Tesla officially introduced its paid Supercharger network access plan over a year ago, but it’s only now starting to have a greater impact since virtually only Model 3 owners are on it and the vehicle is just now starting to hit the roads in greater numbers.
And with that, the automaker is now increasing the cost of the paid Supercharger access, but a spokesperson still insists that it ‘will never be a profit center’ for the company.
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Just as a reminder, the default Supercharger access model when buying a new Tesla Model S or Model X is already the new pay-per-use model unless the buyer is being referred by an existing Tesla owner, in which case, it reverts to the old unlimited free access model.
Model 3 buyers don’t have access to a referral incentive and therefore, they directly fall under to the new pay-per-use model, which consists of paying per kWh charged from a Supercharger station or per minute of using a station in the states and provinces where Tesla can’t officially “sell” electricity due to local restrictions.
When introducing the program, Tesla said that it aimed to still make the cost of Supercharging cheaper than gasoline and that it doesn’t aim to make its Supercharger network a profit center.
Instead, they want to use the money to keep growing the network which now consists of over 1,180 stations and close to 9,000 Superchargers.
But this week, the rates were updated across the US. Some states saw massive increases of as much as 100 percent – though most regions saw their rates increase by 20 to 40 percent.
For example, Oregon saw an increase of $0.12 to $0.24 per kWh, while California, Tesla’s biggest market in the US, got an increase from $0.20 to $0.26 kWh and New York’s rate went from $0.19 to $0.24 per kWh.
We asked for Tesla to comment on the increase and a spokesperson sent us the following statement:
“We occasionally adjust rates to reflect current local electricity and usage. The overriding principle is that Supercharging will always remain significantly cheaper than gasoline, as we only aim to recover a portion of our costs while setting up a fair system for everyone. This will never be a profit center for Tesla.”
The new rate can be seen on Tesla’s website here.
Those are some surprisingly steep increases, but the good news is that it still for the most part significantly less expensive than gasoline.
We also need to keep in mind that Superchargers are not the main way to charge for the vast majority of Tesla owners at the moment. Home charging is the main way for most people to charge and the cost of that is solely dependent on your local electricity rates.
Tesla’s Superchargers are generally used for long distance travel.
In general, I don’t have an issue with Tesla increasing the rates here, but it does raise some questions about Tesla’s promised $0.07 per kWh for Tesla Semi customers at the upcoming Megachargers.
That’s a hard price to achieve in the first place, but if Tesla plans to achieve that with the Megachargers, I don’t see any reason why they couldn’t achieve a similar rate for the Superchargers too – at least for the new bigger stations.
But right now, the Superchargers rely on local power and therefore, their operating costs are mostly linked to local electricity rates. Though in some cases, Tesla is also sharing those costs with local businesses that get traffic from having that stations in their parking lots.
Tesla didn’t make it clear how they plan to achieve the lower rates for the Megachargers, but it presumably requires large-scale solar arrays and Powerpacks.
That’s apparently also coming to the Supercharger network since Elon Musk previously said that Tesla plans to disconnect ‘almost all’ Superchargers from the grid and go solar+batteries.
It certainly looks like the network is evolving toward that goal as the company increases the rates to pay for the network’s evolution.
What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.