Free Supercharging is one of Tesla's most well-known bonuses, and it's a program that has influenced many people to consider Tesla as a feasible road trip alternative. Tesla's Free Supercharging (formerly Unlimited Free Supercharging) helped put the real-world cost of owning a Tesla more attractive about an EV purchase, especially when combined with government EV incentives.
Background to Free Tesla Supercharging
Tesla began offering Free Unlimited Supercharging on the Model S with the introduction of the first location of the Supercharger network in 2012 as an added incentive for long-range travel. This benefit was also extended to the Model X, and Tesla has offered Free Unlimited Supercharging and Free (limited) Supercharging on various occasions over the years.
Free Unlimited Supercharging on the Model S has gone through several changes over the years. Soon after the supercharger was introduced, Tesla revealed that the 60 kWh Model S was in fact equipped with the components necessary to make Supercharging possible. Through a series of unclear communications, Tesla ended up giving Free Unlimited Supercharging to buyers of the Model S 60.
With one significant exception: the Model S 40, practically every Model S has had some type of Unlimited Free Supercharging since that time and till 2020. The Model S 40 was never given Supercharging capability, even though it was technically a software-limited Model S 60, unless the user wanted to upgrade the vehicle to a 60 kWh version (by paying for a software unlock of the battery pack capacity). As a result, unlike the first Tesla Roadster, none of the current Model S 40 Teslas have Free Supercharging or any Supercharging at all.
In March of 2017, Tesla eliminated fully transferrable Free Unlimited Supercharging from their options, while subsequent promotions have provided non-transferable Free Unlimited Supercharging to a small number of owners through referrals and other means. Then, in May 2020, Tesla took down any references to Free Unlimited Supercharging.
For a limited period in 2018-2019, the Model 3 Performance comes with Free Unlimited Supercharging for the life of the vehicle, but only for the initial owner. This was a part of Tesla's referral programme, and it was only available for new orders made using a referral code. This deal does not apply to any other Model 3 trim levels.
Although the field has been narrowing over the years, finding a secondhand Model X with Unlimited Free Supercharging is still possible. The Model X has received multiple promotions for Free Unlimited Supercharging, similar to the Model S, however truly transferrable Free Unlimited Supercharging hasn't been a part of the equation since March of 2017.
After that, a Model X may or may not have Free Unlimited Supercharging for the present owner, and as of May 2020, even new Model Xs will not have this option. The only method to get Free Unlimited Supercharging on a new or used Model X is to buy a pre-2017 Model X from a private seller after confirming that the Free Supercharging is transferrable.
Simply explained, the Free Unlimited Supercharging promotion has never included the Model Y. If Tesla keeps cutting back on that initiative, the Model Y will almost certainly always have to pay for Supercharging.
However, there have been limited incentives through Tesla's referral programme, which provide Model Y owners with 400 kWh (about 1000 miles) of Free Supercharging when friends buy a Tesla using a referral code. Additionally, any Model Y purchased between December 12 and December 31, 2020 got a year of free supercharging.
Ways to check for Free Unlimited Supercharging
Tesla's service professionals should be able to look this up for you if you don't mind waiting or calling a few times. The most accurate approach to verify for Free Unlimited Supercharging is to contact Tesla. but there are other ways that Tesla owners can check:
Check Your Tesla User Account
To check for the Free Unlimited Supercharging option, go to "Manage" and then "View Details." This technique, unlike the option codes (see below), does not define whether or not you have Free Unlimited Supercharging that will transfer to the next owner. However, when combined with the table we included earlier with your Tesla's model and year, you should be able to get a pretty good indication of whether or not it will transfer.
Search the Source Code of Your Tesla A ccount for Option Codes
By heading to your My Tesla User Account and selecting "Manage" then "View Details," you can check for Free Supercharging in your Tesla's option codes. Look for text containing option codes, OptionCodes, or something similar followed by a string of numbers in the HTML using your browser's tools to look for the four digit codes that represent the options on your Tesla (check for text containing option codes, OptionCodes, or something similar followed by a string of numbers).
While this may be a little too technical for some, it's a more reliable approach to see if your Tesla has Unlimited Free Supercharging (or some other Free Supercharging amount).
The top tier of Unlimited Free Supercharging is a Tesla with code SC01, which has no restrictions, followed by SC05, which lasts for the current owner only.
Is Free Unlimited Supercharging Transferable on Preowned Teslas?
If you buy a Tesla from a third-party dealer, you will not receive Free Unlimited Supercharging. Tesla dislikes the idea of third-party dealers in the first place, so they made sure there was no further motivation for dealers to steal new or used inventory with this functionality.
Automobiles purchased via Tesla's Used Inventory no longer include Free Unlimited Supercharging, even if they previously did. This is a big disappointment for used Tesla purchasers searching for the old Model S and Model X through Tesla, but it can make an already outstanding offer much better for a private seller.
Tesla has stopped offering free unlimited supercharging for the life of the vehicle on new purchases, instead limiting it to the first private owner for the life of the vehicle. This prevents the flow of data.
Finally, there's still hope if you're looking for a pre-owned Tesla with Free Unlimited Supercharging. While private seller transfers remain the only method to acquire Free Unlimited Supercharging without purchasing a new Tesla, the good news is that there are still plenty of pre-2017 vehicles available from private sellers.
It is therefore important to always confirm with the owner of a listing that their Free Unlimited Supercharging is transferable.
Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes and the details included are subject to change by Tesla at any time.