Does your Tesla include free supercharging?
Tesla has changed the terms of free Supercharger usage several times. Initially, the Supercharger network was made available free of charge to all vehicle buyers. This was a measure to promote the sale of Tesla vehicles in the early years. For the purchase of a Tesla used car, this free charging option can be an important purchase argument for long-distance drivers. Over the years the conditions for free Tesla supercharging have changed several times. Therefore, it is not so easy to find out which used vehicles still have Tesla Supercharger included for free.
Which vehicles have Tesla “Lifetime” Supercharging free of charge?
Tesla began to build a network of Supercharger fast charging stations in 2012. And already the first Model S were allowed to use the Supercharger network free of charge for “Lifetime of the vehicle”. The free Supercharger use is still transferred to the new owner when these vehicles are sold privately. This also applies to the older Model X, which were delivered to customers from September 2015.
This regulation with the free Supercharger “Lifetime” use was maintained until the beginning of 2017 for new cars and applies to all Model S and Model X ordered BEFORE January 15, 2017. You can read on some websites that vehicles with a “delivery date until April or May 2017” have free Supercharger use. But the delivery date is not relevant. The decisive detail is the order date of the vehicle, which must be before January 15, 2017.
For Model S and Model X orders placed after January 15, 2017, the following regulation applied
Each year the customer received a supercharger credit of 400 kWh of electricity free of charge. This was enough for about 1000 electrically driven miles. However, the quota was not transferable to a subsequent year.
Most customers did not choose this option anyway. Instead, they used a code from the Tesla recommendation program when ordering a vehicle. Tesla owners could use this code to refer new customers and thus continue to order a vehicle with free supercharger use. For orders placed after January 15, 2017, the free use was only valid for the first owner of the vehicle.
Model S and Model X from this period still have free Supercharger use, provided they still belong to the first owner. However, when the vehicle is sold, it loses the free Supercharger option.
Regulation for new cars from 9/18/2018
Anyone who ordered a new vehicle since that date could no longer receive free Supercharger use even with the code from the referral program. Instead, on recommendation you only received 6 months of free Supercharger use once. The only exception for the Model 3 was a short period of about 3 months when the Model 3 Performance was sold in the USA with free Supercharger use. Tesla probably used this measure to boost Model 3 sales. However, even this supercharger use is not transferable when one of these first Model 3 vehicles is sold.
From March 2019, the system has been changed so that only 1000 miles of free Supercharger use will be granted if a code from the Tesla referral program is used when ordering the vehicle. This credit expires after 12 months. This program ended in September 2021.
Used cars from Tesla
Tesla is removing the free Supercharger option from its used inventory vehicles. The affected vehicles are actually old enough that “Lifetime” free Supercharger should be transferred to the new owner, but this is no longer the case with Tesla used vehicles. Tesla will remove the Supercharger if the vehicle is owned by Tesla at any time during the change of ownership. So if an owner sells his Lifetime Supercharger vehicle to Tesla, the option is removed. If the owner sells directly to a buyer privately, the option is retained.
This is particularly critical when a car dealer buys a used vehicle directly from Tesla. These vehicles all do not have a Lifetime Supercharger.
No rule universally
Tesla uses the free supercharging from time to time to boost vehicle sales towards the end of the quarter. As a result, there have been situations in the past where it was possible to get a new car with free supercharging even after September 2018. For example, for the new Tesla Raven Model S and Model X the supercharger feature is again available for free. But even with all these vehicles, the option expires on resale.
Who would like to have thus a used car with free Supercharger, must look for compellingly a vehicle that:
- Never as used car in the possession of Tesla was.
- Was ordered as a new car before 15 January 2017.
- Is a Model S or Model X.
Previously, the current owner of the vehicle could see in his or her user profile on Tesla.com which supercharger conditions the vehicle is subject to. Meanwhile Tesla seems to have changed this. The profile only mentions “free supercharger use” and no longer whether it is transferable. In case of doubt only the Tesla support will help for a clear clarification. If the VIN number of the vehicle is given, the support can determine the supercharger status.
Another special case: When the model S 60 was no longer sold, free Supercharging could be purchased as an option for about 2000 USD. So, there are maybe older S60 Model S without free Supercharger around.
How does the Supercharger cost accounting work?
Charging at the Supercharger couldn’t be easier. You just plug the charging cable into the car and everything else happens automatically. The charging station automatically recognizes which vehicle it is and debits the costs correctly. You can make a one-time payment on the Tesla touch screen after each use of the Supercharger or you can set up a payment method on your Tesla account for automatic debiting. Tesla Cars with free Supercharging will not be charged any costs.