Tesla Introduces Supercharger Idle Fees To Discourage Customers Overstaying Their Welcome…Sometimes

Last week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed via Twitter that Tesla was working on a way to discourage Tesla owners from leaving their cars parked at a Supercharger station for extended periods of time long after their car had finished charging.

Tesla is now fining people who stay at Superchargers beyond the end of their charge cycle.

And over the weekend the California company announced exactly what form that discouragement will take: a per-minute “Idle Fee” levied against those who leave their cars at a Tesla Supercharger after it has finished charging. What’s more, the policy is going live today, meaning those relying on the Supercharger network to make long-distance trips this holiday season shouldn’t be left queueing behind abandoned cars.

From now on, Tesla Model S or Model X owners who leave their cars plugged in at a Supercharger after their car has completed charging will be charged an idle fee of $0.40 (U.S.) per minute. Similarly, Canadian customers will be charged CAN $0.50 per minute they leave their car after it has finished charging, while those in the UK will be charged £0.30 per minute and those in the Euro-zone will be charged 0.35€ for overstaying their welcome.

Musk: customers won’t be charged if the location isn’t under high use.

Fees for other countries can be viewed at Tesla’s official support page detailing the new policy.

In addition to contacting its owners via email to let them know about the changes, Tesla has also rolled out an update to the Tesla Smartphone app to reflect the new policy. Rather than spring the new policy on owners, Tesla’s Smartphone app sends customers warning messages telling them their car will soon incur charges if it is left at the supercharger past the end of charging, with the first message sent as the car reaches 80 percent full.

If a customer moves their car within five minutes of it completing a charge, Tesla says it will waive any incurred fees for that charging session.

On its official page detailing the new policy, Tesla says customers will be billed for any idle fees incurred when their car next visits a Service Center, meaning that customers could accrue quite the bill if they ignore Tesla’s warnings to move their car after charging has completed — as much as $24 for every hour parked without charging.

So far, so good. But while the policy is a welcome one for those who have spent hours queueing for Supercharger access at some of the busiest Supercharger stations in places like California and Scandinavia, Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter on Saturday shortly after the announcement had been made to backtrack the policy slightly.

As originally stated, Tesla intended to charge customers who parked in Supercharger stalls beyond the end of their car’s charging cycle. But it appears after getting some complaints from Tesla owners who happily leave their cars beyond the end of charging if there are plenty of other spaces available, Musk tried to clarify things. Instead of charging everyone, he stated, customers would only be charged in situations where other charging stalls were not available.

While that sounds good on paper — and has managed to assuage the fears of those who didn’t feel the charge was fair if there were empty Supercharger stalls — the policy does create some grey areas.

What, for example, happens if a Supercharger station is empty at first when charging has completed (and thus the owner leaves their car parked) but then suddenly demand peaks? Logic dictates that customers would not be charged until their car becomes an issue for other customers, which could be minutes (or hours) after charging completed.

Some supercharger sites are more popular than others.

Of course, this isn’t a new concept. We’ve encountered other charging networks around the world using a similar policy to charge customers who continue to occupy a parking space after the car has finished charging. And given the number of electric cars in use around the world is rising at an ever-increasing rate, we think policies like this will become the norm rather than the exception.

As Tesla puts it, “a customer would never leave a car parked by the pump at a gas station,” and we’d have to agree.

Let’s hope the threat of financial penalties helps ensure some fairer Supercharger behavior.

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  • Stefan Wilms

    Tesla is right when pointing out that no one will leave a car parked next to a pump at a petrol station, but there is an important difference with charging points.

    Petrol or diesel you buy at dedicated places where there is not much else to do or buy. So you fill up, pay and leave.

    Charging points are often located near shops, restaurants, public buildings and so on. Not only that, but they can be found at prime locations, such as directly next to the entrance. Imagine this on a busy day with people fighting for parking spaces, while you can leave your electric car plugged in at the best spot of the parking lot. Okay, this is more of an issue for non-Tesla-specific charging locations, but still.

    I guess it will sort out itself when the number of charging points increases during the coming years. The range of future cars grows as well, so less charging will be needed halfway journeys.

  • Albemarle

    What happens if the owner comes out, removes the charge cable and leaves the car parked? Will Tesla know to bill them?

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