The “will they or won’t they?” argument over Tesla providing free-for-life unlimited Supercharger use is finally receiving more clarity. The company announced that it will provide roughly 1,000 free miles of energy before charging a fee for Supercharger use on cars built after January 1, 2017.
But is this the end for Tesla? Will people be lining up in throngs to cancel their Model 3 reservations? Boycotting Tesla and running to buy another car? Nope, not even a little bit. Here are some of the top reasons why this new announcement won’t deter buyers.
1. Pay less for your Tesla
I’ll jump right into arguably the best reason first. The vast majority of new cars buyers have a budget. That reality means having to choose carefully on the options to equip your Tesla with. By decoupling Supercharger use from the price of the vehicle, Tesla is theoretically able to reduce the price barrier for entry.
Plus, you wouldn’t necessarily want to incur a pre-estimated Supercharger energy cost, charged by Tesla, on a vehicle that may not see its fair share of long distance travel and Supercharger use.
Tesla is anticipated to publish details for its new Supercharging program by year end. But regardless of what will be announced, crowdsourced Model 3 reservation data captured through Model3Tracker.info suggests that it won’t even matter. Nearly 80% of Model 3 reservation holders said they were willing to pay an extra fee for access to the Supercharger network. This is even prior to Tesla announcing that it would begin charging for Supercharger use after the allotted 400 kWh cap (~1,000 miles).
2. You have to pay for fuel either way
The Tesla team knew and has repeatedly said that in order to further the adoption of sustainable transport, they had to make a car at least as compelling as its gasoline-powered counterpart. Since the Model 3 will be at least as compelling as a comparable gasoline car, would-be buyers aren’t going to ditch a vehicle that will require paying for fueling in favor of another vehicle that, too, will incur a cost on fuel. This is especially true when the majority of your charging can be done at home, which is infinitely more convenient, and more cost effective, than stopping at a gas station.
Charging at home, in most markets, is very favorable to the cost of gas. Charging on the Supercharger network beyond your free credits will also be favorable and “cost less than the price of filling up a comparable gas car”, according to Tesla. Mix that in with a growing destination program and I’m confident your Tesla road trips will still be economical.
3. Supercharger Credits can be rewarded
When I conceded that Supercharger credits may work after all, I talked about how Tesla could have fun with it. It’s your 1 year anniversary of ownership, take a trip on us! It’s Nikola Tesla’s birthday… You just reached 50,000 gasoline free miles… Aside from the ability to award additional free credits at will, Tesla could also decide to increase the amount of free credits they give per year. I truly believe Tesla is a good company that does right by its customers. For that reason, I think they aimed a bit low with the credit amounts to ensure they can afford to meet the promised amount. I also believe that if they use data to analyze the costs (they will) and find out that they can afford more than they are giving, they’ll do that too.
And remember …
At the end of the day, there’s no free lunch. Reasonable buyers know the truth. Free for life was not sustainable and a bit too good to be true. Model 3 is shaping up to be about the coolest and most important car of our lifetimes. For those of us stateside, an ode to the fighting spirit of America. Supporting a little, unknown company fighting against all odds – especially in light of current events – and completely upending an entire industry is worth every penny.
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