Free Supercharging For 60-kWh Tesla Model S: How A Lucky Few Got It

2012 Tesla Model S Signature

2012 Tesla Model S Signature

Enlarge Photo

It looks like Tesla may just have done it again.

Compared to Nissan's challenged public responses to hot-weather range-loss problems in its Leaf electric car, a recent move by Tesla to offer free Supercharging to early buyers of the 60-kWh version of its 2012 Model S looks like brilliant customer relations.

Or at least it looks brilliant to me. I'm set to take delivery in December of my own all-electric Tesla Model S luxury sport sedan.

And after a surprise e-mail from Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] earlier this week, I'm a really, really happy customer right now.

Here's the story.

I put down my deposit more than three years ago, so I'm pretty early in the queue (reservation P 717, out of 13,000 outstanding as of last week).

My number came up in August, and I chose my battery size (60 kWh, the middle of three alternatives) and color (green), specified the options I wanted, and signed my purchase agreement on September 5.

One of the options supposedly available to me at that time was Supercharging: the onboard hardware and software required to use the network of ultra-fast charging stations that Tesla had been teasing for months--though it hadn't then officially unveiled any details.

According to Tesla's website, Supercharging was to be standard on the 85-kWh Model S, optional at a price "to be determined" on 60-kWh cars like mine, and unavailable on the base 40-kWh version.

But I didn't see a Supercharger box to check on my purchase agreement. No problem: Since I knew little about Supercharging, and the price had not yet been determined,  I wouldn't have opted for it any case.

Then, on September 24, Tesla officially unveiled the Supercharger system. The big news was that the charging service would be free for all Model S owners equipped with the hardware to handle it.

Four days later, I got an e-mail announcing the price of the Supercharger option for my 60-kWh car: $1,000 for the hardware, plus $1,000 for software testing and calibration.

But, the e-mail continued, "Since you are an early reservation holder and booked your 60-kWh Model S before complete Supercharging information was available, we planned ahead to build your Model S with Supercharger hardware at no additional cost to you."

2012 Tesla Model S Charging Connector

2012 Tesla Model S Charging Connector

Enlarge Photo

The testing and calibration, however, would still cost $1,000. Did I want my Supercharging hardware enabled at that price?

I mulled that one for a while. Though I don't often make long cross-country trips, it would be nice to have the option.

It seemed a waste to have the Supercharging hardware in the car, but unusable. And, frankly, I didn't want to miss out on the full Tesla experience.

So, what the hell? I clicked the "Add Supercharging " box.

Four days later came the e-mail that shocked and delighted me.

"After revisiting some of the explanations we used on our website and in our Design Studio the past few months, we feel as though it was not as clear as it should have been regarding the requirement to activate Supercharging on 60-kWh battery cars."

"As a result, we are going to waive the entire fee to enable Supercharging on your 60-kWh Model S. You will now receive free, unlimited Supercharging on your car at no additional cost."

Tesla Supercharger fast-charging system for electric cars

Tesla Supercharger fast-charging system for electric cars

Enlarge Photo

"We apologize for the confusion. We thought our explanations were clear, but they were not clear enough."

To be honest, I was never confused about the Supercharger option.

But I will happily accept Tesla's largesse, and take it as a very positive sign for the future: This is a company that clearly wants to keep its customers happy.

Now, about that Model S service program....

David Noland is a Tesla Model S reservation holder and freelance writer who lives north of New York City. This is his fifth article for High Gear Media.


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Comments (13)
  1. So for the future... Supercharging is a $12,000 upgrade from the base model right? $10,000 for the 60kWh battery and $2,000 extra.

    Good example of keeping a customer happy.

  2. Brian - Technically, Supercharging may or may not be an option at any given price. It depends on the car you purchase. It's included for free on the 85kWh car. It's not available on the 40kWh car. However, it is a $2K option on the 60kWh car. So technically speaking, it's not a $12K upgrade on any car.

  3. From the base car you need to spend $12k to get one that can use these chargers is what I was getting at. So the 40kWh car is always and forever stuck with slow charging and trips within its BINGO fuel range.

    Are the superchargers close enough to make trips with a 60kWh car possible if a little challenging?

  4. Word is that the Superchargers will be about 150 miles apart. That is enough for the 85 kWh to make it from point to point with about 30 minutes on charge (assuming a low state of charge upon arrival).

    The 60 kWh has a range of 230 miles at 55 mph (EPA numbers are not out yet) and should be able to make 150 miles easily but it will have to charge longer to make the next 150 miles due to the charge tapering sooner as the smaller pack fills up.

  5. what's the fallback option when there's a 45 minute traffic delay due to aciddent or other unforseen occurence???

  6. That's a great story. Hope to hear more when you get you Model S.

  7. This is a happy ending indeed. But, it was driven by a firestorm of criticism on the Tesla forums last weekend when the Supercharger pricing for the 60kWh battery was announced and was at odds with their Web site that appeared to indicate it was included at no additional cost. Those who had signed a purchase agreement with that understanding felt betrayed. In the end, Tesla did the right thing!

  8. I missed being in your desirable position by about 500 orders (P6316) here, but I am happily ponying up the $2k for 60 kWh Model S, even if I never use it. The resale value of lifetime free Superchagering should be pretty compelling.

  9. Great response by Tesla to customer concerns expressed in their forums. Nice to see to confusion about the option was quickly resolved.

  10. so supercharging "could" be had for $2,000. at 2½ cents a mile, i would have to drive 80,000 miles in my LEAF to recover that cost. hmmm?? that sounds fair. as it is, i have driven 23,000 miles and have yet to pay a dime for a public fact, i type this from the Tumwater DCFC. at 7.4 Kwh and counting

  11. I also was one of the lucky ones. Now how about making sure the $7500federal tax credit helps a US car maker

  12. This Tesla free supercharging promo is cool very much like "Sun Country Highway's World's Longest/Greenest Highway Project". It is a network of strategically placed chargers coast to coast in Canada of 90 amp stations that are free public access (but to all EV owners with SCH). This will allow folks to travel clear across the world's 2nd largest country with zero emissions and for for no cost before year end.

  13. In the past couple of years, Tesla Motors has been the darling of the press despite their electric vehicles being too expensive to everyone that isn't really rich. Their eco-conscious yuppie consumers are being done a favor, though, as the company has revealed the Tesla Supercharger system, a chain of solar-powered charging stations for Tesla owners. New installations have just been exposed on the East Coast. Now, any person can get an auto bad credit loan for an electric car.

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