Tesla Motors announced Tuesday it will likely charge Model 3 owners to use its vast array of charging stations, most of which are free for other customers.
“Free Supercharging fundamentally has a cost,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk said Tuesday during the company’s annual shareholders meeting. “The obvious thing to do is decouple that from the cost of the Model 3. So it will still be very cheap, and far cheaper than gasoline, to drive long-distance with the Model 3, but it will not be free long distance for life unless you purchase that package.”
The techno-guru did not flesh out details about what Model 3 owners should expect to pay.
Meanwhile, customers who own the company’s Model S and Model X are allowed free access to Tesla’s 632 Supercharging stations across the world. The charging stations give customers about 170 miles of range in 30 minutes, according to the company’s website.
Musk went on to implore owners to charge their vehicles at home and at work, where charging is largely free. Tesla is concerned owners are taking advantage of the charging stations and using them out of habit.
There have been 373,000 pre-orders for the Model 3, which will be priced at $35,000, many of them made by people who plopped down $1,000 deposits for the promise of a fully electric car. Model 3 has not started production since Tesla unveiled in April the reasonably priced sedan.
Many critics suggest the Model 3 could prove to be Tesla’s death knell.
The company is bleeding cash over the last year trying to ramp up Model X production and develop the Model 3. In fact, as of the end of last year, Tesla was scraping by on the last of its $1 billion in cash. The burn rate, critics argue, is way too high to survive until 2018, when the company claims it will be able to produce all 373,000 model 3s.
Tesla delved into highly complex, exotic financial instruments to raise the capital necessary to build the Model 3. These techniques have turned the massive electric vehicle maker into a type of “pyramid scheme,” according to Devonshire Research Group, an investment firm that values and devalues technology companies.
“Tesla’s financing model is fragile; it is attempting to manage multiple financial instrument models under the same accounting umbrella — to our knowledge, one of the last companies to attempt this level of financial innovation was Enron,” a Devonshire Research Group report states. One minor “misstep in the next two years,” the group adds, “risks entering a death spiral.”
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