Tesla could charge you more if you overcharge your electric car

You'll want to be paying attention at a Tesla Supercharger, or you'll literally pay the price

Tesla Supercharger
(Image credit: Tesla)

The Tesla Supercharger network is probably the best EV charging service around. The charging stations are plentiful, and there’s usually a good number of Superchargers at each one - all of which can kick-out electricity at fast speeds. 

However, as more of the best EVs hit the roads and Tesla continues to open up its charging stations to vehicles from other manufacturers, things can get busy and it’s keen to prevent drivers hogging a cable.

Idle fees have been around for a while in more than 40 countries including the US and UK (when your car is fully charged but still connected to a Supercharger and the station is at least 50% full), but Tesla's now introduced a new "congestion fee" for drivers in the US.

The congestion fee will only apply if two conditions are met; the Supercharger station has to be busy (although Tesla doesn't qualify what it deems "busy"), and your vehicle’s battery is at or above the congestion fee level.

The current congestion fee level in the US is 90% of battery charge, but Tesla has left the door open to tweaking this figure in the future if it deems it necessary. If you meet the criteria, you’ll be charged an additional $1 for every minute you're connected - which can quickly rack up if you’re not paying attention.

A notification and five minutes grace

The good news is you’ll be alerted before the congestion fee starts, with a notification delivered via the Tesla app, and you’ll have a five minute grace period to disconnect your vehicle from the charger - handy if you happen to be using the restroom at the time.

While additional fees are never particularly nice to accept, at least in this case the motive behind it is to free up chargers and allow those waiting to get plugged in quicker. We’ve seen way too many videos of bust-ups over EV charging so anything to help reduce the stress is welcomed.

Considering the widely adopted idle fees at Supercharger stations around the world, we’d expect Tesla to roll out the congestion fee to more US locations in the future - and then potentially push it out to stations in other countries as well. So you’ll want to keep an extra keen eye on the Tesla app next time you’re at a Supercharger to make sure you don’t get stung.

John McCann

John has been a technology journalist for more than a decade, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He’s reported on pretty much every area of consumer technology, from laptops, tablets, smartwatches and smartphones to smart speakers, automotive, headphones and more. During his time in journalism, John has written for TechRadar, T3, Shortlist, What Laptop, Windows 8 magazine, Gizmodo UK, Saga Magazine and Saga Exceptional, and he’s appeared in the Evening Standard and Metro newspapers.

Outside of work, John is a passionate Watford FC and Green Bay Packers fan, enjoys a Sunday afternoon watching the F1, and is also a Guinness World Record Holder.