Electric car maker Tesla has today (September 17) killed off one of its major perks - free and unlimited fast charging through the Supercharger network.
Supercharging was for the last five years free for all Roadster, Model S and Model X buyers, with only owners of the new Model 3 expected to pay for the electricity taken from Tesla's charging stations.
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Free Supercharging was due to be taken away in 2017, but remained in place until this week, when chief executive Elon Musk said a referral system was about to end.
The system meant that current Tesla owners could send a referral code (found in their Tesla smartphone app) to new buyers of the Model S, X and 3, who then used the code to get free and unlimited Supercharger use for life.
Those who have used the code will retain free access to Tesla's worldwide Supercharger network for as long as they own their vehicle, but new buyers won't be so lucky. Instead, the same referral system will now give the recipient $100 of Supercharger use, which is enough for several battery refills - depending on where they charge, as Supercharge costs vary between state and country.
Musk said in a tweet on September 16: "Tesla owners can grant free Supercharging for life to a friend who buys S/3/X. Ends tomorrow night." He later clarified that the referral system is only applicable for Model S, X and 3 Performance owners, not those who bought the regular Model 3.
In a follow-up tweet asking if Tesla would offer free Supercharging when launching in new countries, like India, Musk said: "Sorry, it's not really sustainable at volume production & doesn't incent optimal behavior. We probably should have ended this earlier."
As well as the obvious cost of providing the electricity, Tesla is also looking at using the new Supercharger revenue stream to improve the charging experience. Currently, the charging stations are located where there is often little to do than wait, or walk to local amenities. Musk suggested in March how the stations could be transformed into retro restaurants, where drivers are served in their cars by staff on roller skates.
'Delivery logistics hell'
In other Tesla news this week, Musk apologized to a buyer who said their car was sat in a depot and had had its delivery date delayed multiple time. Musk replied to say the company had entered a new kind of hell. "Sorry, we've gone from production hell to delivery logistics hell, but this problem is far more tractable. We're making rapid progress. Should be solved shortly."
One-hour collision repair goal
Finally, Musk announced that Tesla is to bring most collision repairs in-house, due to outside firms taking "weeks to months for repairs".Musk tweeted: "Tesla is bringing most collision repairs in-house, as outside firms take weeks to months for repairs, driving Tesla owners (and us) crazy...Exciting to see some Tesla collision repair operations already completing within 24 hours. Aiming for same day soon, then under an hour...Goal is for repaired car to be better than before accident. Should always be true if damaged/used parts are correctly replaced with newer parts."