Tesla releases the details of its new Supercharger Credit program


The end of the unlimited free access to Tesla’s Supercharger network was announced back in November and the details were supposed to be released by the end of last year, but the company gave potential customers a 2-week extension to close their orders and therefore, Tesla is only now releasing the details.

The main detail being, of course, the price per kWh, which is fixed within each state or province in North America and within each country overseas.

Tesla owners will receive 400 kWh (kilowatt-hour) of free Supercharging credits (roughly 1,000 miles) annually on the anniversary of their delivery, which, as we reported when the program was first announced, should be enough to make Supercharging still free for most owners.

The company confirmed that it determined the amount based on current usage data of the network and they came to the conclusion that 400 kWh “covers the annual long-distance driving needs of the majority of their owners.” Therefore, the change will mainly affect owners who use the network more than the average, especially businesses like taxis, and should ultimately help with the overcrowding issue of the network, which is the goal of the new ‘Supercharger Credit’ program.

As for the experience itself, Tesla owners will be happy to know that nothing actually changes at the stations. The whole payment process is done through the ‘MyTesla’ account on Tesla’s website where owners will be able to access their charging history and see how many credits they have left.

It means that owners can still simply park and plug at Supercharger stations.

In most regions, the price is set per kWh since that’s how electricity is priced and therefore, it makes the most sense, but Tesla will be forced to sell access per minute in some jurisdictions where the sale of electricity is restricted.

In Texas for example, Tesla will be charging $0.08/minute for what it is calling ‘tier one’ charging, which is 60 kW charging or less, and $0.16/minute for ‘tier two’ (over 60 kW).

You can access the full pricing information here, which of course changes based on the electricity rates in each region, but here are some examples:

  • California: $0.20 per kWh
  • New York: $0.19 per kWh
  • Illinois: $0.15 per kWh

As you can see, it’s still significantly cheaper than gas and it’s also even cheaper than most independent charging networks since Tesla doesn’t aim to make a profit from the pricing model, but instead finance more charging stations.

A Model S owner would be able to travel from Los Angeles to New York for just over $100 in charging cost under the program.

Here’s the company’s blog post about the announcement:

Building the Supercharger Network for the Future

Tesla created the Supercharger network to make long-distance travel a seamless experience for drivers. Cars have always represented independence and the freedom to travel wherever and whenever people want to go. To enable this freedom, building a charging network that provides quick, convenient, and long-distance travel is critical to the adoption of electric vehicles. One of our top priorities this year is to significantly increase capacity of our Supercharger network. 

In November, we announced a change in the Supercharger program that allows us to reinvest in the network, accelerate its growth, relieve congestion, and bring all Tesla owners, current and Model 3,  the best Supercharging experience. Tesla Model S and Model X cars ordered after January 15, 2017 will receive 400 kWh (kilowatt-hour) of free Supercharging credits (roughly 1,000 miles) annually on the anniversary of their delivery. We carefully considered current Supercharger usage and found that 400 kWh covers the annual long-distance driving needs of the majority of our owners. As a result, most owners will continue to enjoy the benefits of Supercharging on road trips at no additional cost. 

If customers travel beyond their annual credit, they will be charged a small fee to Supercharge. In North America, pricing is fixed within each state or province; overseas, pricing is fixed within each country. In most regions, Tesla owners will pay per kWh as it’s the fairest way to pay for the exact energy used. However, due to local regulations, in several regions we will charge per minute of usage instead, though we are actively working with regulators to update the rules. What’s important is that in every region, Supercharging will remain simple, seamless and always significantly cheaper than gasoline. We are only aiming to recover a portion of our costs and set up a fair system for everyone; this will never be a profit center for Tesla. Customers can just plug in, charge up, and access their charging history anytime through their MyTesla account.  

To put the affordability of Supercharging into perspective, customers will pay about $15 for a road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles, about $120 from Los Angeles to New York, about €60 from Paris to Rome, and about ¥400 from Beijing to Shanghai.

We are excited to continue the expansion of the world’s fastest and most sophisticated charging network. Additional program details are available here.

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