Tesla has changed the terms of free supercharging use several times. Initially, the Supercharger network was made available to vehicle buyers free of charge. This was a measure in the early years to encourage the sale of the less common Tesla vehicles.
For the purchase of a Tesla used car, this free charging option can be an important purchase argument on long distances. Over the years the conditions for Supercharger use have changed several times.
This article explains which Tesla vehicles have the free supercharging use included
Tesla started to design fast charging stations already in 2012. And also the first Model S were allowed to use the supercharger network free of charge for “lifetime of the vehicle”. The free Supercharger usage is still transferred to the new owner when the vehicle is sold. This also applies to the Model X, which was delivered to customers from September 2015.
This regulation with the free Supercharger “Lifetime” use was maintained until the beginning of 2017 and applies to all Model S and Model X ordered BEFORE 15 January 2017. You can read on some websites that vehicles with a “delivery date until April or May” have free Supercharger use. But this is not correct. The decisive detail is the order date of the vehicle, which must be before 15 January 2017. The delivery date of the vehicle is not relevant.
For Model S and Model X orders as of January 15, 2017, the following regulation applied
Each year the customer received a supercharger credit of 400 kWh of electricity provided free of charge. This was sufficient for about 1600 electrically driven kilometers. However, the quota was not transferable to a subsequent year.
Most customers did not choose this option anyway. Instead, when ordering a vehicle, they provided a code from the Tesla referral program. Tesla owners were able to pass on this code to new customers and thus it was still possible to order a vehicle with free Supercharger use. However, for orders placed after 15 January 2017, the free use was only valid for the first owner of the vehicle. As soon as the vehicle was resold, the 400 kWh credit regulation applied to the new owner.
From 18.9.2018 the system changed again
Anyone who had ordered a new Tesla vehicle from this date onwards could no longer receive free supercharging use, even with the code from the recommendation 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 Performance Model 3 was sold in the USA with free supercharger use. Tesla probably used this measure to boost Model 3 sales. However, even this supercharger usage is not transferable when one of these early Performance Model 3s is sold to a new owner.
Anyone who ordered a vehicle after 18.9.2018 without a referral program code will have to pay supercharger fees from the first charge. The costs vary from country to country. As a rule, charges are made per kWh. In some countries, however, it is also charged per minute.
Update from March 2019
By entering a referral program code when ordering a vehicle, 1500 km of free Supercharger use was granted for all vehicle Orders.
Update from July 2019
Tesla has removed the free Supercharging option from its used inventory vehicles. The affected vehicles are actually old enough so that free Supercharger should be transferred to the new owner. Presumably Tesla has removed this option from the vehicles they own for cost reasons. In addition, comments from owners who have bought a vehicle from a non-Tesla dealer are accumulating. Apparently there are cases where the free supercharging was also removed when the car was transferred.
Update from 3.8.2019
From now on new Model S and Model X can be ordered again with free Supercharger (not transferrable if you sell the car).
Update of 28 May 2020
The free Supercharging is no longer available for new Model S and Model X cars. All new car orders can be ordered with 1500 km of free Supercharger use by entering a referral program code.
How does the Tesla Supercharging cost accounting work?
Charging on the Supercharger couldn’t be easier. You just plug the charging cable into the car and everything else happens automatically. The charging station automatically recognises which vehicle it is and debits the costs correctly. You can make a one-time payment via your Tesla touch screen after each supercharger use or set up an automatic debit payment method on your Tesla account. For customers with free Supercharger use, no costs are charged.
Conclusion: Free Supercharging when buying a pre-owned Tesla
So if you want free Supercharging for a pre-owned Tesla car, you have to look for a Model S or Model X with an original ORDER DATE before 15 January 2017. To be on the safe side, the current owner of the vehicle can check his Tesla.com user profile to see what Supercharger conditions his vehicle is subject to. Of course, a call to Tesla Support is also sufficient. By telling the VIN number of the vehicle they can find out the data.
With the no longer sold Model S 60 free supercharging could be bought as an option for 2400 EUR.