CHAdeMo Charging on Japanese Highways

As you can see from the current Supercharging map for Japan, we have a long way to go yet. The larger badges represent Superchargers, and the smaller are High-Powered Wall Connectors, used for destination charging (like the messy garage shot in the next-to-last post; that is being worked on gradually). If you plan to drive any distance in this country, you will need to depend on Japan's CHAdeMo system and/or destination charging. CHAdeMo chargers are what are used mainly for Japanese EVs and hybrids. Both Nissan and Mitsubishi EVs use them to add power. Many companies and local communities are adding them as well. Destination charging refers to slower charging, something you would do on a long stop or overnight. Destination chargers have been touched on here, but I will write more on them later. For now, keeping moving is the focus here, so in the absence of Superchargers, we will look at CHAdeMo. Fortunately, there was a huge push to install CHAdeMO along all of the Japanese highway system, so Kyushu now has a network up and running. As you will see, there are good points and bad points to this system.

In the interest of continuity, I'll repost a shot of a CHAdeMO on the Kyushu highway. There are different types, depending on when and where they were installed.

The big box on the left is the actual charger. The CHAdeMO connector itself is in the smaller box attached to the upper right; just open the door to access it.  There are two plastic-embossed sheets with instructions in Japanese on how to get the charger working. The pink elephants in three places identifies it as a part of the Nippon Charging System (NCS). More on that coming up. The smaller box on the right is the controller where you get your charge authorized.

So here we go:

Grab your Tesla CHAdeMO adapter (included with all Model S sold in Japan). I keep mine in the recessed space in the trunk since that's near where all the charging action takes place.

Next, open up that box on the CHAdeMO connector and grab the handle. If it is locked in, just push the button to release it.

With the CHAdeMO connector and the Tesla adapter in each hand, line them up and push until they lock together.

You'll hear the click when the connection is made.

You should be able to just put the Tesla adapter in as usual. The CHAdeMO is not powered like a Supercharger or HPWC, so you need to make sure you've opened up your charge port and your car is unlocked. When you see the usual green, you're good to go for the next step.

Sorry, this is not the first screen you will see...

Sorry, this is not the first screen you will see...

Now the fun begins. How are you going to pay for this charge? Yep, you will need to pay for this charge, unlike a Supercharger charge. If you're reading this post to find out how to charge your Tesla, you will be choosing credit card. If you know what you're doing and have prepared ahead of time, you will have applied for and received an NCS card.

A quick diversion on the payment for a Japanese highway CHAdeMO charge: If you're using your credit card to pay, you will pay ¥50 a minute for the charge, no matter the speed of the charger. If you have an NCS card (¥3,800 a month subscription and used on other chargers around Japan, not just the highway system), you can just flash your card to get the charge going. You will pay ¥15 a minute with the NCS card. It works out to: if you use more than two hours of charge a month, the NCS card will save you money. If you charge up to two hours a month on the system, there is no need to apply for the card, BUT you will have to go through the upcoming procedure EACH time you charge. Ready?

Remember the two instruction sheets? This is the one you will need to use to get the password to charge. The web page to access is in the right side yellow box.

Click that link, and go to the blue box that says Smart Phone. Click that box and do the same with the link at the bottom on the next screen saying you agree to the terms.

That will take you to the screen asking where you are.

The first menu item is the prefecture and the second is the city, ward, town or village you are in. Look back at the instruction sheet above. At the very bottom is a red band. Most of the information is in that red band. I say most because last week I was charging in Saga Prefecture, but had no idea which part. I guessed the city and got lucky.

On this screen you need to hit the radio button for the actual place you are doing the charging. That information will also be on the red band of the instructions. Make sure you get the direction correct. There are often two service areas with the same name, each one heading in different directions.

I don't have a shot of the next screen, but that's where you enter your credit card information, number and expiration date.

If everything has gone well, you will get to a screen with a password. You need to enter that password into the controller using a combination of the left and right keys and the Okay button to move to the next number. Your password will get you 30 minutes of charge. If you need more, you may have to repeat the procedure above. I have not tried to reuse the same password to extend the charge. Finally, press the Start button on the CHAdeMO charger to get things going.

The benefits of supercharging should be clear: back your car in and plug in the Supercharger. That's it. Charging with CHAdeMO can be a whole other animal. Those on the highway can be convenient and they're well-spaced, but the charges are too expensive. I might pay ¥700-¥800 for a full charge (70+ kW) at home using the night rate of about ¥10 per kW. 

30 minutes of a CHAdeMO charge on the highway with no NCS card costs 1620 with tax (yes, consumption tax is added to the charge) and gets me 20 kW on a good charger (not all CHAdeMO chargers are created equal). That works out to around ¥5,670 for the same full charge I would get at home. That's a huge difference I find difficult to understand. 

I'll leave this post with a shot of the Rocket getting a charge on the Kyushu highway. I love my car!