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Elon Musk Suggests Tesla Model 3 Won't Get Free Supercharger Use (theverge.com) 228

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Verge: In response to a question about how the company would handle an influx of Model 3s to its Supercharging stations, which are currently offered as a free service to Tesla customers, Elon Musk said at Tesla's annual shareholder's conference in Mountain View, California, "it will not be free long distance for life unless you purchase that package." He did not specify what the "package" contained, nor did he say how much it would cost as an add-on with the purchase of a Model 3. His full quote reads: "Obviously, [free Supercharging] fundamentally has a cost. [...] The obvious thing to do is decouple that from the cost of the Model 3. So it will still be very cheap, and far cheaper than gasoline, to drive long-distance with the Model 3, but it will not be free long distance for life unless you purchase that package. I wish we could, but in order to achieve the economics, it has to be something like that." Tesla did recently announce their Gigafactory Grand Opening will be held on July 29, even if it isn't scheduled to begin production on lithium ion cells until next year.
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Elon Musk Suggests Tesla Model 3 Won't Get Free Supercharger Use

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  • More context (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @05:17PM (#52228607)

    From the article:

    "Elon Musk addressed a question from a young Model S P85D owner about how the company would handle an influx of Model 3s to its Supercharging stations"

    So basically some rich guy wanted to know if he had to share his charging station with the unwashed lower classes.

    • by ichthus ( 72442 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @05:27PM (#52228701) Homepage

      unwashed lower classes

      Sheesh, that's a bit harsh. Don't you think? I mean, it's not like they're driving '93 Escort wagons.

      • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @05:33PM (#52228745)

        unwashed lower classes

        Sheesh, that's a bit harsh. Don't you think? I mean, it's not like they're driving '93 Escort wagons.

        Are you my daughter in disguise? She's been bugging me to get the Escort washed for quite some time now...

        • I don't have a car, but when I did the conversation used to go like this.

          "How long is it since your car was washed?"

          "Dunno. When did it last rain?"

      • unwashed lower classes

        Sheesh, that's a bit harsh. Don't you think? I mean, it's not like they're driving '93 Escort wagons.

        There are many levels of class and states of cleanliness and, as recent US politics has shown, many more combinations.

    • And the answer was, sure, but THEY (the unwashed poor masses who buy the Model 3) will have to pay for it, while you (the rich washed) will still get yours for free. But it's going to be hard to unset the precedent set by Tesla and getting access to free super charging. It's expected now, buy a Tesla and get instant access to all this infrastructure so you can actually go someplace in that expensive set of wheels. (Not that you can actually GO anyplace really interesting on this infrastructure last time I

      • Re:More context (Score:4, Insightful)

        by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @05:58PM (#52228913) Homepage Journal

        "for free" meaning, you paid a hell of a lot more for your vehicle and part of that went for supercharger use.

        Funny use of "for free", but okay.

        Me, I'm looking forward to my "not for 'free'" electricity consuming Tesla, if they can just get them built. Breath-holding does not seem to be called for here.

        • Glad the useful range of less than 180 miles works for you. It doesn't for me.

          I know a guy who owns a Leaf that sits in his garage because the 50 mile round trip to work is a bit too risky even though the EPA says it goes 75 miles/charge.

          • Re:More context (Score:4, Interesting)

            by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @07:08PM (#52229347)

            I know a guy who owns a Leaf that sits in his garage because the 50 mile round trip to work is a bit too risky

            Many employers offer recharging outlets at work, so maybe he should look into that. In fact, maybe he should have looked into that before he bought the car.

            • Re:More context (Score:4, Informative)

              by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @07:24PM (#52229403)

              When he purchased the vehicle, he worked about 5 miles from home but was recently forced to change jobs. When he changed employers he asked that question and the new employer indicated they intended to provide chargers at the new facility. They didn't, even though they where shown on the plans. So, he's kind of stuck, not having much luck in his attempts to sell it, not being able to afford to trade and not interested in making too much of an issue out of it because he likes the new job.

              But my point is that range issues are real and a significant problem for some. All what you are used to I suppose. We used to be limited to about 40 miles in a stage coach on a good day. Now folks routinely do that much distance while drinking their morning cup of Joe fussing about how bad the traffic is because the speed is under 50 MPH..

