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Owning a Tesla Model 3 will be a little more expensive than we thought

Tesla Model 3 Supercharging

One of the big perks of Tesla ownership is access to the Supercharger network, a worldwide network of super-fast electric charging stations for Tesla owners. Use of the chargers is free for most Model S and Model X owners, but it won’t be for Model 3 owners. We knew that already, but details of how Tesla will charge for use of Superchargers may have just leaked.

Electrek found code on Tesla’s website that talks about “Supercharger Credits,” an option to use a credit card to buy Supercharger access by the kWh. If this plan works out, owning a Model 3 will be a little less simple and magical than we thought.

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The Supercharger network is an important part of making Teslas feasible. Sure, you might (and should) charge up at home most of the time, but being able to complete the occasional 500-mile trip without stopping overnight to charge is crucial for most Tesla owners. Tesla is already scrambling to build up its Supercharger infrastructure, but with hundreds of thousands of Model 3s set to be spewed out of Tesla’s huge factories, the Supercharger network will be under strain like never before. It’s a smart move from Tesla to prepare for the surge in demand, and come up with policies to limit Supercharger overcrowding.

But at the same time, not having the hassle and cost of filling up is one of the big selling points of EVs. Sure, selling the Model 3 for cheap means Tesla can’t just give away Supercharger access any more, but why not do what it did with old Model S 40/60 vehicles, and charge $2,500 after delivery for access to Superchargers?

Adding cost and complexity (show me a person who wants to use an app while refueling their car) destroys a little of the magic of Tesla and electric vehicles. It’s a sensible move from a company that’s growing up quickly, for sure. But it’s also the exact kind of move you’d expect from Chevy or BMW, guardians of the old-school way of doing things. Tesla has found success by ripping up the rulebook in the past — why not try it some more?