinda there” with the big giant battery and high speed charging network, but now, you can only use their network if you are travelling. Well, for those who were told by their Tesla sales rep “free supercharging for life” when they bought the car, this bait-and-switch proves that their formula may be flawed.

The freaky thing is – if they do find a 450 Wh/kg battery then the Volt would become a 200 mile range car not needing the engine at all – still using the T-pack. Tesla would jump to 600 mile range but nobody really needs that, truthfully. The real sweet spot is daily driving – 40-60 miles. The problem is people buy for their “outlier conditions”. Drive 30 miles a day but 350 miles four times a year. So they “need” a car with 350 mile range. That is first-world problems right there.

That is not a first world thing what is the real thing is people who live in a rural area or people who mega commit. In my current set up I can get a low range EV with 60 to 80 miles of range. But the catch I have is that I can buy a leaf or a i-miev. But if I get a new job the next day that is farther then 30 miles one way to work the EV would be useless to me.

Huh? I’ve driven back and forth to and from Chicago several times, a distance of 650 miles at highway speeds, and most of that with a time constraint.

Why do people say “No one needs that”, when the statement only applies to them?

Agree on the bait and switch, the confusion and uncertainty this has created. Tesla was supposed to ameliorate both with regards to auto ownership and specifically EVs. They were also supposed to install solar panel canopies with or without battery storage. Whatever happened to that?

There is no way any solar modules co-located with the SC will make enough power to charge Teslas using that SC. It would be just for show and shade.

They could be powered by off-site solar with a big enough capacity though.

Exactly. The “powered by solar energy” thing was always nearly pure hype on the part of Tesla, and the figures make it pretty clear they never intended to follow through on that. According to figures a friend of mind did (so I don’t guarantee the accuracy), generating sufficient power to charge just one Model S would need a solar farm the size of a football field. Even if this was buffered by on-site battery packs at the Supercharger locations, the few Supercharger stations with solar canopies hardly make a significant dent in the amount of power they need every day.

Much as I love what Tesla has achieved and what it is striving for, the level of hype they put into their advertising is unconscionable.

Hi, I am also a friend of “mind” 😉

…so I did the math:

A football field (soccer 😉 ) has an area of approx: 7140 m2
A not too fancy solar module (90$ /100 W) has the following specs:
size: 1006*664*35mm => Area is approx: 0,68 m2
=> peak power per square meter = 100/0,68= 147 W/m2
=> peak power generated by a football (soccer field) full of those modules (including a loss of let’s say 10% for the distance between the modules) is:
147 W/m2 * 7140 m2 * 0,9 =

944 kW/soccer field
(given a sunny day)
that’s more power than a SuperCharger needs, and although I’m neither into soccer nor into american football, I have the feeling that a football field as you imagine it is bigger… Stop! it’s not, wow google just said: 5,351.2151 square meters, ok that would roughly give

707 kW/football field

to make calculation easy I assume a supercharger has 100 kW, so one football field can provide (peak) power for 7 superchargers.

(Disclaimer: calculation is messy. World would be easier if more people would use SI-units. I just wasted another 3 minutes of my life! Cool!)

IMO this is a very interesting change in Tesla’s sales pitch. It appears that the issue is with congestion at the charging stations rather than cost. Maybe I am wrong but if this is the case then it really changes my view on some things. I have been thinking a lot lately about why we don’t have higher sales of ev’s and when will we see a step change. Cost, production constraints and range I think will become less of an issue in the next 3-4 years. This should lead to far higher sales but can we get to serious 20-50% sales? I’m not sure, if Tesla is being constrained by public infrastructure now what on earth will happen in 5 years?

Will it always be that ev’s can only be owned by those with access to home or work charging? That would suck. The promise was we’ll sell rich men’s toys to pay to develop an alternative to oil for the masses. I still think Tesla are /is a fantastic achievement but all I seem to be seeing lately is a premium brand emerging that will be exclusive in nature. Not really the tesla of 5 years ago.

