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If you leave your vehicle at a Tesla supercharger for too long, you may be charged Tesla idle fees. This reasonable fee helps ensure they are available to the people who need them most.
What Are Tesla Idle Fees?
If continue to connect to a Tesla supercharger after it is fully charged, you may incur the idle fee charge. These fees are an attempt to ensure that the charging stations are available. They shouldn’t be taken up by cars sitting idle after they’ve been charged.
Although it might seem extreme to charge people a fee when they aren’t even using any energy, there is logic to it.
Just as you wouldn’t leave your vehicle at a gas pump, you shouldn’t leave it at a charger. Either place is for adding extra range to your car and getting out of the way for others to do the same.
As a long-term plan, Tesla wants cars to be able to move themselves away from the chargers. Once they’re charged enough, they disconnect and open to spot for others. But this isn’t available yet. So the idle fee is there to motivate people to drive them out of the way.
When Do Charges Start?
Tesla idle fees only start if:
- Your vehicle is fully charged and connected to the supercharger, and
- The charging station has at least 50% of its chargers occupied
You don’t have to move your car early. You can wait to get your battery full no matter how many others are waiting. And you won’t have idle fees if you are the only car at the entire supercharger.
The Tesla app will notify you when your battery car is close to full, and then again when it is charged. Tesla’s official policy is that the fees will start to accumulate once fully charged if the station is at 50%. But some people have noticed a 5-minute grace period before idle fees start.
How Much Will You Pay?
The rates of the idle fees depend on the country you are in and how busy the Tesla supercharger is.
In the United States, the rates are:
- If the station has above 50% occupancy, the fee is $0.50 per minute with no cap
- If the station is full at 100% occupancy, that doubles to $1.00 per minute
The fees are somewhat similar at £0.50 and £1.00 per minute for most countries that use the Euro. For a full list, you can visit the Tesla Supercharger Idle Fees page.
Why Is There a Tesla Idle Fee?
The Tesla Supercharger idle fees are there to help people have access to unused chargers. By adding this small fee, it gives people an incentive to move their vehicle once charged.
Tesla has the largest fleet of charging stations in the world. But even that doesn’t allow enough to leave cars parked idle at them. This is especially true in areas with a high density of battery-electric vehicles.
The ability to use a Supercharger can be crucial while driving. It might be that you are on a long road trip. Then you’ll need to recharge to reach your destination, maybe even more than once. Or you’ve had a busy day around town and need a little charge to get home.
In either case, you need access to the charger. It would be very inconvenient if you can’t charge because cars are sitting idle.
How Do Drivers Pay Idle Fees?
The easiest way to pay the idle fees is by having a payment method saved on file through the Tesla app. This can pay for charging costs and any idle fees if incurred.
If you don’t have a payment method on file, you will still be able to see the Tesla idle fees through the Tesla app. You will also receive email notifications for the charges. You’ll need to pay for these. If your outstanding fees get too high, Tesla will restrict your Supercharger access.
The good news is that the Supercharge idle fees include tax. You shouldn’t see anything other than the fees for the time you left your vehicle connected but charged.
How To Avoid Idle Fees and Save Money
The best way to avoid fees is to use charging stations for quick recharges when necessary. When you use the Tesla Supercharger make sure to:
- Pay attention to the charging status through your touchscreen or the Tesla app
- If away from the vehicle, make sure your Tesla app notifications are on
- Once you receive an alert that your vehicle is nearing 100% charge, move it off the Supercharger
- Do not let it sit connected to the Supercharger after the battery is charged
The Supercharger network is great for short bursts of energy. The high-voltage system helps charge fast. However, Tesla recommends using at-home charging for the majority of your charging needs.
Doing this leaves the charger capacity open for those who need it while driving a distance over the single-charge range.
At home, you can let your vehicle charge overnight. This may have energy cost savings since some providers give off-hours discounts. It also helps you avoid the need to wait at Superchargers altogether. Then if you do need to top off to get home, you can get a partial charge and finish the charging session at home.
Some people worry about the high-voltage charging causing battery degradation. But according to most studies, there is no significant difference.
Do Tesla Idle Fees Apply to Non-Tesla Vehicles?
Some Tesla Supercharger stations allow non-Tesla vehicles to charge. Those vehicles are still subject to idle fees with the same logic and structure as Tesla vehicles. It doesn’t matter which type of car you are driving. You will have fees if it sits in the charging station when fully charged.
To make sure everyone has access to a Supercharger when needed, fully-charged vehicles incur up to $1.00 per minute when connected to a Supercharger and sitting idle at a busy station. To avoid this fee, move your vehicle before or immediately once it is charged.
Want to learn more about charging your Tesla vehicle while on the go? Head over to our article covering the Tesla Supercharger for all the details.