Now this is where it becomes a little bit trickier. When the Supercharger network was first rolled out, one of its biggest selling points, convenience aside, was the fact it was free to use. Simply buy a Tesla car and you would have access to the brand’s charging stations at no extra cost. There was no limit on kWh used or frequency of visits, just plug in and pay nothing.
However, as Tesla’s cars became more popular and the investment in its Supercharger network became greater, the costs started to mount up for the firm, so in 2017 it pulled the plug on free charging. Essentially, Tesla cars registered after April 2017 currently pay 28p per kWh to use a Supercharger, while those bought before this date continue to benefit from free charging, even after an ownership change. That’s fairly cut and dry then. Well, not quite.
Many owners weren’t happy at the change, so to placate them, Tesla offered a referral scheme that encouraged existing drivers to recommend buying one of the firm’s cars to a friend. When a prospective buyer made a purchase, they handed over a code that entitled both them and the person who had referred them to free Supercharging for life.
Yet such was the success of this scheme that Tesla reduced the offer to 1000 free miles per year (represented as cash credits on your Tesla account), which works out at about 400kWh. And while those pre-2017 cars can transfer their free charging rights to future owners, any cars registered after this date have the referral credits available to only the first owner.
Confused? Yes, so are we. But that’s not all, because even those cars with free Supercharging for life can’t access this benefit if they’re being used as business vehicles, which often clock up larger mileages. For example, a private hire firm based around Gatwick Airport racked up more than 900,000 miles over three years with its trio of Model S cabs.
That said, billing is straightforward once you’ve set up your account on the Tesla app, with no need to register a payment card every time you roll up to a new charger. Simply plug in and the software does the rest, automatically billing you when you’ve finished using the charger.