Up until this year, Tesla owners were able to charge their cars at a variety of Supercharging stations for free. Then Tesla announced last year that would phase the program out in favor of a new pricing scheme for owners after the new year. Now Tesla has announced that new owners will still get to use free charging as long as they obtain a referral code from an existing Tesla owner.
Starting on Friday, May 26th, “existing owners can give free, unlimited Supercharging to up to five friends by sharing their referral code.”. This courtesy also extends to current Tesla owners who decide to purchase a new Tesla vehicle.
Prior to the new program, owners had to have purchased their car before January 1st of this year in order to qualify for lifetime free charging. As of now, those who buy their car after the cutoff date will receive up to 400 kWh of power for free per year (approximately 1,000 miles). Afterward, they will pay a modest fee that Tesla says will be “less than the price of filling up a comparable gas car.”
In addition, an additional fee of $0.40 per minute will be tacked on if you leave your car at the charger after it has finished charging. This is a response to those who were simply leaving their cars at a charging station for hours at a time and creating congestion:
You're right, this is becoming an issue. Supercharger spots are meant for charging, not parking. Will take action.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 11, 2016
To clarify, Musk did mention that the fee would be relative and will only take effect if the charging bays are crowded:
We are going to modify this so that people only pay a fee if most bays are occupied. If the site is basically deserted, no problem to park.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 17, 2016
So as of now, if you are a current Tesla owner who purchased their vehicle prior to the January 1st cutoff date, you’re good. Enjoy your free lifetime Supercharging charging. But don’t forget, you have five referral codes to give out to extend the free charging courtesy! If you are someone that bought a Tesla vehicle after the cutoff date, you have 400 kWh for free before you will have to start paying a fee. Better start making some Tesla owning friends!