So some minority of Supercharger sites have a problem with congestion, and Tesla is now taking a first step to deal with it. It will be easy for Tesla to institute terms of service (TOS) for future buyers that will solve the problem. For now I guess they will be limited to nagging people who abuse, maybe enforcing some new rules about parking at a Supercharger when not charging, maybe instituting a commercial use rule.

But with some limitations on local use, combined with a pay per use option for locals who actually do need to use it regularly, these steps will let Tesla control this nascent problem.

Charging $2k to enable Supercharging on a Model 3 will generate huge sums of money that can be re-invested in infrastructure. Combine those massive new investments with some TOS, problem solved. I still think Supercharging is self-evidently a vastly easier clean-energy refueling paradigm than hydrogen stations.

Just_Chris said:

“It appears that the issue is with congestion at the charging stations rather than cost.”

I’m guessing when you say “cost” here, you mean the cost of electricity.

I’m sure that’s part of the problem which presumably Tesla is having with the increasing overhead of the Supercharger network, but a bigger problem is the cost of continually needing to add more stalls to areas which already have Superchargers. So long as the number of Tesla cars on the roads continues to climb, so long as Tesla continues to sell cars faster than they’re retired, then it will need to keep adding Supercharger stalls. The only way to relieve congestion is to build more Supercharger stalls.

That is, assuming Tesla intends to keep the promise of “unlimited use, free, forever”. The e-mail from Tesla which has touched off this discussion and controversy suggests they finally realized that it wasn’t smart of them to make that promise, and now they’re looking around for a way to wriggle out of it.

Just_Chris asked:

“I’m not sure, if Tesla is being constrained by public infrastructure now what on earth will happen in 5 years?”

It would be interesting to look back at the motorcar revolution, and see how long it took to pave all the roads, and to build parking lots and curbside parking in all our cities.

Looking only five years ahead, that doesn’t look very promising. But a generation from now, most public parking places should be within easy extension cord reach of a 220v outlet for slow EV charging. Yes, even curbside parking in residential areas. When there is sufficient demand, cities and entrepreneurs will respond by installing the needed infrastructure.

As has been said: Technological revolutions take longer than we think, but are more transformative than we expect.

Only 5% of less of charging is from Superchargers, so I’d be curious how many people actually got this letter.

If Tesla wants to stop local charging, don’t put any Superchargers near any larger cities. They somewhat did this, but I guess they didn’t do it well enough.

This whole thing could be everyone making a mountain out of a molehill. We really need the data to be able to see what is happening.

On the German Tesla webpage Tesla themself did advertise, that 30% SuperCharger usage is normal usage. (Scoll to the bottom to Benzinkosten Ersparnisse)

I think the best option is for Tesla to allow 5 charges per super charger per month. Beyond 5 they will begin charging you a fee. This would limit people abusing the same super charger constant with local travel, but allow someone on a road trip to drive without having to pay.

A coast to coast trip will take around 30 charges, and it’s 60 if you want to get back home. A limit of 5 would destroy Tesla.

Per charger per month!

Not to say it’s a great idea, but what he said was ” 5 charges PER SUPERCHARGER per month”, not ‘5 Supercharger uses per month’ which would limit the coast to coast trip you suggest, but as he put it – even on your coast to coast trip, it’s not so likely you would stop at the same charger more than 5 times, at each stop – unless you were touring the area around each Supercharger at each time (for a week!)! If you are using the same supercharger for over 5 times per month, every month, it’s a good bet you are using one close to home, AND you do a lot of driving! (250 miles per supercharge – for example, X 5 uses at the same one = 1,250 local miles driven on the local superchargers bill!) Actually – I would think that Tesla knows to whom they sold a HPWC for the Model S – but they would not so easily know who just installed a NEMA 14-50 in the Garage, since the car comes with the universal charging cord and adapters to use that, and other, plugs! However – since they can track the cars data,… Read more »

An annual limit would make more sense than a monthly one, following the purpose of Superchargers enabling “road trips”. People should be able to take their annual vacation and/or travel out of town for important trips like weddings and funerals, without needing to worry about exceeding the monthly limit.

