Tesla Taiwan announced on June 8 that it will finally implement a user-pay model and an idle fee for the Supercharger stations on the island starting in July. It is hoped that billing EV owners for using the fast-charging service and penalizing them for leaving their vehicles at the station for too long will alleviate the current problem of long queues.
The idle fee, which is calculated as a per-minute rate, applies to all models under the Tesla brand. From July onward, any vehicle that has completed its charging session at the Supercharger station but remains connected to the charging pile will be levied NT$15 per minute if the whole station is 50% occupied. The rate doubles to NT$30 if the station is 100% full.
Long lines at Supercharger stations are the most common complaint that Tesla has been hearing for nearly a year now. To improve service and discourage hogging of the limited charging stalls at each station, Tesla has instituted idle fee to all countries where its vehicles are sold. Taiwan is the latest regional market to adopt this scheme. The latest announcement should be welcoming news for owners of Tesla vehicles on the island as they are already struggling to make do with the few local Supercharger stations that are always in high demand.
When a Tesla vehicle is being charged at a Supercharger station, its owner can use the Tesla app to receive the notification on the completion of the charging session. The idle fee also kicks in once the session is over, but it is waived if the vehicle moves out of the charging stall within five minutes. The rates in the US and China are currently US$0.5 per minute and RMB 3.2 per minute respectively. Taking account of the exchange rates, Tesla appears to have made the idle fee uniform worldwide.
Since there is no ceiling on the amount of idle fee that may accrue after a charging session, Tesla drivers need to closely monitor the charging process with the mobile app and immediately disconnect their vehicles from the charging pile when the session is completed. In Taiwan, Tesla drivers could pay a heavy price for being neglectful as the cost of overstaying for an hour at a fully occupied station comes to a total of NT$1,800.
Even though Tesla’s idle fee policy states that billing will not occur until the station is 50% occupied, online anecdotes from foreign Tesla drivers indicate that the penalty is often incurred for those that are carless. In many of these cases, the driver who had thought the station was empty enough to allow for a longer break was unpleasantly surprised to get billed later. Currently, Tesla has yet to offer a solution that can provide drivers with clear information about the occupancy rate of a Supercharger station. What arriving drivers see at the scene might be very different from the actual usage of the charging piles. Regardless of drivers’ perception, the idle fee will be in force at any station that shows up 50% full on Tesla’s internal monitoring system.
Similar to the practice of credit card companies waiving their clients’ first late fee, Tesla generally warns but not bill the first idle fee incurred by Supercharger users so as to reduce customer complaints. Nevertheless, it is highly recommended that Tesla drivers should disconnect their vehicles from the Supercharger right away and leave the station once they finish charging the vehicle battery. Establishing this habit will not only save time and money but also reduce the queue time for other fellow Tesla drivers, thus leading to a better experience for all service users.
Besides the idle fee, Tesla Taiwan also stated in its announcement that the Supercharger billing policy will require users to pay an additional fee for “excess charging”—or using the power supplied by the station for purposes other than charging the vehicle battery. This measure, which will be in effect along with the idle fee and the whole pricing scheme starting in the second half of this year, probably aims to reflect the cost of using in-vehicle systems (e.g., HVAC and infotainment) while the vehicle is still in its charging session. However, Tesla Taiwan has yet to reveal details on the breakdown of the various costs of the charging session, the payment methods, and when the service users will be receiving their first bill.
Tesla Taiwan has selected the National Taiwan University as the site of Taiwan’s first V3 (third-generation) Supercharger station. Its exact location is in the campus parking lot next to the College of Social Sciences (i.e., along Taipei’s Xinhai Road). According to the follow-up reporting from TechNews, the station will formally enter operation on June 29. Since V3 features the latest and fastest charging specifications, local Tesla drivers are expected to benefit significantly from this additional service point for their vehicles.
(News source: TechNews. Photo credit: Tesla.)