After 5 years, the Tesla Supercharger network will no longer be offering free, unlimited service. This is a system of 480-volt DC fast-charging stations built to allow longer journeys for their all-electric manufactured vehicles, the Model S, 3 and X, through quick charging of the vehicle's battery packs. The company began building the network in 2012, and by this August, there were 1,317 stations around the world with 10,738 chargers.
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Until a couple years ago, the network, which is widely considered the best and most extensive in the world, was available for free. This was supposed to end in early 2017, but the company has gone back and forth on the decision. Finally, on Friday afternoon, CEO Elon Musk tweeted, “Tesla owners can grant free Supercharging for life to a friend who buys S/3/X. Ends tomorrow night.”
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Starting today, Tesla owners will only be able to give $100 worth of Supercharging credit to those models’ buyers. Unfortunately, this only amounts to a few charges. While the stations are cheaper than filling up a tank of gas, they’re still expensive, and this was a big factor in the free offer with every sale. It’s possible that Tesla owners will now wait to charge at home, and the reduced use of the stations, along with the income from those who continue to use the network, should help increase revenue.
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Some feel this change won’t be permanent, but it certainly marks a giant shift for the company, especially considering how big a selling point this was for their vehicles. Tesla has indicated on multiple occasions that they were interested in having discussions with other auto manufacturers about sharing the Supercharger network, however no agreements have been completed or made public to date.
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