Free Supercharging for Life? Tesla Says ‘No More’

September 17, 2018, 1:46 PM UTC

Tesla is cutting the cord on free supercharging for life.

When you buy a new Tesla Model S, Model X, or Model 3, you’ll no longer be given the option of free supercharging for life. Instead, Tesla has announced a new referral program that will give $100 in Supercharging credit to new buyers.

Tesla has been offering a deal on Supercharging for years. In order to qualify for it, you’d need to buy a new Tesla (TSLA) and order the vehicle with a referral code from someone who already owned a Tesla. Doing so meant you could go to Tesla’s Supercharging stations around town and boost your car’s battery life at no charge.

Now, though, the referrals will only net you $100 in Supercharging credit. And while that’s nothing to scoff at (it should give you a few fill-ups), it’s nothing like the offer Tesla had before.

From a business perspective, however, the move might be a smart one for Tesla. The company has essentially been handing away revenue to its customers for years. And now, with trouble in the business and fears over its future, Tesla appears to be in a cost-cutting and revenue-generating mode.

Exactly what the move might mean for Tesla’s bottom line is difficult to determine. But auto news site Electrek, which earlier reported on Tesla’s latest move, recently found that the company’s Supercharger network has delivered 400GWh of charge to its vehicles. Given Tesla’s mix of pricing, it’s possible it could have made between $50 million and $100 million on the sale of all of that energy if it didn’t have free Supercharging available, according to the report.