Owner suing Tesla over Supercharger fees: Is idle time part of free charging?

A Tesla owner is suing the automaker over fees at Supercharger DC fast-charging stations, Bloomberg reported Thursday. Kevin Shenkman sued Tesla in California state court, claiming the automaker broke a promise to early owners to provide free charging for life by imposing fees for leaving cars idle at Supercharger stations. He’s seeking to represent all […]

A Tesla owner is suing the automaker over fees at Supercharger DC fast-charging stations, Bloomberg reported Thursday.

Kevin Shenkman sued Tesla in California state court, claiming the automaker broke a promise to early owners to provide free charging for life by imposing fees for leaving cars idle at Supercharger stations. He’s seeking to represent all early Tesla owners to recover costs, as well as punitive damages, and to stop Tesla from imposing idle fees, according to the report.

When the Tesla Model S launched, the automaker promised free Supercharging for life. The automaker stopped offering free charging as sales picked up and charging sites became congested. Free Supercharging ended for new customers in 2017, but cars sold between 2012 and 2016 were exempt.

Tesla Supercharger V3 station - Las Vegas Strip

Tesla Supercharger V3 station – Las Vegas Strip

In 2016, Tesla also imposed extra fees on customers who didn’t move their cars shortly after they were done charging. These fees apply to early adopters who were promised free Supercharging for life, and Tesla will disable Supercharger access if owners don’t pay them, Shenkman said in the complaint.

Charging for idle time is common practice among all charging networks. Electrify America, for example, charges an idle fee of $0.40 a minute after a 10-minute grace period.

Electrify America DC fast-chargers

Electrify America DC fast-chargers

A serious problem for charging access, for years, has been vehicles using charging spaces as parking spaces. Network operators can’t do much about random people blocking charging stations, but they can at least nudge their own users with idle fees.

Tesla has revamped Supercharger pricing and offerings over the years, sometimes including it—most recently with the Model S and X—but Tesla has been flexible in the past and had limited those fees to cars that were more than 50% charged after their session.

Does free charging also include free parking? Is obstructing access also part of the deal? Please leave your comments below.