One of the advantages of buying Tesla Motors’ [NSDQ:TSLA] Model S or Model X over a rival electric car is that it gives you free access to a growing network of high-speed charging stations, referred to by the company as Superchargers.

However, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has made it clear the feature won’t be free for the upcoming Model 3, though he stressed there will be a package available to ensure owners will still be able to use the charging stations.

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“So it will still be very cheap, and far cheaper than gasoline, to drive long-distance with the Model 3,” Musk said. “But it will not be free long distance for life unless you purchase that package.”

Tesla Motors Supercharger station in Oxnard, California.

Tesla Motors Supercharger station in Oxnard, California.

Musk made the admission on Tuesday at Tesla’s annual shareholders meeting after being asked by a Model S owner how Tesla planned to handle the influx of Model 3 owners at the charging stations. More than 350,000 people have already pre-ordered the car.

He didn’t provide any further detail on the package but his comments indicate there will simply be a one-time payment that provides access to the charging stations for the entire period of ownership.

Eliminating, or “decoupling” as Musk called it, free usage of the charging network for Model 3 owners is likely one of the measures Tesla is employing to get the starting price of the car down to the promised $35,000 level. Other measures include using more steel in place of aluminum in the construction and Tesla mass-producing its own batteries at the Gigafactory being built in Nevada.


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