Model S owner and French entrepreneur, Loic Le Meur, reached out to Elon Musk on Twitter yesterday to bring to light something Tesla and its driver have been struggling to curtail – Supercharger abuse. In this particular instance, Le Meur reports abuse taking place at the popular San Mateo Supercharger station in Silicon Valley, which apparently has become home to an increasing number of Tesla owners that use Supercharger stalls as parking spaces, without charging.
Musk quickly replied back with acknowledgement of the growing “issue”, further adding that Tesla “will take action”.
@loic You're right, this is becoming an issue. Supercharger spots are meant for charging, not parking. Will take action.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 11, 2016
California has more electric cars than any other US state with Silicon Valley leading the way in terms of EV density. According to the Center for Sustainable Energy, 7 out of every 1000 cars registered in the tech. hub area are electric so it’s not surprising the often crowded Supercharger facility in San Mateo is heavily utilized.
What can Tesla do about Supercharger abuse?
What sort of action might Elon have in mind? Tesla could begin with friendly persuasion, a tactic the company adopted 18 months ago when it sent an e-mail to Model S owners identified by the company as abusing their Supercharger privileges. “The Supercharger Network’s intent remains to expand and enhance your long distance travel while providing the flexibility for occasional needed use during local trips. Our goal is to provide the best charging experience, keeping charge times low to get you back on the road as quickly as possible. As a frequent user of local Superchargers, we ask that you decrease your local Supercharging and promptly move your Model S once charging is complete….”
In June, Electric Jen proposed five strategies for alleviating Supercharger congestion, including dedicated express chargers with clear time limits, valet services, publishing peak usage times so people could plan their charging times more efficiently, upgrading the Tesla in-car navigation program to notify others when a car is waiting to charge, or simply building more Superchargers. With regard to that last point, Tesla is aggressively adding to the number of Supercharger locations both in the US and around the world as it prepares for the the time when production of the Model 3 begins.
Tesla has already begun staffing valet attendants at the busy San Mateo Supercharger during known busy travel weekends. They enforce a 30-minute stay time while charging. Though this approach isn’t necessarily scalable, the company can just as easily enforce a time limit for free charging. After 30-minutes of being plugged in or once the vehicle has reached a 90-100% state of charge, the vehicle owner would incur a time-based or flat rate fee.
Being billed for Supercharger use via ‘credits’ is something that the company is already planning for and could extend to preventing Supercharger abuse. “For Teslas ordered after January 1, 2017, 400 kWh of free Supercharging credits (roughly 1,000 miles) will be included annually so that all owners can continue to enjoy free Supercharging during travel. Beyond that, there will be a small fee to Supercharge which will be charged incrementally and cost less than the price of filling up a comparable gas car. All cars will continue to come standard with the onboard hardware required for Supercharging.”, said Tesla through its blog post.
Also, as Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Capability begins to take shape, the company could automatically disconnect any car that has more than a 90% charge using its automated snake-bot charging system and have the vehicle drive itself to an open parking space.
While we wait on Tesla to come up with a means to deter Supercharger abuse, we’re making this open call to all existing abusers: Don’t be an EVhole and ruin it for the rest of us.