Tesla is to limit free supercharging for all cars ordered after 1 January, 2017.

From that date only 400kWh of free supercharging credits (roughly 1,000 miles) will be included annually. Beyond that, Tesla said in a blog, there will be "a small fee to supercharge which will be charged incrementally and cost less than the price of filling up a comparable gas car. All cars will continue to come standard with the onboard hardware required for supercharging".

Tesla introduced the supercharger network four years ago and there are now 4,600 across the world.

"We've designed our network so that all customers have access to a seamless and convenient charging experience when they're away from home, as our intention has always been for supercharging to enable long distance travel. That's why we're announcing a change to the economics of supercharging – one that allows us to reinvest in the network, accelerate its growth and bring all owners, current and future, the best supercharging experience," Tesla said.

"We will release the details of the programme later this year and, while prices may fluctuate over time and vary regionally based on the cost of electricity, our supercharger network will never be a profit centre."

The changes will not affect current owners or any new Teslas ordered before 1 January, 2017 and delivered before 1 April.