A Tesla Model 3 owner from China received a supercharging bill of $608,708 (3,846,306 CNY). This came as quite a shock for the owner. The explanation was that it was a supercharger idle fee. But the owner was surprised since he had some free supercharging credits.
Supercharging comes with a super cost
Supercharging is one of the main things that has set Tesla apart from its competition. The wide network of fast charging stations makes life easier for owners. Range anxiety becomes less of an issue with the comfort of knowing that the network has your back on long trips. It was free till 2020. However, Tesla has charged an amount for owners to charge their cars. Cars purchased before 2017 still qualify for free supercharging.
For cars produced after 2017, the cost of supercharging is $0.25 KW. It takes between 7.2 KW to 11.5 KW to charge a Tesla depending on the model. So one can expect a charge between $2-$3 for charging a Tesla via the supercharging network. This is quite reasonable.
The Idle time charges
Due to the low cost of charging a Tesla using the supercharging network, it is common for owners to prefer using the network. After all, it is much faster than charging at your home or office. It makes even more sense if the supercharger is located at a location that is close enough to your home or office. This could lead to certain vehicles remaining plugged well after they are fully charged. The safety features that deny a person from unplugging a vehicle without the key become a problem in this case.
To curb hogging of the Superchargers, Tesla came up with the idle time charge. It is a system that charges the owner of the car that remains plugged in after it is fully charged. The “fine” is $0.50 per minute. This number goes up to $1 per minute if the Supercharging station is at full capacity. It is the same figure in Europe except it is in Euros. In China, the same fines are 3.20 CNY ($0.50) and 6.40 CNY ($1).
What happened here?
The owner of this Model 3 received a shock after charging his car (pun unintended). After all, he had sufficient free Supercharging credit. However, the owner immediately acted and uploaded a screenshot of his app showing the amount. It was traced down to a bug in the system that caused this. A rectification was made and the problem was solved. The bug existed in the backend systems of the Supercharging network. The amount that the owner was charged for the charging of his car is sufficient to charge 32,000 Model 3s.
Can this happen again?
Hopefully, no. It seems like a very strange and one-off incident that likely won’t repeat. However, it is a puzzling thing to happen. Especially to someone who had free Supercharging credit. And on the off chance that this does happen to you. Do not panic, such things are generally caused by bugs and can be rectified if the proper people are informed.