One day Tesla wants to make vehicles drive away from the sites automatically, so that everyone gets a fair shot.
Tesla has gradually overhauled the policies for users of its Supercharging network over the course of 2016, and the EV maker has announced another big change in the waning days of the year. People at the recharging sites will now incur a $0.40 fee in the United States (50 cents CAD in Canada, 0.35 euros for much of Europe, or 0.30 pounds in the United Kingdom) for every minute of sitting idle after a complete charge. The company will waive the bill for drivers who will leave the spot within five minutes. The new guideline will mitigate people needing to wait for a charger with a vehicle already present hogging the spot, according to Tesla.
The automaker argues that people don't leave their car for extended periods while refueling at a traditional gas station, and the same should be true at Supercharger sites. Tesla’s mobile app allows owners to monitor their Model S or Model X’s state of charge, and they receive an alert when the process is complete. “To be clear, this change is purely about increasing customer happiness and we hope to never make any money from it,” the firm’s statement said. Elon Musk also clarified on Twitter that the fee only applied “if most bays are occupied. If the site is basically deserted, no problem to park.”
According to the company, this will possibly be a temporary measure until the technology will be ready to align with the automaker’s dreams. “We envision a future where cars move themselves once fully charged, enhancing network efficiency and the customer experience even further,” Tesla wrote in its announcement.
The automaker announced in November that Supercharger use would no longer be unlimited for new Model S and Model X owners. Customers ordering a vehicle after January 1, 2017, will receive 400 kilowatt hours of free charging and will play a still undisclosed “small fee” for additional energy. The company promised continued free access to the network for current owners.
The firm provided a hint about this changing policy during a shareholder meeting during the summer. The company announced that buyers of the forthcoming Model 3 would either have to pay for using the Supercharger network or buy an unlimited-use package. Musk explained this decision as "it is because we can’t figure out how to make it less expensive.”
At the end of the third quarter of 2016, Tesla had a total of 715 Supercharger sites globally that offered a total of 4,461 chargers. Ninety-seven percent of the population in the continental U.S. and 86 percent of Western Europe are within 150 miles (241 kilometers) of one of them.