Tesla Motors Inc is set to usher in a few changes to the economics of its Supercharger Network. This Sunday marks the last official day for any new Tesla buyer to gain free and unlimited access to the firm’s worldwide, public charging stations. Anyone who purchases the company’s luxury electric cars from Monday the 16th onward, will form part of a slightly less privileged class of Tesla owners. In essence, these new buyers will be given a limited amount of free public Supercharging a year. Once this allotment has been used, owners will have to pay for any use beyond that.
Today, LearnBonds takes a look at one of the assurances made by Tesla. Back in November, the company consoled its incoming driver base with a promise never use the new Supercharger fees for profit. However, new reports suggest that this may be somewhat of a stretch. Tesla recently released some info on the supercharging fees for Model S and Model X drivers, which will take effect after January 15th. From this report, the likes of Trip Chowdhry of Global Equities Research believes the company could derive a significant amount of revenue and profit from the incoming class of new Tesla owners.
Tesla Supercharger Changes
Those who decide to order a Tesla after the new year has set in will find themselves less privileged than the existing Tesla community. These new owners will only be entitled to 400 kWh of free Supercharging per year. This equates to around 1,000 miles of free juice. After that has been used up, the new batch of Tesla drivers will be subject to light fee for charging their cars. According to the company, the cost will be reasonable and considerably less than filling up a gas-fueled car.
CEO Elon Musk has said before that he believes public charging is not an effective way to juice up your Tesla. The chief exec tends to use his well-known cellphone analogy to drive the idea home. Where is the real benefit in owning a cellphone if you have to go to the store every time they need to charge it? Since your car is an item that is equally as personal, fueling it should be something that is more in the control of its owner.
So, in a bid to encourage the adoption of home charging stations and turn public Superchargers to a contingency plan, a change to the Supercharger Program had to be introduced. Although, that does mean that incoming buyers who regularly travel long distances will be paying to refuel. This might be a downer for anyone who had been relying on the standard, lifetime, free Supercharging.
Tesla breaking its promise?
However, Tesla did make one assurance in regarding this public. “[W]hile prices may fluctuate over time and very regionally based on the cost of electricity, our Supercharger Network will never be a profit center.”
So what is Chowdhry on about? The analyst basically states that Tesla will pull in over $2.6 billion in from Superchargers fees by 2020. This is based on a cost of $0.16 cost per minute, derived from the assumption that Tesla Motors will have sold 5 million cars between now and the end of 2020. The figure also account for everyday use of Superchargers for a least thirty minutes.
Spotted calculation kinks
Chowdry’s calculations are correct but some items included seem slightly exaggerated. The clear one being that every new Tesla owner will charge their car at a public Supercharger station for an averaged thirty minutes a day, every day of the year. Does the average Tesla owner use public chargers for more than a 182 hour year? Many Tesla owners, if not the majority, will be in possession of home chargers. Relying on public Superchargers is simply in efficient, hence the reason for this change in the first place.
The analyst also appears to have left out Tesla’s cost to purchase some of the electricity used, despite much of it set to be derived from solar energy. Regardless, there are still a lot of costs which will need to be covered in terms of actually setting up the numerous Powerwall storage units and supercharger location to align with his figures.
Lastly, Tesla has made several statements depicting the non-profit nature of its new Supercharger fees. It looks as though Chowdhry is simply overlooking these claims in hopes of catching the world’s leading EV maker out in a massive lie, which is unlikely, but hey…