Thought of the Day: Rapid Charger and Supercharger Abuse

Welcome to Thought of the Day! Join Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield as she poses a question for you all to think about and answer.

Today, we’re thinking about the promise made by Tesla CEO Elon Musk this weekend that the California company would soon be cracking down on Supercharger abuse — especially those who leave their car plugged into a Supercharger for hours at a time (sometimes even overnight).

We’re tying that in with stories from around the world that certain businesses — including taxi firms and sole traders — are using Tesla and other rapid charging networks for their own financial gain, making use of free electricity and unlimited charging to furnish their own pockets.

As a consequence, we’re asking this: how should rapid charging and Supercharger access be policed? Should it even be policed? And where does the line come between appropriate use and abuse?

Watch the video above, and leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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  • Matt Beard

    The problem is that Tesla advertised the Model S and Model X as having “free SuperCharging for life” and I am not aware of there being any significant small-print in any contract to allow them to change the rules. Maybe they need to keep free access for all the early vehicles that were sold with that promise. I do agree that it seems fair to charge customers who use the electricity for “business” or those that frequently charge at “local” chargers instead of at home – perhaps with a package that gives an allowance of discounted kWh per month on a monthly contract, or bulk-buying kWh in advance for a discount (much like mobile phone minutes). However, you can’t impose this on customers that were sold “free charging for life”.

    • Ben

      Tesla know when a car has completed its charging at a supercharger, its not difficult for them to email or text the owner when the charging is complete (i think this can already be done with an app). If the owner does not then disconnect and vacate the charging bay within say 10mins Tesla could then charge them for the time they are parked. This would still be honouring their promise of free charging for the life of the car but prevent people leaving cars parked in charging bays once they have finished charging.

  • Martin Lacey

    Disclaimer first – I don’t yet own a Tesla (have reserved a model 3).

    I see no relevance in business/private use of the Super charger network and think you have muddied the waters.

    The issues Tesla are going to address are poor charging station etiquette and ego-centrism.

    If you think you are somehow superior to other mortals you will use a charging station as your own private parking space… getting ICED or EV’d are evidence of (many) such people existing!

  • Eric Zucker

    Tesla always offered the Superchargers as a convenience to enable long-distance travel, and that’s how I use them.

    I like the concept of 400 free kWh per year, with extra energy available at reasonable cost. It definitely should limit abuse.

    Lets see more destination chargers in parking lots, restaurants, hotels, cinemas, shopping malls. Level 2, 10-15kW, enough to be worth plugging in each time the car sits for over an hour. Make sure those spots are reserved for EVs and don’t get ICEd.

    Long term parking lots (airports) could have even slower charging, like 2-3 kW.

    Paying for the energy isn’t the issue – it’s all about being able to top up when we’re not using the car.

  • Albemarle

    Given that there are unfortunately people who will always take advantage of a situation to the detriment of others, I see two issues: people using chargers when they shouldn’t and people blocking chargers after charging. The former is the issue that Tesla will address, the latter is a problem for the layout of the charging system. What if the charger was on an island in the parking lot and 6 or even 8 cars could reach the charger? Or I have seen a system where the charge cord is on an overhead gantry and can reach a whole row of cars. These layouts would help immensely.

    • Farmer_Dave

      Won’t work.

      Chargers typically have only one connection cable. Tesla cables lock to the car until removed by the car’s owner.

  • Jeff Laurence

    Charging customers on the time the charger is connected rather than on energy used. If the charging is free than charging a fee when connected while not charging could help minimize abuse. Some public stations around here already do that. (San Diego)

  • Farmer_Dave

    As I understand it the real issue at Tesla Superchargers is owners leaving fully charged cars plugged in for extended periods, thereby blocking anyone else from using the charger.

    Tesla servers know when a car is plugged in and they know when it is fully charged. A software app to bill customers for each minute/hour they overstay their charge would be fairly simple.

  • Mark Melocco

    I think it will be a while before suppliers come up with the perfect model.
    The Tesla free long distance chargingfor life was never going to be sustainable long term.
    The proposed Tesla annual KWh limit seems reasonable but it would be nice if you could roll your allocation over if it is not used in a given period.
    Should be interesting to watch from the seat of a free for life Model S.