Big Road Trip Number Three (BRT3)

One big difference between Tesla Japan and Tesla in other countries is owners' meetings. I have not heard of any such meetings on the Tesla forums or other places. I lost track of how many have taken place in Japan, but there have been at least ten. I wrote about an early one that took place around a year ago. They have been held at a few places, mostly Tesla stores or the Service Center. I attended my second meeting at the new Osaka store late last year, and, of course, I drove there.

Since I gained the confidence to make it to the Miyajima service area (SA) in one go from my previous road trip, I did a range charge. While previous range charges yielded 393 and 382 km., this one was a bit lower at 379 km. I know from experience and discussions on the forums that these numbers do not represent real world driving figures. There will be a post or two or three on battery issues in the future.

One problem before leaving was that although I had used the Miyajima CHAdeMO both times in the previous trip, it was not in my navi's database. The closest charger to Miyajima in the database was showing 406 km away. I knew I could get to the farther one but didn't want to push it. I just had to rely on not spacing out and missing the exit for the SA at Miyajima. I had made it there in one go before and had 40 km./11% remaining. That was just enough to make it to the next CHAdeMO, but why chance it?

The CHAdeMO was free when I pulled up, but there was a BMW plug-in hybrid i3 waiting to charge after my first 30 minutes were up. He was intent on charging, although not needing to charge is one of the points of hybrids, because he told me he wanted the power to go into the mountains. So I had to pack up my CHAdeMO adapter and move to the next rest stop. Keep in mind, my goal was Osaka, so the Supercharger there was my goal for the day. I needed enough charging to get there. As I pulled up to the next rest area with a CHAdeMO, a Mitsubishi hybrid pulled into the charging spot just as I was about to pull in. He saw me, and waved me in as he parked across the way. I pulled up and went to talk with him. He was very nice and told me to go ahead. We talked for 15-20 minutes; he seemed to be a big Tesla fan. After we talked, I went into the shop for a few minutes. When I came back, that gentleman was gone, and no one else was waiting. I grabbed another 30 minutes while I could. I needed another 30 minutes somewhere to make it to Osaka, so I tried the Miki SA where the CHAdeMO was out of service the first time I was there. I checked the EVsmart app and saw that it had successful chargers recently. I got the 30 minutes, but about ten minutes in, a Nissan Leaf pulled up and waited for me to leave. 30 minutes got me enough to make it to Osaka.

Miki SA CHAdeMO back up and running. 50kW!

Miki SA CHAdeMO back up and running. 50kW!

I pulled into the Osaka Supercharger and started charging. Tesla Japan had put together a driving trip after the meeting into the local mountains to check out the leaves changing colors, so I wanted to have enough charge for that the next day. Two more Model S pulled in as I was charging, so it was a nice sight. Both had Osaka plates, and one of the owners lives around the corner. He told me in a previous encounter that he had no place at his home to install a charger. Please keep in mind, not all owners' ideas about Supercharging fit all. There are numerous threads on the Tesla forums debating who should use Superchargers.

3 out of four spots taken; never seen so many

3 out of four spots taken; never seen so many

After charging, I parked in the paid public parking next to the new Osaka store. I spent the night in a business hotel (that means a no-frills room with very little space) that was in walking distance. The next morning, I went to the new store, and it was a thing of beauty. Here are some shots.

Two pristine Roadsters stand out on one side of the store

Two pristine Roadsters stand out on one side of the store

This is the main section of the store; not nearly as cramped as Aoyama

This is the main section of the store; not nearly as cramped as Aoyama

A Model S chassis; I like the front view because you can see the fans for cooling

A Model S chassis; I like the front view because you can see the fans for cooling

Gotta have a red one on display

Gotta have a red one on display

They had some food and drink for us at the meeting. There was a presentation of Autopilot and some of the plans for expansion. Then there was a Q & A session which, much like the one I attended in Tokyo, turned into a complaint session. Most of the complaints were along the lines of, "Why can't my car do...?" I think many owners have come from other brands and expect their cars to behave the same. I came from driving Hondas for more than 30 years, and I had no expectations that my Tesla would be anything like any Honda I had driven. I enjoyed the meeting and hearing about plans for Tesla in Japan. I am hoping the talk of completing the Supercharger network happens soon. These long trips just make me want to drive my car more and more.

The group drive was cancelled by those of us who signed up. The weather had turned rainy and windy overnight, so the goal of checking out the changing leaves was not possible. After talking with owners and Tesla staff, I hopped in my car for the drive home. I first went to the Kobe Supercharger to get a good charge; I prefer that one to Osaka because there is a restroom at the golf course where the Supercharger is located.

Kobe Supercharger on Port Island

Kobe Supercharger on Port Island

I don't really have much to add about the trip home except to say that a trip to/from my home to/from the Kansai area (Kobe or Osaka for our purposes) takes ten hours. If I drive a bit quicker, I need to charge longer on CHAdeMO. If I drive slower, I can drive longer and don't need to charge as much. The difference in charging/driving time is about 30 minutes any way I look at it. I left Kobe around 5:30 and got home around 3:30. It's been that way every similar leg I've driven.

Takeaways from this trip: Tesla owners in Japan really have need for the Supercharger network to get filled in. If we have to wait for charging, plus need to deal with CHAdeMO charging speeds, long-distance driving is going to take longer than it should. Don't get me wrong; I enjoy the breaks I take while I'm charging. I get a chance to stretch my legs, eat, do things on my phone that need doing, and the other obvious thing. Regardless, Nexco (the government agency that runs Japan's highways) is going to need to rethink charging needs for drivers of EVs. As these vehicles become more ubiquitous, more drivers are going to need more chargers and time hooked up charging.