Electric carmaker Tesla has brought back free supercharging for customers of its premium Model S sedan and Model X SUV.
All new orders of Tesla’s premium electric cars will receive unlimited access to its DC Supercharging, at no extra cost, according to a tweet issued by the carmaker overnight on Sunday (Australian time) and as indicated in the online configurator.
For new Australian customers buying a Model S or Model X, this means access to what is currently the most widespread charging network in Australia, from Adelaide to Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, and Perth – a total of 31 charging sites to date and another 8 planned.
BREAKING: All new Model S and Model X orders now come with ⚡ free ⚡ unlimited ⚡ Supercharging ⚡
— Tesla (@Tesla) August 3, 2019
Tesla Superchargers allow DC fast-charging at rates of 120kW, enough to recharge the 100kWh battery in a Model S or Model X in around 50 minutes (even faster at the 250kW V3 Superchargers currently planned for roll out in the US).
While this is not as fast as the 350kW charging network being rolled out by EV charging network operator Chargefox, it remains a credible reason given by customers in Australia who make the “Tesla Stretch” to buy a Model S and X.
The free unlimited supercharging offer was originally offered to all Tesla customers from the inception of its Supercharger network, however this was pulled back in preference to a referral program that was available from time to time.
Most recently, until January 2019, Tesla drivers could access 6 free months of supercharging when they referred a friend to buy any Tesla vehicle (and that referral resulted in an actual sale).
However, in a bid to reduce costs and bring the promised “base model” $US35,000 Model 3 to market, Tesla underwent a series of cost cutting measures that included laying off staff, shutting down “non-essential” stores and closing down the referral program.
At the time this was seen as counter-intuitive to Tesla’s primary marketing strategy – viral word-of-mouth.
It also increased supercharging rates by 10% before doing a characteristic u-turn after customers rallied against the increase.
In Australia, that amounted to a new rate of 42 cents per kilowatt, an increase of $7 to completely charge up a 100kWh battery.
While Tesla has not commented on the reason behind the new offer for free supercharging, there is speculation that it is due to flagging sales of the S and X models as the more affordable and faster selling Model 3 steals the limelight (out of Tesla’s 95,200 deliveries in Q2 2019, 77,550 were Model 3s).
Naturally, the offer has caused some outrage on social media, with recent buyers of Model S and X vehicles missing out on the free supercharging perk.
It is indeed another turnaround for the EV maker – Musk has previously said that free unlimited supercharging is “not really sustainable” – but then, this is nothing new, as pushing the envelope has at times demanded the EV maker make decisions to allow it to continue its disruption of the auto industry.
According to an internal memo seen by Electrek, the unlimited free supercharging offer is not transferable, and any future buyers of used Model S and Model Xs will need to pay for their own charging.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.