Tesla's new free-charging policy will be many miles ahead of other EV automakers

A free Tesla Supercharger on Route 300 in Newburgh, N.Y., is conveniently located in a strip mall with an Italian-American restaurant and pizzeria, and a frozen yogurt store.


Who doesn't like "free"? 

In the last four years, owners of the all-electric Tesla Model S four-door hatchback and the Model X SUV have enjoyed free juice at a growing network of Superchargers across the continental U.S.

And if they have solar panels at home, all of the electricity they've used has been free.

Now, for Teslas ordered after Jan. 1, 2017, owners will receive 400 kWh hours of free Supercharging credits annually (roughly 1,000 miles) so that they can continue to enjoy free fast charging during travel.

"All cars will continue to come standard with the onboard hardware required for Supercharging," according to Tesla.

That hardware was a $2,000 option when I ordered my Model S 60 in early 2015.

Costs less than gas

Beyond the roughly 1,000 miles of free Supercharging credits, "there will be a small fee to Supercharge which will be charged incrementally and cost less than the price of filling up a comparable gas car," the Tesla Blog says.

"As we approach the launch of the Model 3, this update will enable us to greatly expand our Supercharger Network, providing customers with the best possible user experience and bringing sustainable transport to even more people," the company says.

Tesla is unique

Still, Tesla is the only carmaker to provide a network of free fast chargers, and after the changeover, is expected to remain the only one to provide annual charging credits.

Chevrolet has already announced purchasers of the Bolt EV won't get free charging on road trips.

You've also heard nothing from BMW and Nissan about free charging for their EVs.

Free for life

Since I took delivery in April 2015, I've driven my Tesla twice to the International Jazz Festival in Montreal in late June, a round trip of about 800 miles.

And since my car came with free charging for life, I'd still be able to make that road trip and others at no extra cost as long as I own it.

I had planned to trade in my Model S on the smaller Model 3 in a year or so, but may reconsider and keep two Teslas in our garage.

"Just as you charge your cell phone, we believe the best way to charge your car is either at home or at work, during the hours you're not using it," Tesla says.

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