Buyers will have to purchase a package or pay per charge.
Tesla won't offer one of its biggest ownership incentives to buyers of the Model 3 electric sedan. While owners of any Model S and Model X can charge at one of Tesla’s Supercharger stations for free, Model 3 buyers will have to pay.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the fee structure yesterday at the company’s 2016 shareholder meeting, saying that the company can’t justify subsidizing charging for the greater number of Model 3 buyers expected.
“Superchargers are setup, at least today, for people who bought the car, as free long distance for life. Obviously that has, fundamentally, a cost,” Musk said. “The obvious thing to do is to decouple that from the cost of the Model 3. So it will still be very cheap and far cheaper than gasoline to drive long distance with the Model 3, but it will not be free long distance for free unless you purchase that package.”
Tesla hasn’t yet said how much it will cost buyers to charge at the stations or to buy the unlimited-charging package when they purchase their car. The incentive to have Model 3 owners pay for their own Supercharger electricity is likely twofold: First, with the car starting at just $35,000, Tesla won’t earn as much from each sale to offset the cost of the free charging. And with Model 3 sales expected to be many times greater than those of the Model S and X, that would mean far more customers charging up for free.
“What Tesla’s motivation is, is to make electric transport as affordable as possible,” Musk said. “It [charging for Superchargers] is not because we want to make things more expensive, it is because we can’t figure out how to make it less expensive.”
Tesla currently has 632 Supercharger stations with a total of 3,780 chargers worldwide. Though exact figures vary depending on battery condition, the company says a Supercharger can give a Tesla 170 extra miles of driving range in a 30-minute charge.