Tesla ends free Supercharger access referrals for all customers

Tesla ends free Supercharger access in a means to cut costs and grow its charging networks

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Tesla has completely shuttered its free unlimited Supercharging bonus for new Tesla owners. Yes, this means anyone buying a new Tesla, regardless of if it’s a Model S, Model X or Model 3 Performance, won’t get free Supercharger access anymore – even with a friend’s referral code.

Replacing the service is a referral programme that gives £100 of Supercharging credit to new buyers. While not anything to really sniff at, it’s a significant drop on what was previously offered as £100 will only pay for a handful of charges, compared to the lifetime of free charges previously offered.

Tesla has confirmed that those who currently have free Supercharging won’t lose it as long as they keep their cars. If they sell it on, it won’t carry over with the car and they won’t get it back if they decide to buy another: “Free unlimited Supercharging and Supercharging credits will only apply to the original vehicle owner and only for the duration of original vehicle ownership.”

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Tesla has spoken previously about ending this referral incentive which was supposed to be killed in early 2017, but instead opted to keep it going to all but standard Model 3 purchases. It wasn’t until Elon Musk tweeted on Sunday that the service was coming to an end on Monday evening that people were made aware of the change.

Generally, his message was well received with more people erupting over the financial state of Tesla than deriding him and his company for removing a valuable referral benefit.

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It’s not particularly the end of the world as referral scheme benefits go though. Tesla owners who refer a friend still get a slew of benefits for doing so, and £100 of free charging is enough to get people familiar with the Supercharging network.

One knock-on effect this shift may have is helping reduce congestion at Telsa’s Supercharger locations. Because charging is free, many owners would charge their cars there instead of at their home. This move should mean that more people charge at home where it’s cheaper and only rely on Superchargers when on the move and in need of a quick top-up.

With more people paying to use Superchargers, Tesla can then use the extra money to help expand it further – as it has previously said it would do with money generated from Superchargers. This should mean more chargers installed outside of cities, helping those embarking on long-distance journeys or people who own Teslas in more remote locations. It also can’t hurt to have more chargers on the road in general, as it’ll only increase awareness and trust in electric vehicles as a whole going forward.

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Obviously the switch from unlimited charges to just £100 is a cost-cutting measure to ensure the company turns a profit as it can take aside less revenue per car to cover the cost of free Supercharging. It also means the company could roll out it’s $2,000 (£1,500) Supercharger access fee again, so those who do want it can still buy it – although that’s not something Tesla has said it’s interested in doing just yet.

Those fearing the seamless experience of using a Supercharger will change have nothing to worry about as Tesla does still plan to take payments online post-charge. This means you can still just drive up, hook in and then head off when done without needing to faff around with payment methods when all you want to do is charge.

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