Free supercharging from Tesla referral program ends Sept 16 – replaced with $100 charging credit

Last month, we reported on Tesla’s update to its referral program which will finally put an end to unlimited free supercharging, starting with orders placed after September 16th.

At the time, the plan was to downgrade the perk for ordering with a Tesla referral code to a year of free supercharging.  Now, less than a week before the expiry of the program, Tesla has changed things up again, and will instead offer a $100 supercharging credit to customers who buy a new Model S, X or Model 3 Performance using a code from a current owner.

The other awards are unchanged for now – at least through September 16th.

You can still enter to win a chance to race the Tesla Semi, simply by using an owner’s referral code to sign up for the Tesla newsletter.  If you do, both you and the owner get an entry into a weekly raffle with a chance to drive the Tesla Semi around Tesla’s test track.

For reference, here is the full list of awards for owners:

1 to 2 Qualifying Referrals: Owners can choose either of the options below for each of their first and second referrals.

  • Signature Black Wall Connector This matte black Wall Connector is exclusive to the Referral Program and includes an etch of Elon’s signature. This award will start shipping in July 2018.
  • Founders Series Tesla Model S for Kids Share the Tesla experience with your kids, with this miniature drivable electric Model S – including working headlights, a sound system, and a charge port, just like yours.

3 Qualifying Referrals: Early Access Token for Solar Roof Be one of the first to get Solar Roof with this early-access token for priority scheduling of a Solar Roof installation. If you do not use this award, the token may be given to a friend.

4 Qualifying Referrals: Owners can choose either of the options below for their fourth referral.

  • 21” Arachnid Wheels for Model S or 22” Turbine Wheels for Model X Enhance the performance of your Tesla with these exclusive wheels.
  • One Week with Model S or Model X Experience a new Model S or Model X for one week—at home or on the road. If you do not use this award, this exclusive test drive may be given to a friend.

5 Qualifying Referrals:

  • Tesla Unveiling Invitation Experience an official unveiling event. Owners who reach five referral orders will be invited to a future unveiling event. Your VIP invitation will be valid for you and one guest.
  • Founders Series Powerwall 2 Store energy for future use and provide backup power with this red, limited-production Powerwall 2 home battery.

You can also use a code on any Tesla solar energy installation.  If you use a code when installing solar, you’ll get a 5-year extension on the limited warranty for your solar system, and the code’s owner will receive the prizes below:

Solar: 5-Year Extended Limited Warranty

Owners can give five friends a 5-year extended limited warranty on a new solar energy system installation, and will be eligible to receive referral awards.

1 to 4 Qualifying Referrals: Receive $400 cash or $750 in credit per each installed referral. Credits are valid for 12 months from the referral installation date and can be used toward new Tesla products or accessories.

5 Qualifying Referrals: Founders Series Powerwall 2 Store energy for future use and provide backup power with this red, limited-production Powerwall 2 home battery.

*Update: Previously, this article and Tesla’s website suggested that the supercharging credits expire after one year, as the solar roof program credits do.  We reached out to Tesla and they have clarified that the $100 supercharging credits DO NOT expire after one year.  The referral program page has been updated to say that the credits do not expire for the entire duration of original vehicle ownership.

Electrek’s Take

As I mentioned in our previous article about this change, this was bound to happen sometime and I’m glad they’re finally getting around to doing it, so we can stop the speculation on when unlimited supercharging would finally go away, and start to alleviate some overcrowding at superchargers. A year of free supercharging seemed like a good, fair perk to offer and it seemed like Tesla could/would maintain that perk indefinitely without having to tweak the referral program around all the time.

Well, that’s what I thought anyway. Now we’re just around the corner from September 16th and Tesla’s gone and changed it up again.

On the one hand, this seems like a negative change from the customer perspective – an owner who has a year of free supercharging could easily get $100 worth of benefit out of it, by planning a big roadtrip or two in their first year of ownership, and/or using superchargers for the first week or two of ownership while they get their home charging situation worked out.

On the other hand, since the $100 credit doesn’t expire, this could be beneficial for occasional users of the system, or those who aren’t able to plan a roadtrip in their first year of ownership.  So for a few people, this change might be a little better than the previous perk.

Right now, Model S and X get 400kWh of supercharging credits each year – which is somewhere in the range of $50-100 worth of electricity, depending on what Tesla charges for electricity in each region.  So a $100 supercharge credit is on the high end of the supercharging allowance afforded to those vehicles already, and enough for about 1,000-3,000 miles of free roadtripping, depending on where you’re doing the roadtrip.

Another positive effect this might have is to slightly ease possible future overcrowding at superchargers, because a glut of new cars hitting the road with a year of free supercharging might have been incentivized to over-use the network to “get their money’s worth.”  Switching to a flat credit could at least remove that incentive to overuse the system, which would be a bonus as Tesla continues to expand their charging network to get ready to charge the huge amount of cars they’re selling.

So while this move may be a bit disappointing compared to the perks available in previous versions of the program, it could help with supercharger overcrowding so it’s not all bad.  After all, it’s still a perk, and it’s still better than nothing.  And if you’re disappointed by the $100, you can always order your car before September 16th (that’s just a few days away) to receive unlimited supercharging for as long as you own your vehicle.

What do you think about this change?  Let us know in the comments.

If you’re looking to order a Model S, X, or Model 3 Performance, you can use our referral code to receive unlimited supercharging on any vehicle order placed between now and September 16, or a $100 supercharging credit on any order placed after that.  The same code can be used for a 5-year extended warranty on a Tesla solar energy system.

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Avatar for Jameson Dow Jameson Dow

Jameson has been driving electric vehicles since 2009, and has been writing about them and about clean energy for since 2016.

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