              • Indeed. I wish we could drop the term "range anxiety" from our vocabulary - it sounds too much like blaming the user. Often (not always) the problem is range rather than anxiety.

                That being said, 50 miles round trip should be perfectly possible in good conditions, but you if things go wrong, you would need a charging point along the way.

              • But my point is that range issues are real and a significant problem for some.

                Were.

                You're talking about an old model of car with a range less than half of the current model, and that's not even talking about Telsas which across the board have a higher range than the Leaf.

              • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

                I own a Leaf and I do 50 mile round trips in the winter with the heater on quite regularly, no problem at all. In fact mine is normally 62 miles, most of it motorway. I typically arrive with 15-25% remaining, depending on conditions.

            • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

              Most of those have some moron in a Giant SUV parked in front of it. I just wish more businesses would tow and impound those stupid giant wastes of space that park where they dont belong.

          • He doesn't think he can do 50 miles on a single charge in a LEAF? The battery must be desperately sick for that to be the case. My 2015 doesn't even have the 30kWh battery and it can easily do 84 miles at highway speeds even with hills and stuff. 50 miles is no trouble at all even if I turn off all the energy saving stuff. Even if I only charge to 80% rather than all the way to 100% it will still easily do 67 miles. The EPA 75 miles a charge is pretty pessimistic in reality and is based on the average betwe

          • I know a guy who owns a Leaf that sits in his garage because the 50 mile round trip to work is a bit too risky even though the EPA says it goes 75 miles/charge.

            I know a guy who doesn't fly in a plane because he's scared of crashing.
            I also know a guy who on a daily bases has to tow huge loads and he bought a tiny little Twingo.

            So yes stupid people are everywhere. On a related note, the current model leaf gets 180 miles/charge. Maybe he should trade up if he's not using his car because he bought the wrong one.

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        What I will look forward to is the influx of "make your 3 look like an S to the charging station" adapters that will flood ebay. Fuck you rich asshole, you can wait for that unwashed poor person to use the charger.

        • What I will look forward to is the influx of "make your 3 look like an S to the charging station" adapters that will flood ebay. Fuck you rich asshole, you can wait for that unwashed poor person to use the charger.

          Yea, you know it won't take long to break that DRM code.... Can we say a quick flash upgrade to your Model 3's firmware and vola, free motion forever.

        • I can't say for sure, but I'd be very surprised if each tesla doesn't provide its serial number to the supercharger when it is plugged in, for logging purposes. If they were smart, they'd add in some cryptographic authentication as well, specifically to prevent any shenanigans.

          So Model 3 owners will likely be able to roll up to any supercharger and plug in as usual, and their credit card and will be charged accordingly. What they won't be able to do is pretend they are model S owners.

      • by Chuq ( 8564 )

        Face it, the charging stations where build only to answer the basic objection to how far can you go on a charge in that neat electric car of yours.

        Well.. yes? Same as a petrol station? You sound like it is controversial or a bad thing, for some reason?

        The difference is that an electric car can also refuel (overnight) anywhere there is a power outlet, such as your own house. The "public refuelling stations" only need to cater for the 5% of refuelling that happens on long distance road trips.

        • Well (and I say this as someone who lives within walking distance of his office and actually sold his car a year ago...) My parents live on the opposite coast of South Florida from me. Just long enough for a 200 mile charge to not be good for a round trip. Charging overnight isn't an option, because I have ZERO intention of staying overnight there. That pretty much eliminates the Tesla from my options when I eventually buy a new vehicle.

          As a commuter vehicle, it could work, even if I lived much farther fro

      • And the answer was, sure, but THEY (the unwashed poor masses who buy the Model 3) will have to pay for it, while you (the rich washed) will still get yours for free.

        Another way of looking at it would be:

        Sure, but THEY (the unwashed poor masses who buy the Model 3) will have the option of not paying for Supercharger access, while you (the rich washed) will still have to pay for access regardless if you ever intend on using it.

        I think this is a much more accurate statement.

    • Re:More context (Score:5, Interesting)

      by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @05:46PM (#52228829)

      So basically some rich guy wanted to know if he had to share his charging station with the unwashed lower classes.

      To be fair, it is a genuine concern. It takes me about 4 minutes to fill my car.

      In the last decade, I've had to wait for a pump only a couple times, and the longest wait was only a couple cars. (Maybe 10 minutes).

