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"1000 miles" of free supercharging is 400 kWh of energy

kishkaru

Member
Feb 3, 2020
239
254
The Bay, CA
If someone uses your referral link when ordering a new Tesla vehicle, you get "1000 miles" of free supercharging when the vehicle is delivered to them, which is valid for 6 months from when you receive it. To me, this never made sense because superchargers are billed by unit of energy (in kWh), at least in CA. So getting "1000 miles" didn't really mean much to me. How do these "miles" magically convert into kWh when they are used?

To answer this question, I ran an experiment. For my most recent "1000 mile" referral I received this past June, I recorded each supercharging session and the "miles" it consumed. I did not have any referral credit prior, and did not have any credit after. (e.g. using pay-per supercharging before and after the referral).

The data points:
1. (6/26) Supercharger A - 62.0 kWh: 158 miles used = 2.55 mi/kWh
2. (7/5) Supercharger B - 54.5 kWh: 140 miles used = 2.57 mi /kWh
3. (7/9) Supercharger C - 53.2 kWh : 138 miles used = 2.59 mi /kWh
4. (7/17) Supercharger C - 55.3 kWh : 143 miles used = 2.59 mi /kWh
5. (8/5) Supercharger C - 24.2 kWh : 65 miles used = 2.69 mi / kWh
6. (8/8) Supercharger C - ?? (46.41) kWh : 113 miles used = ?? mi / kWh
7. (9/4) Supercharger D - 55.8 kWh : 153 miles used = 2.74 mi / kWh
8. (9/11) Supercharger E - 37.18 kWh : 93 miles used = 2.51 mi / kWh

Retrieving "miles" consumed is easy: Tesla provides this info on their website under the "Charging' tab once logged in to your Tesla account. I retrieved the "miles" consumed for each of the 8 charging sessions above via my Tesla account.
Calculating the total miles consumed is also easy, simply add them all up: 158 + 140 + 138 + 143 + 65 +113 + 153 + 93 = "1003 miles" consumed. This is right on target with what Tesla promised for the referral.

For that 8th charging session, I actually ran out of "miles" referral credit part way during the charging session, so I was charged (per kWh) for the remaining balance. In this specific case, Tesla's invoice showed both the total kWh delivered by the supercharger, plus the portion of kWh charged to my credit card. So it made it very easy to back calculate how many kWh was consumed for the "93 miles" of referral credits used in that session.

But for all the other supercharging sessions (#1-7), Tesla does not generate an Invoice, nor show consumed energy (kWh) on their website. It simply says "Credits used XXX miles" per session. So how did I retrieve them?

Teslamate!

Teslamate uses Tesla's API to directly retrieve data about the vehicle, including charging data. Unfortunately, I do believe that that charging session data Teslamate retrieves and displays is energy (in kWh) delivered to the vehicle, rather than dispensed by the supercharger. I don't think Tesla makes available in a public API the energy dispensed by the supercharger. The only place that shows that is in the Invoice after a charging session, but already clarified that it's not generated for a free session. Nonetheless, it's a fair good representation of the energy consumed.

One caveat: you can see in the table above that energy consumed is missing for charging session # 6. Unfortunately, Teslamate only retrieved the data for the charging session partway, so I did not include the partial data in the table. However, we can calculate an average mi / kWh rate for the rest of the 7 sessions (2.60 mi /kWh), and back calculate the energy consumed for that session. The result is 46.41 kWh.

Adding all the energy consumed together, we get: 62.0 + 54.5 + 53.2 + 55.3 + 24.2 + 46.41 + 55.8 + 37.18 = 388.59 kWh consumed.
This is close to the 400 kWh others have touted. We also have to keep in mind that charging session #6 was estimated, and also these values are energy delivered to the vehicle. So 3% less than expected is within error.

To summarize:
- 8 charging sessions
- "1003 miles" consumed
- 388.59 kWh consumed (by the vehicle)
- 2.60 mi / kWh average conversion rate

So the next time you receive "1000 miles" of free supercharging credit, consider it 400 kWh! I don't know why Tesla obfuscate this, but perhaps there's a legal reason why they can't just say "400 kWh" of free energy credit. (e.g. tax implications?)

Note: this experiment was run on a Model Y, so it's possible that the mi / kWh conversion rate may not translate to other Tesla vehicles (and thus I posted it in MY forum).
 
Last edited:

MY1stEV

Member
Jul 29, 2021
112
147
Atlanta suburbs
I think I read somewhere that Tesla values the 1,000 miles of free supercharging at something like $125. They have to track it as a liability on their books until it is either consumed or expires.

There was an Electrek story in May that said Tesla's referral program gave away $23 million is free supercharging in just 1Q2021. That is why the referral program is being revamped.
 
