One of the biggest advantages of owning a Tesla is the ability to utilize the brand’s Supercharger network, which can grant a Model S 170 miles of driving range with just 30 minutes of charge. While Tesla states “Supercharging is free for the life of Model S” on its FAQ page, it appears that comes with a caveat.
The stations are still free to use, mind you, but a recent letter circulated to an undisclosed number of Model S owners urges them to back off Supercharger use for local trips, leaning on the network for long-distance travel only.
“As a frequent user of local Superchargers, we ask that you decrease your local Supercharging and promptly move your Model S once charging is complete,” the letter states. “Doing so ensures a better experience for the whole Tesla ownership community and allows Supercharger resources to be available for those who need them most.”
The letter also emphasizes the benefits and convenience of charging at home, adding that the free network should be used to “expand and enhance your long distance travel while providing the flexibility for occasional needed use during local trips.”
But there’s a problem. According to the Tesla Motors Club forum, the dispatch was widely circulated and the recipients included those who either don’t have a Supercharger near them or rarely use the network anyway. Supercharging access is not exactly free — the necessary components are part of a $2,000 charge included in the MSRP of newer models — so many buyers were left feeling surprised, perhaps even miffed.
“First of all, I have no local Supercharger,” said Tesla Motors Club member napabill. “I have used Superchargers frequently on extended road trips, as they were intended. And I have never allowed my [Model S] to occupy a charging space beyond the time needed to get a charge to get to my next stop. A very poorly worded letter, IMHO.”
It’s a fine line to tread then, because Supercharging is indeed a paid service, yet asking buyers to use them responsibly appears to be a valid request. Still, sending the message to those to whom it does not apply seems like a great way to generate bad PR.
Using home charging, Tesla states it costs less than $2 to charge a Model S for a 40-mile daily trip, based on the national average of $0.12 per kWh.