But I don’t think any limit based on the number of times you stop at a Supercharger station makes much sense. The guy who stops four times in a month for a 10 minute charge still causes less congestion than a single stop for a 60 minute charge.

Any limit should be based on kWh consumed or minutes sitting in a Supercharger stall. Not the number of stops.

Regarding congestion, it’s not like gas stations have never been congested. These things have a way of working themselves out. Demand = more stations created/expanded.

Yes, if you pay for the fuel. But Tesla S owners usually feel they’ve ALREADY paid all they ever need to pay, since THAT was the AGREEMENT. Spend $2000 and fuel up anywhere, at anytime as often as you like. Problem is 1). People believed Tesla was being truthful. 2). Tesla has developed an ongoing problem for themselves: Having never owned an S, I’ve never Used a Supercharger. But when they came out, I posited that Tesla would have difficulty going over 150 kw. Many attacked, saying Tesla will go to 300 kw, and even 1000 kw is deireable. The problem is, with the EMAILS in 2015, they have reached the near end of this admittedly Ponzi scheme. For the current supercharger model to cover its costs, Tesla needs to keep doubling its sales in the states, something which has stopped. With fewer people purchasing cars, there’s not as many $2000/car that Tesla needs. What to do? Tesla has promised free supercharging anywhere and everywhere to existing customers. The only way I see them able to slightly weasle out of that agreement is to say, allow 120 kw the FIRST time a user stops at a given Supercharger site each… Read more »
Ok now how would the above plan be implemented since the S’s internal chargers in the car in question are disabled? The software IN THE CAR would implement the policy. It could try ‘loading down’ the Supercharger, and thereby determine what the situation is. Example: Lets say, under the new topology, there are 4 car stalls per charger bay, as opposed to 2 now. 1). Lets call the four cars a,b,c,and d 2). Car A has done charging and is waiting for its owner to return. 3). Car B is a legitimate traveler and can use all the juice it can get (up to 120 kw on a dead battery). 4). Cars C, and D are local overusing hogs. The cars on C and D would only switch on their relays (or whatever switching facility there is on the car) for 10 seconds out of 60. Since all cars would monitor the charging voltage, Car D would turn on for 10 seconds when it ‘saw’ that car C had turned off, and vice versa. The end result is to get the most use out of the existing 120 kw charger bay, and to substantially send most of its juice to… Read more »
Bill Howland said: “The only way I see them able to slightly weasle [sic] out of that agreement is to say, allow 120 kw the FIRST time a user stops at a given Supercharger site each month. Then, for all subsequent visits, the car would be told to only use 25 kw at this site.” If the real problem is congestion, not the cost of electricity to charge the car, then reducing charge speed will only make the problem worse, not better. The natural way to limit usage is by charging a fee for every use. If the fee is higher than the local cost for electricity, then that would virtually eliminate what Tesla is trying to discourage, which is people using Superchargers to avoid the cost of charging at home. If Tesla plans to keep to the “free unlimited use” after paying the access fee, even if they can somehow limit it to long-distance trips only, then they’re going to have to get creative on how they limit access. I personally don’t see how they can possibly keep any sort of “free unlimited” use when they start selling the Model ≡, unless they sharply increase the access fee to… Read more »
Bill Howland said: “Yes, if you pay for the fuel.” Correct. Allowing the market to seek its own level with supply and demand is, as experience shows, a good way to satisfy demand. Capitalism does work, especially if it’s properly regulated. But Tesla is installing Superchargers at its own expense, so supply and demand does not directly apply here. Nothing is going to force Tesla to build more Superchargers to deal with congestion in any area. Bad publicity from crowded Superchargers may motivate Tesla to build more stalls in certain areas, but it’s not like anybody could successfully sue Tesla over congestion. Tesla never promised a customer wouldn’t have to wait in line for Supercharger access. “The problem is, with the EMAILS in 2015, they have reached the near end of this admittedly Ponzi scheme.” It’s useful to compare buildout of the Supercharger system with a Ponzi pyramid scheme, but the analogy doesn’t go very far. I think a better analogy is to consider the Supercharger network as a retail loss leader. Presumably Tesla’s overall cost for the Supercharger network is more than the $2000 per car it charges for access. (If not, then why would Tesla object to frequent… Read more »