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Fourdoor

Member
May 31, 2016
998
855
United States
Yeah, they "gave away" $23 million on the books, but the vast majority of those referrals are generated by YouTube content creators that couldn't use that many miles in a lifetime, so, half of that 23 million went to new owners and most of the other half of that 23 million expired without ever being used. Heck, I would guess that the majority of NEW owners don't take a huge road trip within the first 6 months, so even the majority of the new owner referral miles expire before being used.

Keith
 
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kishkaru

Member
Feb 3, 2020
239
254
The Bay, CA
I think I read somewhere that Tesla values the 1,000 miles of free supercharging at something like $125. They have to track it as a liability on their books until it is either consumed or expires.

There was an Electrek story in May that said Tesla's referral program gave away $23 million is free supercharging in just 1Q2021. That is why the referral program is being revamped.

The value for 400 kWh of supercharging energy (at least in CA), is $84 ($0.21/kWh off peak) to $168 ($0.42/kWh on-peak).
So yeah, $126 on average, if you pick 50% split of users charging off-peak vs on-peak.

But since it's free energy, I can speculate that most users charge on-peak for convenience, since they don't need wake up early (or stay up late) to charge for free, plus compete for stalls with those paying to charge at the lower rates before 10am and after 7pm. Most of my free credit was used off-peak (I work late), but I can imagine charging during the lunch hour (on-peak) is a popular option for many for convenience.
 

srlawren

Active Member
Aug 3, 2020
1,098
739
Vancouver, BC, Canada, Eh?
I don't know why Tesla obfuscate this, but perhaps there's a legal reason why they can't just say "400 kWh" of free energy credit. (e.g. tax implications?)

@kishkaru my best guess is that this is a lowest-common-denominator simplification. Depending on where you're pumping electrons into your proverbial tank, Tesla may need to bill you by time spent charging or by the kWh delivered. Rather than having to advertise it as 400kWh in some regions and some measure of time in others, they convert both into a nice easily understood number of miles that is applicable anywhere. [Excepting of course up here in Canada where we get a roughly-equivalent 1,500km credit.] Also, "1,000" sounds like more than "400", which is always appealing when you're on the receiving end. [aka psychology at work]


Oh wow I didn't realize they expired. That's pretty lame.

@LoudMusic yes, though, in fairness, they don't really need to give anyone anything and they'd still keep on selling them as fast as they can build them for the foreseeable future. But yes they definitely expire--same situation for us, picked up May 1st and whatever is left will expire Nov 1st.
 

srlawren

Active Member
Aug 3, 2020
1,098
739
Vancouver, BC, Canada, Eh?
For something worth about $100, I never understood why people went so gaga over this 🤷‍♂️

@JimmySure the monetary value isn't huge. I think it's more about the ability (especially for those of us new to EVs) to try out Supercharging to see how it works for us and can fit into our lifestyle. We are just about at our expiry (Nov 1st) but managed to use up a bit more than we had thought we might, after a couple of long weekend trips and a couple of day trips, as well as trying out a local shopping center location for fun (and probably one more tonight actually to make sure we're juiced up for some appointments tomorrow--we currently only use L1 charging at home which meets our daily needs the majority of the time).

It's just nice to try it out without "worrying" (for lack of a better term) what it's costing to do so. To be honest, I think they would be wise to just include this with every new purchase (or maybe even half as much: 500mi/750km?). People might try it out when they might not otherwise just because it's "free" ("included with purchase") rather than trying to stick to free/inexpensive destination chargers etc., and get hooked on the convenience.

That said, Tesla is very smart: surely they must have looked at the analytics of people that used a referral code and got the freebie vs. those that didn't and how that converted into longer-term SC usage, so maybe I'm off base that it would make a statistically significant difference either way.
 

andaconda

Member
Apr 3, 2021
223
126
S.W. Montana
I have seen some of the 'youtuber's' with over 100,000 miles of free charging. But there again they work for their referrals.
Yes, it would be nice if Tesla did include 500 or so miles free, a novelty of sorts to get you acclimated to the idea of using the Super Charger network.
 
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45thParallel

Member
Sep 5, 2021
152
88
Minnesota
Here in my neck of the woods EV off-peak charging is 6 cents per KWH and 12 Cents at peak (If I do not sign up for the EV plan). So 400 KWH at peak rate is $48.00. Not a lot, but I still appreciate it because it will encourage me try out Tesla supercharging and use my car more in the first 6 months. I consider it similar to the Costco food tasting! If I ran the company, I would jack up the price by $85 and give everyone "free" 1000 SC miles as welcome to Tesla family "gift".
 

srlawren

Active Member
Aug 3, 2020
1,098
739
Vancouver, BC, Canada, Eh?
Here in my neck of the woods EV off-peak charging is 6 cents per KWH and 12 Cents at peak (If I do not sign up for the EV plan). So 400 KWH at peak rate is $48.00. Not a lot, but I still appreciate it because it will encourage me try out Tesla supercharging and use my car more in the first 6 months. I consider it similar to the Costco food tasting! If I ran the company, I would jack up the price by $85 and give everyone "free" 1000 SC miles as welcome to Tesla family "gift".