      If the new model is cheaper and a hit, demand for charging will rapidly outstrip supply.

      It takes an hour to charge a Tesla at a superstation. Its only going to take a small surge in electric vehicle to overwhelm a stations capacity. Get just 2-3 cars in front of you, and there goes half a DAY.

      • Whah?? I've been told by other Tesla owners that a charge takes 1/2 hour tops... you can do it while you step into a mcdonalds!
        • Re:More context (Score:5, Interesting)

          by imgod2u ( 812837 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @06:19PM (#52229077) Homepage

          If you're going for long-distance, the optimal strategy is to charge for 30 min to get to ~70% then drive to the next charging station. The charging rate for Li-Ion gets significantly slower as you approach 100%. You'll start out at around 120-130 KW and fall down to about 50 KW at 80%.

          It wasn't the case ~2 years ago but nowadays, the maximum distance between any 2 charging stations is about ~150 miles. So you should have plenty of charge after 30 min to get to the next station even if you drive like a maniac.

          • by CmdrPorno ( 115048 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @08:07PM (#52229577)

            "...the maximum distance between any 2 charging stations is about ~150 miles."

            Uh, no. Take a look at North and South Dakota, Montana, or a lot of other states out West. Also, a lot of interstate routes lack nearby Supercharger stations, and you'd have to take a significant detour to be able to quickly charge a Tesla. The Supercharger network still needs more stations. It's a lot better than Mary Barra (of GM)'s recent commentary to the effect that they wouldn't support infrastructure unless it helped everybody. Um, hello, you're trying to entice people to buy your Chevrolet Bolt with an iffy refueling network. The least you can do is support improving that iffy refueling network.

        • If no one is in front of you, perhaps... what if 3 people are in front of you?

          Sell 500,000 of these things and suddenly you'll need 20 times the locations to charge.

          • If no one is in front of you, perhaps... what if 3 people are in front of you?

            I have only once needed to wait at a supercharger, and then only for a few minutes. Waiting will be less of a problem as more people drive Teslas, because the demand will be more predictable over a larger number of cars, and Tesla will be installing a lot more superchargers.

          • That only makes sense if Tesla doesn't invest in further charging locations.
            Which, from everything seen so far and from where it is all going is not gonna happen.

            When your business revolves around selling batteries on wheels and plunking down chargers for those batteries everywhere in order to (pre)sell electricity - you're not in the car business, you're in electricity distribution business.

            They are already franchising "destination charging" and the car's system already informs you of nearest charging spot

        • by vux984 ( 928602 )

          "Like other rapid charging technologies, the Tesla Supercharger starts to ramp down its power delivery when the car reaches sixty percent full or so, achieving an 80 per cent charge in around 45 minutes. The rate of charge then dramatically slows down for the final 20 percent, which occurs some 115 minutes after plugging in. It's worth noting however, that after 60 minutes of being plugged in, the car was more than 90 per cent full, highlighting dramatically why it's not worth waiting around for that final

          • by tsotha ( 720379 )
            They have trip planning software that figures out how long you need to charge. One of the car magazines had a guy drive his Model S down the East Coast, and he chronicled the trip. He got directions like "Go to this charging station and charge for 23 minutes, then drive to that charge station and charge for 31 minutes." Presumably for shorter trips you just add enough electrons to get you home, where you can plug it in for the night.
            • This all just sounds so freaking complicated. EV owners insist it is simple, but it almost seems like sea travel by compass and sextant.
              • by Khyber ( 864651 )

                It's simply traveling using the electric equivalent of a gas station as a landmark. Nothing difficult about this, at all.

      • So basically some rich guy wanted to know if he had to share his charging station with the unwashed lower classes.

        To be fair, it is a genuine concern. It takes me about 4 minutes to fill my car.

        In the last decade, I've had to wait for a pump only a couple times, and the longest wait was only a couple cars. (Maybe 10 minutes).

        If the new model is cheaper and a hit, demand for charging will rapidly outstrip supply.

        It takes an hour to charge a Tesla at a superstation. Its only going to take a small surge in electric vehicle to overwhelm a stations capacity. Get just 2-3 cars in front of you, and there goes half a DAY.