That’s simply your conjecture, and you have nothing factual to base your opinions on.

And you are totally clueless as to the current Supercharger arrangement, since the juice coming from each charger is already shared between 2 stalls. Underline Totally.
I’m suggesting they make Lemonade out of the Lemons situation they have fast developing.

Notice all the Tesla Fanboys have been noticeably silent on this issue, since, Unfortunately, they were WRONG.

Tesla has deFacto admitted that they are not honoring what buyers thought was an ironclad agreement, after all, $2000 is alot of cash to most people.

I know I’m right because of all the commenters who are saying they NOW have second thoughts about a model 3, etc. Many are thinking that who don’t necessarily verbalize it.

Another thing where, at least you have the slightest bit of factual information is the Bricking of the Roadster, but here what you say also makes little sense since the agreement THERE stated the owner agreed to plug the car in. As I say, you have no shyness to making inaccuracies.

I said, “Now they may need to modify the above ‘protocol’ slightly. For instance, it may be permissible to visit a given location TWICE, during a vacation or something, but then *NOT* visit it again for 2 months.”

Now here’s the Knee-Slapper from PuPu:

“…SO, if I drive from L.A. to Las Vegas, I can’t stop at the same conveniently located halfway point Supercharger on the way back?..”

Someone please explain to PuPu what the word TWICE means, or how many times that is.

The uber and taxi use case is dead without a supercharger because it takes too long to charge with L2. So how many miles would they charge in say half an hour on a chademo charger as the plan-b? Also people without a large garage and their own over night charging can now forget buying one unless their workplace allows parking all day at an L2 charger. Maybe the fuel cell vehicle idea is not so stupid after all…

A taxi fleet can contract with Tesla to install a private Supercharger for fleet use only. Obviously in such a case, Tesla won’t be paying for the electricity.

There is already one case of Tesla installing a Supercharger for private use, so there is a precedent; see link below. That one doesn’t operate at full Supercharger current; perhaps the owner didn’t want to pay for such a high power hookup? But that private Supercharger looks just like any other Supercharger, with the Tesla logo in it, and presumably contains the same equipment. So I don’t think there is any reason why taxi services couldn’t pay Tesla to install one inside or outside their garage.

I don’t know about Uber fleets. If they don’t have fleets based out of a central location, like traditional taxi services, then it’s a lot harder to see how they could have Superchargers restricted to their private use. Perhaps there is a compromise solution: allow Uber customers to use Superchargers, but pay by the minute for access?

Only Tesla car driver will know this: The SuperCharger Warning Mail Anxiety

Tesla when you said I could use your superchargers for as many times as I want for the life of the car if I gave you 2000 cookies for unlimited charger access. Don’t go getting mad at me if I hold you up on the word unlimited charging access.

The single largest reason I would buy a Tesla (model 3) over a Leaf gen2 or a Bolt is because of the supercharger network. I don’t plan on abusing it, but if I can’t rely on it for the few times I plan on taking road trips, then I won’t buy a Tesla. They either need to update and future proof their network, or start charging people to deter abuse.

Hello? The solution is already here (for the congestion – reason Tesla used for the situation): battery swapping.

Ding ding ding ding ding!

