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The Tesla buffet: 2 reasons why all-you-can-eat isn't sustainable for Tesla Superchargers

Tesla cannot keep giving "all-you-can-eat" on superchargers. There must be a nominal cost, big enough to keep people away who could otherwise have charged at home.

Today I saw a good discussion in Tesla Owner's Group where a user, named Core Lohse discussed 2 reasons why Tesla owners use local Superchargers to charge their cars and why all-you-can-eat approach isn't sustainable for Tesla Susperchargers. Here is Lohse in his own words.

Free something, like a buffet. You pay for all-you-can-eat, that's the deal, and then you dig in. Most people eat until the food comes out of their ears. Not healthy, but that's the way all-you-can-eat works. In this case, however, it's a limited time-frame, and the restaurant knows that at some stage, you will be full.

Supercharging is detrimental towards other businesses developing the charging infrastructure. It's hard to compete against ... free. Well, let's call it "included". The promise and the business model is awesome, and has definitely helped Tesla being successful so far. It's not sustainable, however.

If you are not on a road trip, but "live 5 minutes away from a supercharger", there could be two main reasons for using "your" local supercharger:

  1. You want to save a few dollars each time you charge
  2. You are not able to charge at home (nor work/uni/school/whatever)

In some cities, like Hong Kong and London, a great majority of people park in shared parking, street level and so on. In this case, superchargers make sense in that it enables a much faster rollout compared to no superchargers. Elon directly said so - and of course, so many supercharging stations in Hong Kong are NOT made for long distance travel - as they are all placed well within dense city limits.

Also See: Free Supercharging for the Model 3, Not So Fast

This, however, is not a question of free or paid. It's a question of availability. Even if people had to pay in the order of 5 USD for each full charge, they could be happy they can charge at all - now that local infrastructure otherwise lack capacity. Pushing those who can charge at home away greatly frees up capacity. They could even include a penalty so if you overstay by x minutes after charging is done, it adds a "move your car" fee.

Since this car is so automatic, it would have been so easy to set up an automatic payment system for supercharging. If you want supercharging, give us a credit card number. Or buy some credits ahead of time (maybe even in Tesla stores, if you insist on cash).

The price would be exactly the cost of the electricity. And add parking, if the supercharging is in a paid parking area (yes, some are).

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Depending on where you live, the cost would be a few dollars every time you charge. The coffee or burger you consumed while charging would be similar cost - no big deal!

It is really unwise that people who can charge at home still join the queue at the local supercharger - just because they can save up for a coffee that way. For all the Tesla cars sold until now, where up front supercharging all-you-can-eat was paid - and a promise of free electrons: They should be allowed to keep that. But for millions of Teslas to come over the years, there has to be some fair deal of sharing the cost.

It's all about sharing the resources in a fair way.