Tesla ends unlimited free charging at Supercharge stations

Electric car maker Tesla Motors will stop offering unlimited free use of its 734 fast charging stations worldwide, only months ahead of its scheduled opening for sale of a mass-market electric car.

Tesla said cars ordered after 1 January 2017, would get around roughly 1,000 miles worth of credits each year for use at the Supercharger stations. But once the credits are used, owners would have to pay fees that Tesla did not disclose on Monday. Vehicles ordered or sold on or before 1 January would still get unlimited free charging.

The move means buyers of Tesla's mass-market $35,000 Model 3, which is scheduled to go on sale in the second half of next year, would not get unlimited free charging. Tesla had registered over 300,000 reservations for the cars, and free use of the superchargers would cost Tesla dear.

Tesla however, said charging would cost less than the price of filling a comparable gasoline car. The company added it would release fee details later this year and that prices could fluctuate over time and vary by regional electricity costs.

According to Tasha Keeney, analyst for the industrial innovation fund at ARK Invest, the move is unlikely to hurt Tesla sales, as the company remains the  market leader for electric vehicles, and owners did not use the stations that often.

Meanwhile, Tesla said in a blog titled, "An Update to our Supercharging Program"

It said, "Four years ago, Tesla introduced the Supercharger Network – the world's fastest charging solution – to enable convenient long distance travel. Today, more than 4,600 Superchargers allow over 160,000 Tesla owners to drive across the continental US, from the Arctic Circle to the south of Spain, and across all of the population centers in China and Japan, among many other places. Supercharging has even helped owners drive their Teslas around the world.

"We've designed our network so that all customers have access to a seamless and convenient charging experience when they're away from home, as our intention has always been for Supercharging to enable long distance travel.

"That's why today we're announcing a change to the economics of Supercharging – one that allows us to reinvest in the network, accelerate its growth and bring all owners, current and future, the best Supercharging experience."