During a conference call with shareholders earlier this week, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, was asked how the company would cope with a wave of new vehicles at its Supercharger stations once deliveries of the Model 3 begin.
"Obviously, [the Supercharger network] fundamentally has a cost," Musk replied. "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. I wish we could, but in order to achieve the economics, it has to be something like that."
When it goes on sale, the Model 3 will have a range of around 320km and will be priced from US$35,000 ($48,700). That's significantly cheaper than the larger Model S that starts at US$71,500 ($99,500) for 70kWh rear-wheel-drive model, which has a stated range of 377km.
In his response, the outspoken CEO does seem to leave open the option of offering free Supercharger access to Model 3 owners on a trial basis.
Above: Tesla Supercharger in Port Macquarie, New South Wales.
Later in the call, Musk stated that its best to charge electric vehicles at the same location you'd charge your smartphone.
"Driving to a Supercharger in order to get five dollars worth of electricity and spending half an hour of your time, you’re like, maybe barely at minimum wage," Musk said.
Currently the Supercharger rapid charging network is free to use for all owners of the Tesla Model S sedan and Model X crossover, but that wasn't always the case. For a while, owners of the base model Model S had to pony up around US$2500 ($3500) to access the system.
The Tesla Model 3 is slated to go into limited production in 2017. Full scale production isn't projected to begin until 2018, around the time the company's ambitious battery Gigafactory comes online.
An Australian launch isn't likely until 2018, at the earliest.
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