Motorists who drive a Tesla Model S or a Model X enjoy free, unlimited access to the company’s ever-growing network of supercharger stations. However, Tesla has recently revealed that consumers who opt for the smaller, more affordable Model 3 will need to pay extra in order to supercharge their car’s battery pack.
The news has understandably upset more than a few of the nearly 400,000 people who recently put down a $1,000 deposit on a Model 3. However, Tesla boss Elon Musk defended his decision by explaining that giving Model 3 owners free access to supercharger stations wouldn’t make sense from a financial standpoint. Speaking during a recent shareholder meeting, he added that Tesla needs to charge extra for tech features like supercharging because engineers “can’t figure out how to make it less expensive.”
Model S and Model X owners can top up for free because the cars start at $76,500 and $83,000, respectively, and the average transaction price lies north of $100,000. In comparison, the long-anticipated Model 3 carries a base price of $35,000 before options and incentives are factored in. Musk predicted that supercharging will be offered either as a standalone option or will be bundled together with other features — such as Ludicrous acceleration or Auto Pilot — as part of an option package. Regardless, it’s too early to tell how much the feature will cost because the first deliveries won’t happen until the end of 2017
Not having free access to a supercharging station shouldn’t be a big deal for most drivers, according to Tesla. The company points out that using the network of stations only makes sense for motorists who routinely drive long distances, and that those who rely on the stations in their home town are wasting their time.
“Driving to a supercharger in order to get five dollars’ worth of electricity, and spending half an hour of your time, you’re maybe barely at minimum wage,” said Musk.