Too bad that Tesla said no one wanted it, so I guess that sending the mail out is a better solution.

Those PlugInsights graphics are simply *awful*! Why not use the colour to represent the vote proportions? Your eye goes straight to the colour (as they are supposed to) and then you really have to fight with that to get to the actual information. Utterly hopeless! MW

I sincerely doubt that operating costs are the issue, here…or, at least, costs are clearly not the prime motivating factor. Congestion (the lack of access) is the issue at hand.

Tesla wants/needs to uphold their promise. The car has been uniquely designed to provide high acceleration, long range and the (necessary) fast charging with the available technology (many, many small cells), and the vehicles will continue to be built that way for the foreseeable future.

The SC network is paramount.

As such, Tesla wants/needs to uphold their guarantee of “free, unlimited” SC use, and they cannot afford to back down on that for future customers or for future models.

The SC model is one of the goodwill elements – the superior user experience – that Elon Musk wants/needs to maintain. Musk has always put a huge emphasis on user experience, from the ergonomics of the car to performance, maintenance and long-distance driving.

SC congestion must be reduced. As I see it, Musk has no choice but to make it right, without resorting to restricted charging or a fee structure.

The most annoying thing for me is that the letter sounded as a cry for help of a company that made a mistake and now is begging the customers to chip in. That’s not how a multi-billion dollar company behaves. If Tesla made a mistake in calculating the costs and uses of Superchargers, that is the problem that they have to resolve without threatening customers or begging them for help. If I remember correctly, Tesla charged $2,000 upfront for the unlimited use of Superchargers for the life of the vehicle (or the length of ownership). And that was not some ‘favor’ from the company, but it was pushed by the salesperson just as anything else they sell. They supposed to be smart engineers and clever salespeople, but they sold a service too cheap and now they are complaining. Although I don’t know the details of the use of Superchargers, I don’t believe it is the usage by itself, but Tesla serious miscalculation of the cost of building and maintaining the stations. Perhaps soon they will inform the owners that they should take shorter trips because driving too much will cause Tesla to pay too much for any warranty repairs. Or,… Read more »

Tesla has done a great job. This is a new product and there will be things that change over time.
I would feel ashamed to block a long distance traveler and fellow Telsa owner on a long trip just to try to gain some free electricity.
Off course Tesla must put up some guidelines for people how are so un polite.

You have hit the nail on the head, Tesla should simply raise the amount they charge for “unlimited” supercharging (for the original owners) so that over time they can fine tune their overall charging costs. I believe that their cost of installing Supercharging stations will also decrease and that together with the increased fee for “unlimited” supercharging will allow Tesla to “take the high road” and provide ever more “free” Supercharging stations. I don’t own a Tesla but unless I win a lottery, I would probably buy a used Tesla so that I would not be impacted by the “unlimited” charging agreement sold with new vehicles, but if I took a trip, I would want to be able to recharge as I traveled. Another thing Tesla could do is to promote Supercharging User Rules that prioritize the scheduling of each Supercharging station when it’s demand is high. For example local owners might have to allow traveling Owners to move up in the que, since they are “passing through”. As ever more Tesla’s are built, it would be wise for Tesla to stress Driver Courtesy, since that will not only add to the enjoyment of owning a Tesla but also of… Read more »

Have driven my model S 35000 miles , when I am at home the car is always on charge. I live 65 miles from the closest SC. Even if the the SC was on my street I would never charge there because those doing a long trip need to have access. I would be a bit disappointed if people who live close occupied the SC.
But on the other hand they only need to stand there for 10-15 minutes so maybe not so bad after all if the move there car when it is completed.
At home I have wait around while the car is charging and that is worth a lot more than the few dollars that I gain at sitting at a SC.

I think my plan of waiting a few years after first sales of the Model III is now an even better idea. Originally I just wanted to see what nifty goodies get added like with the Model S a few years after. Now I want to see how the whole supercharger usage drama plays out.