For the last 5 years, Tesla has been building up the Supercharger network, which most EV owners would agree is the best and most extensive fast-charging network in the world, and it has been making it available for free for the vast majority of its drivers.
After several false alarms over the past 2 years, Tesla is now finally ending the free unlimited Supercharging era today.
It has already been the case for non-Performance Model 3 owners since last year, but it will now extend to all new Tesla buyers after today.
New Model S, Model X, and Model 3 Performance buyers still have a chance to get free unlimited Supercharging for the lifetime of their ownership by ordering before the end of the day with a referral code.
After that, the referral program will give $100 of Supercharging credit to new buyers, which is a major drop in value from the unlimited free Supercharging for the lifetime ownership of the car.
Tesla has been talking about ending the valuable referral incentive for years now, but it looks like this time is the one.
CEO Elon Musk even tweeted the deadline last night:
Tesla owners can grant free Supercharging for life to a friend who buys S/3/X. Ends tomorrow night. https://t.co/7ZDXeIQVc7"
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 15, 2018
The end of the incentive appears to be used as a demand lever for Tesla, which is trying to line up orders to finish the year strong and turn a profit.
Tesla will also now be able to take aside less revenue per car to cover the cost of free Supercharging.
Furthermore, it will result in more vehicles under the company’s paid Supercharging program, which Tesla insists will not be used as a profit center but to finance the expansion of the Supercharger network.
In March, Tesla increased the cost of using its Supercharger stations for vehicles who are not under the free unlimited Supercharging plan.
This is the end of an era for Tesla. Free Supercharging has not only been a valuable sell point for the automaker, but it also helped to serve as an example of how seamless fast-charging can be.
Tesla aims to keep that seamless experience with the paid model by not adding any step at the charging station and taking all payment online after the fact.
Nonetheless, it changes the value proposition of Tesla’s vehicles. Going from free unlimited Supercharging for the ownership of the car to just $100 is a massive difference. For a brief moment years ago, Tesla was actually selling Supercharger access for $2,000.
But from a business standpoint, it makes a lot of sense for Tesla to finally make the move.
The automaker had to put aside revenue from each sale to take into account the value of “free” Supercharging, which of course was never really free but included in the price of the vehicles – even though it was linked to the referral program for a while now.
We recently reported that the network has now delivered over 400 GWh of energy and it is rapidly accelerating as new stations come online and Model 3 deliveries are expanding.
If all that electricity would have been sold by Tesla, it would have represented between $50 to $100 million depending on the mix of where it is sold.
As the network keeps growing and more cars are added to the fleet, it will become a significant source of revenue that will enable Tesla to expand charging infrastructure even faster.
Ultimately, this will be good for EV adoption.
If you’re looking to order a Model S, X, or Model 3 Performance, you can use our referral code to receive unlimited supercharging on any vehicle order placed by the end of the day, or a $100 supercharging credit on any order placed after that. The same code can be used for a 5-year extended warranty on a Tesla solar energy system.