Tesla intros idle fee to discourage Supercharger hogs

Tesla's new mantra? Charge or get off the pot.

Smith Collection/Gado, Getty Images

Electric vehicle chargers are becoming increasingly commonplace. That's good news for current and would-be owners of electric cars. However, a charger is only useful if you can actually park your car next to it. To help maximize the availability of its own Superchargers, Tesla's introducing a new, $0.40 per-minute charge for anyone who leaves their car sitting there after it has completed charging.

Tesla's Supercharger network, which now stretches coast-to-coast and has achieved surprising penetration into even rural US, allows current Model S owners to quickly re-charge their cars completely for free. In just about 20 minutes a car can get a 50-percent charge, or get a full charge after slightly over an hour.

However, many people plug their cars in and go shopping, see a movie or, indeed, have a friend pick them up and go somewhere else. This leaves a charger occupied for much longer than is strictly necessary.

"We envision a future where cars move themselves once fully charged, enhancing network efficiency and the customer experience even further," Tesla's statement today says. "Until then, we ask that vehicles be moved from the Supercharger once fully charged. A customer would never leave a car parked by the pump at a gas station and the same thinking applies with Superchargers."

The so-called "idle fee" will be $0.40 per minute, but if the car is moved within five minutes of the charge completing, that fee will be waived.The Tesla app will give you real-time status updates and keep you from going broke -- just don't turn your phone off before running into that Star Wars marathon.

Additionally, Elon Musk tweeted to say "We are going to modify this [policy] so that people only pay a fee if most bays are occupied. If the site is basically deserted, no problem to park."

Oh, and if you need additional help in not being a jerk at the EV charger of your choice, don't worry: we've got you covered.

Update: This article has been updated to reflect Elon Musk's statement to indicate that this fee will only be charged if the other chargers at the given Supercharger location are full.

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