        They just need to monitor the batteries (# of charges, ser. #, etc.) and then have a station that swaps the discharged battery with a charged one of similar age and condition. Then they could be charging whole racks of batteries all day. Most likely have a proprietary mount from below the car so you drive in like an oil change station and sit while they do the swap. Premium members would always get the youngest batteries, a latte, windshield washed, etc..

      • It takes an hour to charge a Tesla at a superstation

        What's a supercharger? Owners of electric vehicles all over the world who get into their fully charged cars every morning wish to know!

        There's a fundamental difference in economics. While you're right that demand will increase it should also be noted how that demand compares to a regular car. I live in a country with 15000 Model S Teslas and only 2 superchargers. I've yet to see a car "filling up" at either of them. That said I have seen hundreds of Teslas plugged into walls all over the country, at the air

        • by vux984 ( 928602 )

          at the airport, in shopping malls, in the street, in the Surburbs, even my local sports hall has a power outlet and a preferred parking spot for EVs.

          And all of these are going to be woefully inadequate unless we see some major rollouts made within the next few years.

          And while this model has been a lot of fun for the early adopters, the shopping malls, airports, sports bars etc aren't going to be keen on supplying the entire urban vehicle fleet free electricity either. My shopping local shopping mall has upwards of 5,000 parking spots. And maybe 10 of those are powered for EVs. Right now it amounts to running a few space heaters for good PR.

          What happens

          • by geoskd ( 321194 )

            And most of the money isn't going to the electricity itself, but to the electrification upgrades, and the billing and support infrastructure to charge for it.

            It is a common misconception that EVs require lots of power. Even the least efficient of the lot use far less electricity than you would expect. It is largely because people have been accustomed to home electrical equipment that seems underpowered compared to gasoline equivalents. It gives people the impression that it takes a huge amount of power to move a car. In reality, it doesn't take nearly that much. A typical EV traveling 10 miles each way for a daily commute uses the same amount of power as leaving

            • by vux984 ( 928602 )

              uses the same amount of power as leaving a mid sized window air conditioner running 24/7.

              aka the most power hungry appliance in the entire house?

              "For level 1 charging when plugged into regular 120VAC outlet, a lot of cars (like the Chevy Volt) will limit to 12A which is 1.4 kW"

              https://m.reddit.com/r/askscie... [reddit.com]

              I realize the cite is reddit... feel free to correct me if its wrong.

              1.4kW x 5000 parking spots = 7MW
              vs 1MW baseline to run a mall, per your claim

              Unless my math is wrong? That appears to be a pretty substantial increase... even if half the spots were empty. It would still be a major increase and expense for the electricity. Nevermind the significant electrical upgrades that would surely be required, not to mention the

              • by geoskd ( 321194 )

                100? In a mall with 5000 spots? we're projecting mainstream electric vehicles here. 100 is sufficient for 2015-2020... but what about when half of all new cars are electric? or 2/3rds? that's potentially not THAT far away.

                Yes, that would be relatively acceptable. People will typically *NOT* be charging at places like the mall, or Taco Bell, or whatever in the new transportation economy. The reason is necessity. Charging during the day is likely to remain more expensive than at night, and once people have to pay to charge at these locations, they will mostly not bother. The amount of charge you get by a half an hour on a 15Amp circuit is not enough to make or break a trip to the mall, so no one will care. The places that will

                • by vux984 ( 928602 )

                  So we come to an agreement in a round about way... "charging at airports, shopping malls, and sports bars" ISN'T going to be a solution. These places aren't going to do it at scale.

                  So, yes, 100 spots is plenty for a typical mall

                  vs

                  The only really limiting factor in EV adoption is the lack of charging stations at places of employment.

                  You do realize of course that the average mall employs plenty more than 100 people?

                  Those 5 spots next to the handicapped spots are PR fluff and pocket change. Will the mall even spring for electrified parking for the people who work there? Doubtful, they'll do even that on their dime... that's going to be a half a MW or so.

                  Empl

                • People will typically *NOT* be charging at places like the mall

                  That's new to both me and my local mall which has a note saying they are putting in an additional 20 charging stations by the end of the year due to "popular demand".

                  And it's not a big American style mall either.

          • And all of these are going to be woefully inadequate unless we see some major rollouts made within the next few years.

            Funny you should say that. It's almost like not every country in the world is resting on their laurels.

