Tesla’s free Superchargers have been a hotly debated topic since they first went live for the Model S. People complained about how it wasn’t scalable, how the stalls would all fill up because of local freeloaders when it was designed for people taking long trips — suffice it to say that it has been a point of contention for the company — but at the same time, one of Tesla’s key differentiators.
In a Tesla, thanks to Superchargers it is possible to drive across the US using just the Tesla charging network. I put this to the test in real life last year when I drove ~2,600 miles from Ohio back home to California. It is possible to do this with other EVs but not on a single, easy to use, cost effective fast charging network. I had no issues finding a charging stall on my road trip but many users have had issues, especially around peak travel times, like Thanksgiving weekend in the US.
You're right, this is becoming an issue. Supercharger spots are meant for charging, not parking. Will take action.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 11, 2016
After a Tweet from Loic le Meur about how ridiculous it was that all of the Supercharging stalls being full was such a common occurrence and how it was blocking legitimate road trip users from using the stations, Elon responded (20 minutes later!) with a tweet that Tesla would develop and implement a fix.
6 days later, Tesla rolled out “idle fees” for owners taking up a Supercharger stall after charging had completed at a staggering $0.40/minute, but the full details were not clear.
When I’m out at a Supercharger, I try to be extremely conscientious and only charge as much as needed but there were two times since the idle fees were rolled out that I was in meetings that ran long and I was certain I had gone overtime.
When rolled out, it was shared that idle fees would accrue until the next visit to the Service Center at which time, there would be a reckoning…er…a reconciliation of any idle fees and accounts could be settled. Concerned that I was accruing idle fees over potentially many months, I was eager to get to the bottom of how they worked.
So instead of waiting 6 months until my next visit, I called the Service Center and asked what my balance was. To my surprise and delight, the answer was zero. That’s great…but how? The Tesla rep explained that idle fees were not a “you’re in the red, you’re paying a fee” kind of a deal but rather, the driver would be charged a fee if the vehicle was left idle when the Supercharger was more than half full.
I’m an optimist, so that resonated with me, and it was great to get clear on how the fees were implemented. Thankfully, I still haven’t run up any idle fees, though I’m sure my day will come soon enough with the amount of driving I do. Until then, charge on!
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