Tesla Taxi Driver Granted Unlimited Supercharger Use After Court Steps In

OCT 23 2018 BY MARK KANE 35

Tesla Superchargers will be used by this taxi driver for free.

Several years ago, when Tesla was introducing the Model S and the Supercharging network, the automaker promised that all cars are granted unlimited charging for free forever. The intention was to offer free unlimited charging for long-distance travel, but as some were using chargers to save on electricity (daily charging or commercial car use) and the stations became crowded, the policy changed – for new cars Tesla offers Supercharging for a fee (also idling isn’t free).

In the Netherlands, one of the customers bought a Tesla Model S in 2014 with the idea to use it as a taxi at Schiphol airport and to charge at a local Supercharger. Because the station wasn’t able to serve all cars, Tesla decided to cut off cars used as taxis from free charging during peak hours. The case landed in court, where a civil service judge from the Court of Amsterdam ruled in favor of a claimant who filed suit against Tesla.

“Car manufacturer Tesla must allow a taxi driver unlimited and free of charge to use his super-fast charging stations, also at the Amsterdam Zuidoost location,” – court statement

It’s an important lesson to clearly communicate intentions and if Supercharging is going to be free only for private use it needs to be described up front. Does this mean that all taxi drivers can use Superchargers? We are not sure. But provided they bought car with unlimited Supercharging, there now seems to be a landmark case in favor.

Here is the most important part of the court info, brought to us by Teslarati:

As read in the court statement:

In an e-mail dated 11 January 2018, Tesla informed a number of taxi drivers, including [the plaintiff], among other things:

” Increasingly, we are seeing a commercial use of the Supercharger (one of the charging stations for the Tesla, where electricity can be charged at high speed, viz.) In Amsterdam Zuidoost. This Supercharger is located at the same location as Tesla’s headquarters for Europe, also service center as well as sales location. This increasingly leads to queues for the Supercharger during peak hours and an unclear, and sometimes even dangerous (traffic) situation, for customers, employees, suppliers and other visitors. In view of (traffic) safety at this location, we reserve the right to change the access for taxis to this Supercharger in Amsterdam-Zuidoost after 31 January 2018, especially during peak hours, from 7:00 to 22 :00h, to limit. “

On the same day, [the plaintiff] protested against it by e-mail. This e-mail states, among other things: 
” At the time of the conclusion of our (purchase) agreement, it was expressly agreed at the time that I would be allowed to use all supercharges from Tesla in the world free of charge and without any restrictions. At the time of the conclusion of our agreement, it was entirely clear to Tesla that the vehicle purchased by me would be used as a taxi .”

Categories: Charging, Tesla

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35 Comments on "Tesla Taxi Driver Granted Unlimited Supercharger Use After Court Steps In"

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It’s a good stress test to see how his battery will hold up to daily Supercharging.

There is already some data (a small data set) on that from the Tesloop cars.


The problem is the battery has been replaced twice, first time at 194,000 miles…Would love to see the data of all Tesla’s that have made it to 200K that haven’t had their packs changed yet…

Agreed, though 194k is nothing to sneeze at either.

I can’t believe that Tesla did let this go to court.

Why? It is very typical of Elon. And not just Elon for that matter. Get all the advertising publicity from “FREE & UNLIMITED FOREVER”, and when time comes to actually deliver what was promised, cheat away, assuming few will want to cover huge litigation expense for some small claim.

The same for car return. Elon: “If you don’t like a Tesla for any reason or no reason, you can just give it back for a full refund”
Great publicity helping to sell cars like hot cakes, isn’t it?

Try to return “for no reason” if you are naive enough to believe car salesman: NOPE, just go away.

“Funding secured” indeed /s

I’ve been saying for years that Tesla should have specified, from the start, Terms of Service for the “free, unlimited, forever” use of Superchargers.

If Tesla had specified from the start that Superchargers are not to be used either for daily charging or for commercial use, then they wouldn’t be having this problem today. Well, not the particular problem which concerns this court case. They would still other problems with Supercharger use, such as people parking in stalls long-term, not moving them after they finish charging.

Or Parking in Stalls, WITHOUT Plugging in, as in the one Illinois case, were food service Staff, parked Their Cars, blocking the Superchargers!

Oh, I can beat that. The Rochester, MN supercharger famously had pallets of mulch blocking the supercharger for months.

The problem (for Tesla) is that calling it “Free” and “Unlimited” without stipulation certainly implies you can use it for anything. Hence the term unlimited.

At least they’ve pulled the reigns back a bit since then.

Yup, that is certainly a large part of the problem which Tesla created for itself here.

There even is a special term for it: ‘fair use policy’. Which also covers non-commercial use.

The only thing I remember from my paperwork is that the warranty was void if the vehicle was used for taxi service. I think a better strategy here would be for Tesla to install a private supercharger just for the taxi company. Had to be cheaper than legal fees.

They did installed private station in Netherlands for some other taxi company. With power restricted in around half as batteries would need to cope with driver need to charge daily.