      • by Pontiac ( 135778 )

        The only time you should need the supercharger is on a road trip.. the rest of the time top it off at home while you sleep. You know.. that thing you can't do with a gas powered car. Holiday weekends may get ugly but your average road top shouldn't be an issue.

        • by vux984 ( 928602 )

          Maybe. To charge an 85kW Tesla battery is going to run you $10 to $20 in electricity depending where you live. The EV owners I've encountered seem to maximize their use of "free" charging stations around town rather than pay for there own (already very inexpensive) "fuel", and frankly they seem pretty entitled about the whole thing too.

          They don't pay for gas (which is fine of course). They don't pay fuel taxes to support infrastructure -- which is not fine. And it seems a lot of them don't think they should

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      It's a reasonable concern though. As fast as they are building them they can't keep up with current sales. People are asshats when something is free.

      A lot of EV owners support reasonable charging for charging because it discourages people just wanting a couple of quid's worth of electricity for nowt, and blocking people who need it to get home.

    • by Pontiac ( 135778 )

      Just like the 60kw S models it will probably be a $2500 extra cost option.
      http://shop.teslamotors.com/products/enable-supercharging

  • by Zandamesh ( 1689334 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @05:20PM (#52228641)

    Isn't this specified in the options when you pre-order a model 3? Why is this news?

  • by EndlessNameless ( 673105 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @05:47PM (#52228831)

    Lower margins on a mass-market vehicle means there isn't enough money to pay the electrical bill for the lifetime of the vehicle.

    Are people really getting worked up over basic and obvious economic decisions?

    I know two people who own Teslas, and both of them bought the in-home charger regardless of the availability of "free" charging. Topping up costs way less than a tank of gas, and they don't feel like wasting time at the station.

    The only reason Tesla could offer free charging in the first place is because the electricity costs so much less than gasoline. Their "free" fillup simply was not a large value to begin with---except for the convenience it offered on long trips.

    • Lower margins on a mass-market vehicle means there isn't enough money to pay the electrical bill for the lifetime of the vehicle.

      Are people really getting worked up over basic and obvious economic decisions?

      I know two people who own Teslas, and both of them bought the in-home charger regardless of the availability of "free" charging. Topping up costs way less than a tank of gas, and they don't feel like wasting time at the station.

      The only reason Tesla could offer free charging in the first place is because the electricity costs so much less than gasoline. Their "free" fillup simply was not a large value to begin with---except for the convenience it offered on long trips.

      It was meant primarily to be free charging for trips when yo can't charge at home; although some Tesla owners use it as a regular charging station. That works while the concentration of Teslas is low so charging stations tend to be available. Put a significant number of Model 3's on the road and all of a sudden the free charging becomes "feee if space is available" and if Model 3 owners buy the package they no doubt will feel they are entitled to use them on a regal basis; the end result will be a lot of an

  • A super charger is somewhere north of 400 volts at around 400 amps. That's 4x what a typical house service can draw (for the *entire* house) and it still takes an hour.

    The amount of energy you transfer in 4 minutes at a gas pump is staggering. If you could charge an electric vehicle that fast, I wouldn't want to be anywhere that charging system. You'd be at around 5kv at 400A. (Or the conductors would be as big as your leg to get the voltage down) If anything goes wrong, Think flesh vaporizing arcing explos

    • Think flesh vaporizing arcing explosions -- not my idea of fun.

      Yeah, that sounds way worse that flesh vaporizing gasoline explosions...

      https://www.google.com/#q=gas+... [google.com]

    • by imgod2u ( 812837 )

      The supercharger charges at a maximum rate of ~400V and 300A (~120KW). The reason it takes an hour is because that rate slows down significantly as you approach 100%. Limitations on the Li-Ion battery and all.

      At full 120KW, it'd take exactly 30 min to fill up a 60KWh battery. And 45 min to fill up a 90KWh battery.

  • Didn't see this coming at all! Nope! Huge surprise!
  • In the Model 3 launch video Musk clearly says the Model 3 will be supercharger "capable". Anyone paying attention will have noticed that Musk did not promise free supercharging. Why some Model 3 reservation holders expect this is a mystery.

    In other news, none of the manufacturers of any of my ICE powered cars have given me free fuel either.

    When I get my Model 3, I will be perfectly content to pay for all the electricity I use to charge my car.

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