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Monetizing the SC network

Once the M3 is on the road in numbers and with the increasing concerns about SC abuse, wouldn't it make sense to charge for its use for new vehicles? If TM charged half as much as the comparable cost per mile as an ICE, it would help cover the SC expense, discourage abuse, and still seem like a good deal. In fact, if it were an option now, I would probably choose this approach as opposed to the $2000 surcharge for unlimited use.
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Ex got M3 in the divorce, waiting for EU Model Y!
Feb 9, 2012
Drammen, Norway
No. No. No.

The pre paid unlimited use option is the genius of the whole thing.

It is such an awesome driver of demand and sales and one way to think of it is that the "pre paid" bit makes the network build out finance it self.

I've given this a lot of thought and I hope Tesla never change their model.


Well-Known Member
Oct 9, 2013
In my opinion, charging for the Superchargers would be a foolish move for Tesla. In addition to creating confusion (is the used car you're buying one of the ones that's grandfathered in? is it a car that pays?) it dillutes the message and advantages.

I think Tesla can sell more cars with a higher MSRP but including free Supercharging than they could at a lower price without the Supercharging - the lure of free roadtrips will draw people in, and get them thinking about the network.

Keep in mind, by the point you're talking about, with the network mostly deployed and cars starting to drop off of the network through attrition, the actual incremental cost of supporting another car on the network should be decreasing significantly.
like i said before, I don't think the superchargers cost all that much for Tesla. For the extra money you pay to enable supercharging (or you had to pay) you could have bought 80000km of electricity in europe. And Tesla will get much cheaper bulk rates for their superchargers and probably do some tax shinigans for loosing money by paying for electricity for their customers. I wouldn't be surprised if they even make money from supercharging being included in the price...


(S85-3/2/13 traded in) X LR: F2611##-3/27/20
Supporting Member
Mar 8, 2012
The cost of setting up and maintaining a billing system, and the PR disaster it would create, far outweigh any potential gains. The best thing Tesla can do is to keep expanding the network (and the individual sites where congestion happens).


not great not terrible
Apr 23, 2015
New York, NY
“A company like GM is a finance-driven company who always has to live up to financial expectations. Here we look at it the other way around—the product is successful when it’s great, and the company becomes great because of that. The moment the person leading a company thinks numbers have value in themselves, the company’s done. The moment the CFO becomes CEO—it’s done. Game over.”

- Elon Musk

Won't happen, thankfully.


2013 P85
Feb 12, 2013
There are potentially other ways to monetize the Supercharger network besides charging Tesla owners for charging. Discussed on TMC in detail years ago, 2013ish. Might be worth a search, I can't find it right now.

Early in the Supercharger Network's life (when there were 6 or so total chargers, all in CA) Tesla indicated that they have a very predictable usage pattern. Peak use Friday afternoon, when people leave for weekend trips, and Sunday when they return. Most of the rest of the time, they sit idle/near idle. Tesla is also going to be installing batteries at Supercharger sites, to help deal with peak usage demand charges from the utilities. But, if the sites sit mostly idle, then the batteries aren't needed for demand peak shaving related to charging, and can provide other services to the utilities. If Tesla puts stationary storage at Supercharger sites, and usage patterns remain similar, they will have lots of grid-connected storage that is sitting idle at peak grid usage times. So they could sell services to utilities to pay for free charging. Tesla energy has been kicking around for a long time, and seems built into the company's ecosystem.
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Active Member
Supporting Member
Jun 22, 2013
Northern California
Seeing as Supercharging is not even an option anymore (even the CPOs come with it, IIRC), I am not sure Tesla will move away from that, nor should they. If Tesla is going to build mass market appeal, then "free fuel for life" is the kind of easy to understand message that will appeal to buyers who are not necessarily in the market for an EV.


Ex got M3 in the divorce, waiting for EU Model Y!
Feb 9, 2012
Drammen, Norway
I think that if not for Model III that Tesla will do something for future generations where you get free charging, up to x times per month or year.
Maybe 10 times per month and up to 50 times per year.
Covers most road trip usage and limits their costs.

If there's a future problem with extremely price aware buyers who'd rather use up their time at a SC then charge overnight (big cities are the exception) then you could implement a Fair Usage Policy (like phone companies do with "unlimited data")


Active Member
May 17, 2014
Central Valley
As has been said many times before, the Supercharger network is a marketing expense. I have Supercharged more than 125 times from California to Wisconsin at about 50 locations, and I guess that I have been asked, "How much does it cost to use the Supercharger?" at least 20 times. Those asking are somewhat astonished when I say, "Free, but it is built into the price of the car, and our usage is unlimited."

I believe that it will be many years before Tesla resorts to broadcast or print advertising--maybe when competition starts getting serious. Until then Supercharging will remain free--for life--and once the initial build out is complete in a couple years, that they will go back and start expanding selected locations while adding battery storage and even PV panels at those spots where it is sensible.

That said, once the Model 3 is being produced in large quantities, they might have a teaser period (90 days) of free, unlimited Supercharging for no additional cost and then make it available for an annual fee purchased online and delivered via a software update for those who do not purchase it up front with their car.

Supercharging will always be free for the S and X.

I am curious as to how the supercharger expenses incurred by Tesla per unit compares to the advertising costs of the ICE manufacturers per unit.
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I think that as long as Superchargers are located so as to be convenient for distance travel, but not so much for local use, usage will be somewhat self-limiting, and the costs associated with keeping them running and powered can be built into the purchase price. It's a selling feature that in reality doesn't get as much use as the potential purchaser envisions. So in a sense, it is a marketing expense and given the complete lack of a marketing campaign, nationwide TV commercials during the Superbowl etc., the dollars that would typically be spent by other manufacturers can instead be spent on important things like R&D and the Supercharger network.

Worst case, a modest annual subscription like *might* come about for 3G one day, might be a consideration. Enough to ease the costs to Tesla, but still not 'full price'.
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Model S Owner and Frustrated Tesla Fan
Apr 25, 2011
Ithaca, NY, USA
The electricity cost simply won't be an issue for Tesla; not only is it a marketing expense, but if they put up solar panels, it can be very cheap.

The *congestion problem* is what's going to force them to ration Supercharger usage. Probably for future car buyers it would make sense to say "You can only charge at each supercharger twice per day" or something, and then only enforce it against taxi companies.
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That said, once the Model 3 is being produced in large quantities, they might have a teaser period (90 days) of free, unlimited Supercharging for no additional cost and then make it available for an annual fee purchased online and delivered via a software update for those who do not purchase it up front with their car.

If it does become an issue, this is a fine way to resolve the problem. A subscription model that can be one week, one month, one quarter or one year. Allows someone to purchase what is needed without the burden of cost when it's not needed. And it's a simple online purchase rather than a pay per use at the charger.

Thinking about this, if the SC knows the VIN and can communicate back to Tesla then there's no need to push an update to the car. It's simply flipping a flag on the owner's account. Simple and clean.
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