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Tesla to fine drivers who hog Supercharger stations

By Allen Cone
Tesla to fine drivers who hog Supercharger stations
The latest Tesla cars are on display in the flagship Tesla showroom in Beijing on August 16. Tesla will begin imposing a 40 cents per minute fine on drivers who leave their cars parked at Supercharger stations more than five minutes after their vehicles finish charging. File photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

PALO ALTO, Calif., Dec. 18 (UPI) -- Tesla Motors Inc. plans to fine drivers who leave their cars parked at Supercharger stations more than five minutes after their vehicles finish charging, the company announced.

The fine will be 40 cents per minute, the Tesla Team said Friday.

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"We envision a future where cars move themselves once fully charged, enhancing network efficiency and the customer experience even further," the company said. "Until then, we ask that vehicles be moved from the Supercharger once fully charged. A customer would never leave a car parked by the pump at a gas station and the same thinking applies with Superchargers."

Tesla said it "designed the Supercharger network to enable a seamless, enjoyable road trip experience. Therefore, we understand that it can be frustrating to arrive at a station only to discover fully charged Tesla cars occupying all the spots."

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The Tesla app allows owners to remotely monitor their vehicle's charging.

"To be clear, this change is purely about increasing customer happiness and we hope to never make any money from it," the company said.

But the move could backfire.

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"What economics has missed is that adding an incentive -- a fine or a bonus -- may be subtracting something else, the individual's sense of responsibility, or obligation, or intrinsic pleasure," Samuel Bowles, a behavioral economist at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico, wrote in an essay published last summer in partnership with The Christian Science Monitor.

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Researchers did an experiment at 10 daycare centers in Haifa, Israel, from January to June 1998. Those that imposed the fine saw an immediate rise in tardiness that leveled out to about double the level of tardiness -- the same they saw before imposing the fine. Centers that didn't charge a late fee saw no change in tardiness.

Tesla plans to produce 80,000 to 90,000 electric cars this year after selling 50,580 in 2015.

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