It doesn’t apply to every individual taxi driver with his own car. He still has the right to get what he paid for and what was promised in writing (at that time), in whatever charging station is more convenient for him, that is why he paid huge sum of money for the car in the first place. Tesla got “free” publicity and sales in return “free charging” and “free battery replacements” for the life. Now Tesla needs to deliver it instead of doing what looks like attempt to defraud a taxi driver.

Probably more money than it’s worth, but Tesla could close that supercharging station and open another in a somewhat nearby location that is not convenient to the taxis and their normal routes. Or they could try issuing a statement that says “any Superchargers opened after X date are not part of the free, unlimited program and subject to fees.” Then open another one and charge for use.

Agree with what others have said, Tesla should be kicking themselves for not including proper language in the original agreement that bans commercial use and/or simply gives them the right to change the program in the future.

“…they could try issuing a statement that says ‘any Superchargers opened after X date are not part of the free, unlimited program and subject to fees.’ Then open another one and charge for use.”

Nope, they could not. Not legally, anyway. Tesla’s promise was clear, it was made in writing, and it included the terms “free (after paying the initial access fee), unlimited, forever” in the advertising. That’s what the courts call a legal contract. You cannot unilaterally change a contract after it has been accepted (that is, not after someone bought the car), and that’s why the court — quite properly — ruled against Tesla in this case.

This is why I say Tesla should have written Terms of Service for Supercharger use, and Tesla should have included that as part of a purchase agreement for buying a Tesla car. But they foolishly didn’t, and now that oversight has come back to bite them.

Or Tesla can just use the same trapdoor that AT&T used to get out of the “unlimited data” plans offered with the original iPhones: your contract says “unlimited,” but it doesn’t guarantee a rate of delivery.

Tesla can just throttle “unlimited” SC plans down to 20kW and make people move over to the current plan for maximum-rate SC power delivery.

This plan is kind of gambling however that the people won’t just continue to charge at that rate and then this leads to even worse congestion.

Well, for the specific case of taxis, Tesla would really just need to make the cost/benefit of time spent charging vs. time spent driving not worthwhile.

They don’t want to do a terms of service because they don’t want to treat the supercharger offering as a perpetual service contract (like you have with phones). That gives them more flexibility legally (they can settle cases before they go to court). This case may apply in the EU, but not in the USA for example.

OMG I hope this cancer (compelled unlimited free charging by commercial user) doesn’t spread to US. Free charging SUCKS!!!!!

Certainly does if you want to actually have an infrastructure in the long(ish) term. Electricity isn’t free, neither is land, labor and equipment. Or do you just give away your efforts and assets?

Lost in translation? Clearly when a Delaware corporation based in California, under 10 years extant, does not mean “free and unlimited,” in English, when they state, in their language, “free and unlimited.” It seems that the court would rather shift burdens westward rather than encourage the best resolutions of disputes. Encouraging the parties to establish a reasonable prospective rate and policy would ease future burden on the court, and if a new charging policy was introduced for those in this situation, it would reduce future conflicts. This result seems to me to be good for the particular taxi operator and bad for almost everyone else.

No, it is good for everyone. It sends a signal to corporations that they cannot promise stuff and not deliver. There can’t be any take backs.

If a car is sold that had unlimited Supercharging is it transferred to the new owner.


Tesla even disabled SC on Salvage title cars. So far it’s hasn’t gone to court to be settled.

When playing with any “Salvaged title cars”, especially EVs, best practices (“disabled SC”) from the manufacturer, should always implement Safety First!

Do Not Read Between The Lines

Depends on when it was sold.
I believe they changed the unlimited to the first owner.

Won’t the protection algorithm cut in and just slow down his supercharging?

Probably, but so what. If there is only one driver, he needs a break.
After driving for 12 hours or so, I’ve had enough.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

Tesla is probably concerned about the taxi being able to occupy the charging spot. Occupancy forces them to open more.

Free is the root of all evil in the world of EV charging!

How could Tesla be so incompetent, what better way to promote your car and it wouldn’t cost you spit….Scotty, beam me up, no intelligent life at Tesla!

There is one taxi company that has private SC at the airport. But several “single car” cab operators also do their business. The case is clear. Car was bought before SC policy for commercial use was updated and used facility for years. Like Tesloop, thus grandfathered in. The car can’t be blocked from SC access when there is a SC open. We don’t know if the driver blocked the stall for always up to 100% charge while waiting for a fare, but aside from the idle fees when finished charging, there is no way to prevent that. I have no idea why Tesla went to court over this one, waste of money. I would have kindly asked the driver if he could consider frequenting also other SCs to reduce congestion at that one, and incentivised it with e.g. a Tesla merchandise item signed by Elon Musk (in exchange for the taxi driver signing an agreement that he will only charge at night at this particular charger). If Tesla would have fenced in the SC and opened it for no-one in the time frame => no case, as no SC But as it is, he can operate his Tesla for 20… Read more »