Tesla Supercharger Manners a Work in Progress

Tesla-bike-still 1- Publicity-H 2016
Courtesy of Facebook

The unwritten rules of etiquette at Supercharger stations are being tested as thousands of new Tesla owners encounter early adopters.

A Model X taking up three stalls at a Delaware Supercharger station created a furor among the Teslarati over the weekend, underscoring the growing pains the carmaker faces as it goes increasingly mainstream.

"We now have the King of Douches in our ranks," a user on Tesla's Reddit page wrote accompany the photo, which first appeared on the Tesla Worldwide Owners Group's Facebook page, one of hundreds of mostly negative comments posted on Tesla social media outlets, Elektrek reported.

"Dear California jackhole," wrote the Tesla owner who posted photos of a Model X with California plates parked sidewise across three charging stalls. "Here in Delaware we think it is rude to take up 3 supercharger spaces with one vehicle. What is wrong with you??????? This takes selfishness to a new level."

Part of Tesla's pitch to its Model X and Model S owners is free use of the company's Superchargers — which can recharge batteries to 170 miles of range in 30 minutes — for as long as they own the car.

Tesla has built a network of 632 Supercharger stations, with more on the way. But at busy Superchargers, like those in Burbank and Culver near the Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures lots, long waits for open stalls have created tensions, especially when some owners plug in their cars and disappear, sometimes for the entire day. The long waits for a stall at Supercharger and non-Tesla charging stations have unsurprisingly resulted in owners unplugging unattended cars, exchanging insults and other low-grade conflict, the New York Times reported.

Last August, Tesla sent an email to owners that it deemed were using Superchargers excessively. "The Supercharger Network's intent remains to expand and enhance your long-distance travel while providing the flexibility for occasional needed use during local trips. As a frequent user of local Superchargers, we ask that you decrease your local Supercharging and promptly move your Model S once charging is complete."

Tesla built the Supercharger network primarily to ease "range anxiety" on long-distance trips buy may have underestimated the appeal of using the facilities as de facto local filling stations. With Tesla's sales surging — it has booked more than 400,000 pre-orders for the Model 3, a $35,000 sedan set to arrive in 2017 — free Supercharging is coming under pressure.

Last week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that Model 3 owners will have to pay for Supercharging as part of a package.

"Free Supercharging fundamentally has a cost," Musk said during Tesla's annual shareholders meeting. "The obvious thing to do is decouple that from the cost of the Model 3. So it will still be very cheap, far cheaper than gasoline, to drive long distance with the Model 3, but it will not be free long distance for life unless you purchase that package."

Tesla's Model S has been Hollywood's status vehicle since its introduction in 2012. Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg drive the Model S, and car enthusiast Ellen DeGeneres has expressed interest in the Model 3.