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Tesla will begin charging drivers for access to its Supercharger fast charging network from next year, although this change will only affect cars ordered from January 1, 2017 onwards.

The electric car company says that today’s announcement about the Supercharger network will not affect Tesla vehicles ordered before the beginning of 2017, so long as delivery is taken before April 1, 2017.

In April of this year, Tesla’s outspoken CEO, Elon Musk, confirmed that buyers of the Model 3 would have to pay to use the company’s fast charging network. Now, it has been confirmed that buyers of the more expensive Model S and Model X will also have to pay.

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For all affected vehicles, the company will include 400kWh worth of free Supercharging credits per year, which should be good for roughly 1600 kilometres of driving.

At the moment, Tesla isn’t saying how much it will charge for access to the Supercharger network; further details are due to be released later this year.

It notes that “prices may fluctuate over time and vary regionally based on the cost of electricity”, and that the “small fee to Supercharge which will be charged incrementally and cost less than the price of filling up a comparable gas car”.

According to Tesla, the change will it “to reinvest in the network, accelerate its growth and bring all owners, current and future, the best Supercharging experience”. The startup automaker also promised that the Supercharger network “will never be a profit center”.

All new vehicles from the manufacturer will continue to have Supercharger compatible charging equipment included as standard.

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Above: Tesla Model S.

Tesla has taken this move as it production of the Model 3 draws closer. Priced to be competitive against the BMW 3 Series, the Model 3 will have starting price in the States of US$35,000, and will enter limited production around the middle of 2017.

Earlier in the year, Musk stated that the Supercharger network “fundamentally has a cost” and that although he would love for all owners to have free charging access, to “achieve the economics” for the cheaper Model 3 “the obvious thing to do is decouple that from the cost” of the car.

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