Tesla is completely revamping its referral program after already spending $23 million on free Supercharging miles this year alone.
For years, Tesla relied on its referral program to boost demand.
The automaker doesn’t like to spend on marketing or advertising and instead, it relied on its userbase to promote its vehicles and rewarded them in the process.
At the core of the referral program, new buyers can use referral links from current owners when buying a new Tesla and each party gets prizes.
The prizes have changed a lot over the years.
At the peak of the program, Tesla was giving away free new Roadsters to owners who accumulated enough referrals.
An impressive number of people ended up reaching that level, and we estimated that Tesla would be giving away about 80 new Roadsters on top of giving out significant discounts to many more.
CEO Elon Musk later announced that Tesla is killing its referral program due to cost concernsassociated with all those Roadsters, which the automaker has yet to deliver.
Tesla didn’t end up killing the program, but it did reduce the prizes to 1,000 free Supercharging miles on both sides of the transaction.
Now even the free Supercharging miles are apparently starting to become a bit too expensive for Tesla.
Sources familiar with the matter told Electrek that Tesla spent over $23 million in free Supercharging miles last quarter alone.
It is prompting the automaker to do even more changes to the referral program.
According to a source familiar with the matter, Tesla plans to eliminate referral links, which owners often spam on social media, and instead turn to an app-based referral program promoting in-person referrals.
The plans are still not entirely clear, but Tesla plans to update its mobile app to have more features for non-Tesla owners.
It is going to facilitate test drives and current owners can link their account to the new user’s app to give test drives and if those new users end up ordering a Tesla, the current owner will be rewarded.
This is a bit surprising. I didn’t know that the free Supercharging miles were getting so expensive for Tesla.
Especially since I have 1 million free Supercharging miles that I will never use:
I just reached 1 million @Tesla free Supercharging miles and I want to give them all away. Let's go @elonmusk. Please enable free Supercharger mile sharing. The referral program has already been toned down greatly. Let's not let those miles go to waste. pic.twitter.com/xPiEOK295J
— Fred Lambert (@FredericLambert) September 28, 2020
But it looks like a positive change that will make the referral program more about person-to-person interactions instead of mainly having influencers accumulating hundreds of referrals.
Also, it’s apparently one of several more changes coming to Tesla based on an important mobile app update that will make the app more useful to non-Tesla owners.
Stay tuned for more soon.