The Presidential election result isn’t the only unexpected news to come out of America this week - When the US car maker Tesla launched its Model S electric car, they promised owners they’d have unlimited use of their supercharging network for free for life.
This meant one could drive anywhere in the world without paying a penny for fuel so long as there was a supercharger within the car’s range. The network’s continued to grow, but so has Tesla ownership.
With deliveries of the new Model 3 due to start next year, it appears the company’s worried demand for charging points might outstrip supply and so from January the 1st, any one ordering a car will have to pay to use a Supercharger. Final details of the costs haven’t been announced yet, but the company says it’ll be less than the cost of a tank of petrol or diesel. New owners from that date will get 400kwh of credits each year, but that’s only equivalent to about 1000 miles of electricity.
It seems the biggest demand on the company’s charging network globally has come from those refusing to charge their cars at home at their own expense and choosing instead to leave their cars blocking free Supercharging points whilst they go to work or go shopping.
Predictably some Tesla owners are up in arms, just as those who were hogging Ecotricity’s UK network of motorway rapid chargers were when they started to charge for usage earlier this year.
But big changes have already passed the horizon and are now firmly in view - The distance all new electric cars are able to drive between charges has taken a giant leap this year - The new Renault Zoe that’s just gone on sale this month has almost doubled its range to around 200 miles. Driven’s own long term test car, the 2017 BMW i3 has seen an increase from around 100 to 160 miles and next year Tesla themselves will start building cars capable of 300+ miles - This is way beyond the distance most of us drive in one shot, or even in one day, so charging at home or at the office less than once a day will become the norm.
That'll give most of us more than the amount of electrons we need and so the rapid charging network will be released to those few of us who venture further.