2013 Tesla Model S at Supercharger station on NY-to-FL road trip [photo: David Noland]Enlarge Photo
Last Friday night, I arranged to meet my wife for dinner in Newburgh, New York, at a restaurant that has a Tesla Supercharger.
Even though the battery in my Model S 85 was about 60 percent full, I figured I might as well top it off to 90 percent while we ate. When I arrived, there was a white Model X already plugged in.
That left five empty spaces—fairly typical for this particular Supercharger, which I’ve been watching and occasionally using for the past 18 months.
After an hour or so, belly full, I came out of the restaurant to see that the Model X had left, leaving me the only Supercharger occupant. I unplugged, drove off, and didn’t give it a second thought.
But it turns out that I had violated a new Tesla policy announced (by press release) earlier that day.
As a result, it looked like I might have about $12 added to my bill in a couple of weeks when I show up at the service center in Paramus, New Jersey, for my 12,000-mile service.
Tesla Model S at Supercharger site in Ventura, CA, with just one slot open [photo: David Noland]Enlarge Photo
My crime? Staying plugged in after charging had finished.
It took only about 30 minutes to top off my battery, but my car had remained in the Supercharger stall for about half an hour more after charging was completed.
According to Tesla’s new policy, the owner of any Tesla that remains plugged in for more than five minutes after charging is completed will be assessed an “idle fee” of 40 cents per minute—or $24 per hour.
The fee will be collected the next time the owner appears for service at a Tesla service center.
[SPOILER ALERT: This part isn't exactly true ... except in circumstances when it is. Keep reading.]
Tesla Supercharger site with photovoltaic solar panels, Rocklin, California, Feb 2015
Tesla Supercharger site with photovoltaic solar panels, Rocklin, California, Feb 2015Enlarge Photo
The new policy is the result of overcrowding at several Supercharger sites in California that have proved too popular, and now sometimes have lines of drivers waiting for a space to open up so they can charge.
Last week, an annoyed Tesla owner tweeted to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, “the San Mateo Supercharger is always full with idiots who leave their Tesla for hours even if already charged.”
“You’re right, this is becoming an issue," Musk replied. "Supercharger spots are meant for charging, not parking. Will take action.”
And take action he did, in less than a week.
Other aggrieved owners chimed into the Twitter thread. “Same situation exists in Mountain View. My last three visits ended w/leaving in frustration, only to limp to a Chargepoint.”
Others complained that a commercial car service, Tesloop, has left its cars plugged in overnight at various Superchargers in Southern California.
Clearly, something needed to be done at these California Superchargers. Itinerant drivers who need to charge should not be blocked by full-charged cars still sitting there waiting for their owners to return and unplug them.
The $24-per-hour idle fee should certainly get the attention of the “idiots” who needlessly clog these already crowded stations.