One of the longstanding benefits of purchasing and owning a Tesla is that the company was more than happy to offer drivers free access to its increasingly expansive Supercharger network. Without question, Tesla’s Supercharger network was a stroke of genius as it helped alleviate understandable concerns from drivers about running out of juice on long trips. These days, with thousands of Supercharger stations all across the globe, Tesla has effectively eliminated ‘range anxiety’ for most everyone.

Tesla’s Supercharger network worked impressively well back when Tesla was nothing more than a niche brand. But as the number of Tesla’s on the road began to increase dramatically, long lines and waits at Supercharger stations started to become more commonplace. And with the launch of the Model 3 just about a year away, the number of Teslas on the road is about to jump through the roof. Consequently, Tesla today announced some changes to its once-free Supercharger network.

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In a press released put out earlier this morning, Tesla explains that any Tesla vehicles purchased after January 1, 2017 will receive approximately 1,000 miles worth of Supercharger credits. Once that threshold is reached, Tesla says that drivers will have to pay a small fee for Supercharger access. Not to worry, Tesla says that the price will be lower than what it costs to fill up a tank of gas on a comparable car. Notably, existing Tesla drivers will not be impacted by the change.

Tesla’s full press release reads:

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 U.S., 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.

Ensuring Use for Long-Distance Travel
For Teslas ordered after January 1, 2017, 400 kWh of free Supercharging credits (roughly 1,000 miles) will be included annually so that all owners can continue to enjoy free Supercharging during travel. Beyond that, there will be a small fee to Supercharge which will be charged incrementally and cost less than the price of filling up a comparable gas car. All cars will continue to come standard with the onboard hardware required for Supercharging.

We will release the details of the program later this year, and while prices may fluctuate over time and vary regionally based on the cost of electricity, our Supercharger Network will never be a profit center.

These changes will not impact current owners or any new Teslas ordered before January 1, 2017, as long as delivery is taken before April 1, 2017.

The Road Ahead
Just as you would charge your cell phone, we believe the best way to charge your car is either at home or at work, during the hours you’re not using it. For travelers, the Supercharger Network has become a powerful, unique benefit of Tesla ownership. As we approach the launch of Model 3, this update will enable us to greatly expand our Supercharger Network, providing customers with the best possible user experience and bringing sustainable transport to even more people.

It was a nice program while it lasted but it’s certainly easy to sympathize with Tesla’s position here. With nearly 400,00 Tesla Model 3 reservations in the books, Tesla had no choice but to initiate some sort of economic adjustment to its Supercharger program to prevent outright chaos. All the better, Tesla made a point to look out after existing Tesla owners by not removing their free access to the Supercharger network.

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