Electric car maker Tesla will charge its owners to 'fill up' at its own high-speed charging bays from January next year, in a scheme that will be applied to cars sold from January 1 next year.
The plan, which will scoop up potential owners of both the forthcoming Model X SUV and the smaller Model 3, offers new owners a credit of 400 kilowatt-hours per year, which Tesla says is equivalent to about 1600km of range.
After the allocation is exhausted, Tesla said a "small fee" will be applied to use a Supercharger. No details on pricing were revealed, but in a blog post Tesla said that the costs would fluctuate over time and vary depending on the region's cost of electricity.
The sheer number of potential Model 3 sales means that providing free 'fuel' would become a debilitating cost to the company and force the price of the car up.
"Our Supercharger Network will never be a profit center (sic)," the statement read. Tesla's Australian office confirmed that the plan is global, and will be rolled out here next year.
Introduced four years ago, Tesla founder Elon Musk said that the Supercharging Network would be "free for life" for Tesla owners. However, the sheer number of potential Model 3 sales – more than 370,000 people have already placed a $1500 deposit for the hatchback-sized EV – means that providing free 'fuel' would become a debilitating cost to the company and force the price of the car up.
A ten-fold increase of vehicles would also place pressure on the relatively small number of supercharging stations currently in existence.
The theory behind the move can be likened to mobile phone users tapping into a WiFi network while at home or work to save mobile data for when it's needed most.
Likewise, owners of electric vehicles will do most of their charging at home or at work, while the Supercharging network is designed to facilitate longer trips.
Currently, owners of the Model S can access Tesla's supercharger network that stretches from Sydney to Melbourne, with an eight-bay station at Goulburn and a six-bay chargers at Wodonga and Gundagai.
The Supercharger stations run at a maximum of 120 volts, and can add 270km of range to the car in 30 minutes using the car's own charging cable.
An additional stand-alone supercharger is located in Euroa, near the Victorian town of Benalla, while Tesla's St Lenoards, Sydney and Richmond, Melbourne dealerships also offer supercharging facilities.
The Supercharger stations run at a maximum of 400 volts, and can add 270km of range to the car in 30 minutes.
Up to eighty per cent of battery capacity can be added in 40 minutes, but topping it off will take an hour and fifteen minutes, as the charge must be slowed to safely top off the battery.