Tesla Model S at Supercharger site in Ventura, CA, with just one slot open [photo: David Noland]
Tesla has bestowed upon its current owners a sought-after perk previously reserved for early adopters: free Supercharging.
Last year, Tesla announced it would begin charging for Supercharger station use for buyers of its electric cars after a certain date—but now it appears to have walked back that policy.
Instead, it has extended free Supercharger use to all current owners: even if a Tesla was purchased after the original cut-off date, free Supercharging will now be included, likely to the delight of many owners.
Free Supercharger station use supersedes the original plan to allot 1,000 miles of free charging to owners who ordered their Teslas after January 15, 2017.
After that 1,000 miles, Tesla's self-described "small fee" for a Supercharger session was said to have been cheaper than topping off a comparable luxury vehicle with gasoline.
There remains a catch to the new free Supercharger station use, however: first-time buyers are not eligible for the perk, according to Electrek.
Tesla Supercharger site in Newburgh, New York, up and running - June 2015
Current Tesla owners enrolled in the free charging program can, however, extend the perk to first-time buyers through a referral program.
Tesla will let its current owners refer up to five potential buyers; should they purchase a new Tesla, they too will receive free Supercharging.
As is traditional under the Tesla referral program, they will also receive a $1,000 credit towards the vehicle itself.
Current owners can also take solace knowing their free Supercharging will transfer to a new Tesla vehicle as well—though Tesla later clarified that this offer applies only to new Teslas purchased by December 31, 2017.
2017 Tesla Model X
That means trading in an older Model S for a new Model S or Model X before the end of the year will still net an owner the perk.
It should also theoretically apply to any Model 3 vehicles delivered by the end of the year to current Tesla owners.
Furthermore, free Supercharging follows a particular vehicle, not the driver.
If a Tesla with free Supercharging is sold by its first owner, that allowance transfers to the new owner.
That should keep the value of older Model S and Model X models up somewhat once they become used cars.
2017 Tesla Model S
When Tesla began to offer free Supercharging station use, the availability of free DC fast-charging for longer trips soon became a valuable incentive for buyers.
Tesla's Supercharger network is by far the most mature and pervasive among all three fast-charging standards in the United States.
Nearly every single one of the 50 states houses a Tesla Supercharger site these days.
Of course, the network makes it much easier to travel long distances in roughly 200-mile incremeents; competing cars simply don't offer that same capability.
Tesla Supercharger network, North American coverage map, Feb 2017 [graphic: Isaac Bowser]
Earlier this year, Tesla slimmed down its Model S lineup by ending sale of the 60 and 60D models.
The move likely makes room for the upcoming Model 3, which the company says will enter production this summer.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was originally published on May 24, 2017; in mid-June, Tesla further changed its policy to add a December 31 deadline before which current Tesla owners can buy a new vehicle and receive free Supercharging. We've updated the article accordingly.