There are no real rules for the use of Tesla destination chargers but there is an etiquette that individual EV owners would be wise to follow so that the freedom of use is not restricted for everyone.
Firstly a history of destination chargers in Australia:
A Tesla destination charger, also known as a High Power Wall Charger (HPWC), is virtually the same as the device most Tesla owners have installed at home.
As well as Tesla providing a unit to each new Tesla owner they also provide one, and sometimes two, complimentary chargers to approved businesses around the country. You may find one in a 5 star hotel, you may also find one at a small cafe in a country town.
Up until around late 2017 the installation cost was also paid for by Tesla, but since that time any business looking to install destination chargers is almost always required to pay the installation cost itself.
In some areas, with no electrician nearby, this can cost up to $1500 – a big outlay for a charger that may only attract 20 cars in its first two years. For many locations, they’re never going to recoup the cost, but they do it, anyway, to be part of a sustainable future.
So how did all the hundreds of destination chargers end up at locations spread all over the country? Significantly, many early destination chargers were installed due to the hard work and persistence of Tesla vehicle owners who encouraged businesses to take the risk and accept a destination charger from Tesla. Bear in mind that many of these business owners had never heard of, or seen a Tesla until a few moments earlier when one pulled up into the car park.
In Australia, circa 2015, a Tesla was about as believable as a flying DeLorean – just imagine the discussion that followed, imagine the patience and belief that Tesla owner had as he convinced the business owner to install a Tesla destination charger.
So what is the etiquette for using Tesla destination chargers?
For large city hotels and shopping centres which got chargers and installation costs for free, they’re not really going to be too concerned with the added cost to their already massive electricity bills. I’m sure they’re keen for EV owners to return the favour, though, and be a paying customer. I’m also sure they’re not going to chastise every owner that sits in their car looking like a stalker!
But for many smaller businesses that have installed chargers, often at unreasonable installation costs, some ethical behaviour is required from EV owners.
Many businesses are showing goodwill in advance, hoping an EV owner will come in and purchase a meal, book a room or make some other financial contribution to the premises. If they require a fee for using the charger it could very well be previous EV owners had shown no good will in return. Sometimes this the result of a misunderstanding based on who pays for the electricity, or it is a disregard for others; only a small percentage of drivers behave this way but it quickly ruins it for the vast majority.
A few tips to remember:
*Before arrival check on Plugshare for any potential cost to charge. You can check on the Tesla touchscreen, but this information is not always up to date.
*If you’re still unsure of the cost go in and ask the staff, they may well say it’s free because you bothered to ask.
*If it’s your first visit, ask permission before plugging in. Courtesy may get you a free charge and a positive conversation.
*If you don’t like the price being requested for charging don’t use the charger, but also keep it polite, don’t complain and don’t rant on social media. Your behaviour effects all those who follow.
*If the destination charger is fairly new and staff don’t know how much to charge, be generous. If your car has consumed $7.45 of electricity, round it up $10 or more; it’s very likely the business owners have just spent well over a $1000 on an installation that will never recover the money. You, as a driver, are still making a big saving compared to a petrol vehicle.
*If the staff decline payment for charging but you still feel the need to pay, put some cash in the staff tip jar or the RFDS (charity) collection tin.