Tesla has confirmed that it will soon begin implementing congestion fees at high-traffic Supercharging stations across the U.S.
In a move previously spotted by a notorious Tesla software hacker, the all-electric automaker has begun to roll out controversial “congestion fees” of $1 per minute at select Superchargers. This feel is meant to discourage customers from charging their cars to 100%, effectively allowing more vehicles to utilize the Supercharging network with a minimal wait time in high-traffic areas or during busy travel times.
Effectively, these congestion charges will replace idle fees at select Supercharging stations. When a vehicle reaches a certain State of Charge (SoC), the congestion charges will kick in to make charging more expensive, effectively promoting the owner of the vehicle to stop charging sooner or face a more expensive charging session.
Tesla says that its congestion fee will bill drivers at a rate of $1 per minute and kick in once a vehicle has reached an SoC of 90%.
Presently, drivers are charged an idle fee of $0.50 per minute once the vehicle reaches its desired SoC or 100%. If every stall is occupied, that fee doubles. With its new congestion fees, these idle fees will be eliminated and instead, bill owners at a rate of $1 per minute for each minute that the vehicle is connected to the charger above 90%—including idle activity.
“The Tesla app notifies you when your vehicle passed the charge level threshold or when charging is complete. Congestion fees then accrue when the station is at capacity until your vehicle is moved,” reads Tesla’s support site on the matter. It later continues: “There is not a limit on the amount of idle or congestion fees that may accrue,”
It’s not clear if the SoC or fee rate will vary across Supercharging locations, though Tesla notes that the congestion fee itself will be displayed on a vehicle’s touch screen when selecting a Supercharger, meaning that this could be a variable in the future.
As of now, these fees will be applied to “certain” Supercharging stations in the United States. Tesla says that if a station “is busy” these congestion fees will automatically apply, even if there are stalls available. And like idle fees, congestion fees will also apply for owners with vehicles that have free lifetime Supercharging access, but only after the vehicle has finished charging.
"This fee encourages drivers to charge only as much as is needed for their trip, rather than all the way to 100%," writes Tesla. "This increases the availability of Superchargers so that everyone has access when they need it.”
Likely, this move is part of Tesla’s approach to curb owners from parking at high-use Superchargers at slower charging rates. Many new owners aren’t aware of widely accepted charging etiquette, resulting in owners squatting in spots to charge their vehicles to 100%, even if their trip doesn’t call for it. Now, as Tesla begins plans to open its Supercharging stations to other vehicles—many of which announced the switch to NACS as early as next year—it faces the potential of a significant uptick in vehicles, which could equate to higher congestion at the charger as the automaker scales its already-robust charging network.