Yes, a "marketing expense" it was, and a brilliant one at that. By making SCs "free" and encouraging long-distance driving, Tesla also controlled the message in the media - rather than having to read endless pieces comparing the price of Supercharging with gasoline, we've instead seen stories, posts, etc. that focus primarily on the utility of the SC network.dgpcolorado wrote:No, it was in part a marketing expense (some car companies actually spend gigantic amounts of money on advertising instead — I think Tesla's marketing expenditures are much more useful). The idea was to change the perception of EVs as limited range local commuter cars, which it did: the Supercharger network was a paradigm shift in EV utility.edatoakrun wrote:From its inception, "free...forever" has been structured as a pyramid scheme.
Even after the "3" ships in volume and there's a pay-per-use model for the SCs for most cars, I anticipate that Tesla may continue to subsidize its SC locations for a while, in order to keep charging costs below gasoline as Elon Musk promised. This seems most likely to be needed in places like California where real estate is expensive and electric utility demand charges are substantial, as well as in remote areas where the SCs see relatively little use yet still need to be maintained.
While putting an appropriate price on carbon would decrease this burden for Tesla (and other quick-charge network operators), the cost of the SC network should remain within reason when viewed as a marketing expense. Long term costs should also drop as Tesla installs more solar PV and battery storage at SC sites.