@45thParallel if you were to pay for the equivalent 400 KWH at a Supercharger, you would almost certainly be charged at a higher rate than 6-12c per KWH.
 

45thParallel

Member
Sep 5, 2021
152
88
Minnesota
@45thParallel if you were to pay for the equivalent 400 KWH at a Supercharger, you would almost certainly be charged at a higher rate than 6-12c per KWH.
Yes, it could easily be double my home peal rate. Some pointed out it is worth $100. New ICE vehicles come with a tank full of gas anyway. So the free supercharging miles is not a big deal for a Model Y costing $70k out the door, to get free “fuel” worth $100.
 

bo3bdar

Member
Feb 21, 2021
170
224
Silicon Valley
Here in my neck of the woods EV off-peak charging is 6 cents per KWH and 12 Cents at peak (If I do not sign up for the EV plan). So 400 KWH at peak rate is $48.00. Not a lot, but I still appreciate it because it will encourage me try out Tesla supercharging and use my car more in the first 6 months. I consider it similar to the Costco food tasting! If I ran the company, I would jack up the price by $85 and give everyone "free" 1000 SC miles as welcome to Tesla family "gift".

Per minute charges out here are 41 cents at peak, 21 cents off. I've seen these rates on distant chargers as well, so road tripping is most likely similar.

At that peak rate, that's $165. Also for some reason that is not clear to me, I'm getting undercharged for miles, so I'm actually getting more than rated value by about 40%. So for me, it's worth around $200, and interesting enough to actually use. Gotta get in a trip before Dec expiry!


I do think that them skipping the referral program makes sense when they can't even build enough cars right now. And adding a nice perk of free 250 or 500 miles of non-expiring SuperCharging to new buyers would be the way to go. Get people aware of the network, alleviate range concerns.
 
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JimmySure

Member
Jul 13, 2021
88
80
Seattle
I see a few of you mention that some free miles would increase awareness of Supercharging. Really? Did anyone here buy their Tesla and NOT know about Supercharging and what it is? I mean, even if you didn't which would be shocking considering they are a necessary component of buying EVs for most, they are a constant presence on the nav screen.
 

Fourdoor

Member
May 31, 2016
998
855
United States
@JimmySure the monetary value isn't huge. I think it's more about the ability (especially for those of us new to EVs) to try out Supercharging to see how it works for us and can fit into our lifestyle. We are just about at our expiry (Nov 1st) but managed to use up a bit more than we had thought we might, after a couple of long weekend trips and a couple of day trips, as well as trying out a local shopping center location for fun (and probably one more tonight actually to make sure we're juiced up for some appointments tomorrow--we currently only use L1 charging at home which meets our daily needs the majority of the time).

It's just nice to try it out without "worrying" (for lack of a better term) what it's costing to do so. To be honest, I think they would be wise to just include this with every new purchase (or maybe even half as much: 500mi/750km?). People might try it out when they might not otherwise just because it's "free" ("included with purchase") rather than trying to stick to free/inexpensive destination chargers etc., and get hooked on the convenience.

That said, Tesla is very smart: surely they must have looked at the analytics of people that used a referral code and got the freebie vs. those that didn't and how that converted into longer-term SC usage, so maybe I'm off base that it would make a statistically significant difference either way.

The referral system rapidly devolved into YouTube content creators accruing more miles than they could possibly ever use (if they didn't disappear after 6 months) with "informed" new owners getting their free 1000 miles by picking a random YouTuber's referral code to use. It would be simpler and more effective to include the full $100 worth of free supercharging with each new purchase without having to use the referral system, but make it only good for the first month vs the 6 months you get with a referral, and possibly include one month of free FSD to try and entice people to buy into the FSD system. There has to be overhead cost in tracking the referral system that they could save by doing away with the referral system all together.

To the point that $100 worth of free supercharging is not something to be impressed with, I agree.... but 1000 miles sounds impressive before you realize how inexpensive it is :)

Keith
 

USCGDAV

Member
Aug 9, 2021
66
34
florida
@kishkaru my best guess is that this is a lowest-common-denominator simplification. Depending on where you're pumping electrons into your proverbial tank, Tesla may need to bill you by time spent charging or by the kWh delivered. Rather than having to advertise it as 400kWh in some regions and some measure of time in others, they convert both into a nice easily understood number of miles that is applicable anywhere. [Excepting of course up here in Canada where we get a roughly-equivalent 1,500km credit.] Also, "1,000" sounds like more than "400", which is always appealing when you're on the receiving end. [aka psychology at work]




@LoudMusic yes, though, in fairness, they don't really need to give anyone anything and they'd still keep on selling them as fast as they can build them for the foreseeable future. But yes they definitely expire--same situation for us, picked up May 1st and whatever is left will expire Nov 1st.
yes everything has an expiration date.
 

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