Inbound Ambassador

How NOT to charge an Electric Car at AEON in Japan

You can learn so much from a failed attempt to do something- in this case I learned the good and bad points of the AEON malls’ EV fast charger system in Japan.

Trying out the fast charger at AEON

I’ve wanted to try this WAON (AEON mall) EV charging port system for a while now to have more charging options. Insecurity about where and when to charge is the number one reason people are unsure about buying or using electric cars. This is also true for me when traveling away from my usual home charger or out of the way of a Tesla supercharger. I have the standard (not long) range model3 TESLA and the max charge range is better than rival EVs in Japan at 350km (217 miles) of a similar standard, but still a cause for anxiety on long trips.

The AEON mall EV charging network is a huge resource for EV drivers in Japan as they have thousands of machines nationwide. It was, however, actually harder to navigate than I expected and turned into a trial & error challenge as it was almost impossible to read the sun weathered screen with an impossible glare on it. The instructions in Japanese were also hard to follow as well 😩

Although I didn’t capture it in the video, I did managed to get the charge done in the end, so here is some information that EV drivers trying this system may find helpful.

TESLA drivers will need to use an attachment to connect to non-Tesla chargers like this in Japan. One of the small attachments that comes standard with all Teslas sold in Japan works for low-powered charging, but for fast charging, you will need a bigger attachment such as shown in the photo below which costs upwards of 20,000 yen ($200).

In this live video above, I go through the process and take some comments from EV (Electric Car) drivers in the US. Spoiler alert- I do NOT successfully charge my electric car using the Aeon Mall charging fast charger system.

AEON charger Review

Good points 🙂

  • WAON rechargeable card payment – pay-as-you-go without a need for a monthly membership sign-up commitment or regular charges even when not using it (which is the usual ChaDeMo system).
  • 300 yen ($3) 30 min is very reasonably priced for about 100km charge
  • Partially Solar power sourced renewable energy at the AEON mall chain
  • Convenient network of EV chargers at AEON malls across Japan
  • Shop/eat while you charge – so even if using the less powerful chargers it’s okay for a little battery top-up
  • Unique Japan WAON Branding
    Cute #rechargable #reusable #payasyougo 電子マネー #digitalmoney card you can use which makes a little woof/bark sound when used 🐶

The WAON card I chose is the Carp baseball team since I am in Hiroshima, this is a great way to get locals more interested in signing up for these cards by connecting to something local people love. This could also be a selling point to appeal to visitors as souvenirs.

All in all, I’d have to say I am happy with the end result of almost 100km (62 miles) in 30 min charging for the price of 300 yen ($3).

I am impressed with the Aeon Mall chain for offering the #EV charging infrastructure partially powered by #renewableenergy as a part of their CSR and SDG commitments. Above and beyond compliance is certainly great branding and best-practice for the shopping mall industry in Asia.

Need for Improvement / Bad Points 😩
1) Too many machines! Which machine do I use?
Answer : the thin one with the card reader not the big one with the big, irresistable, I-want-to-press-them buttons 😂 

The larger machine is only where you get the charging attachment, so it seems like a machine you need to engage with, but upon closer inspection it tells you not to do anything and refers you to the smaller machine. So, even though it is tempting, don’t do anything on the bigger machine beside take the charging connection off to fit to your car. Don’t press the red, blue or green button no matter how tempting those buttons are! 😂

2) Impossible to see the screen to select charging method and payment 😩
This is definitely the biggest hurdle to success at this charging facility. It’s almost impossible to see this screen even if it’s shaded, and even if you’re able to navigate through the many steps of confusing choices and information in confusing Japanese 🤔🧐

Tips to Make it a Better System

1) Design Upgrade

Japan Excels at Cute Icons, Signs and Explanations. So, how about adding more diagrams and a cute step by step of How to Use + How to Charge with pictures 🙂

Making a simpler selection system on a machine that can be read even after it is weathered by the sun is also a very important update needed.

2) Simplify the process and amount of information

Cover those tempting buttons on the larger machine – if customers shouldn’t use it – to simplify the process. Even though I could read the Japanese, I couldn’t believe that those big buttons didn’t need to be pushed! Okay, you probably figured out that YES I did push them and NO nothing bad happened, but probably better not to push them if you can resist.

3) Multilingual Information Covers Future EV Trends in Japan for Travel

I believe we can expect to also see EV’s and plug-in Hybrids in use by visitors through rental car and carshare services in Japan in the next 5 years, added a multilingual version of the machine selection process is an important update for this system.

There are many best-practice examples of companies in Japan – such as the post-office and carshare / coin parking companies – which are already good at integrating multilingual processes, payment at their machines.#EV #charging #Japan #infrastructure

Thanks for reading this post on my InboundAmbassador site – did you find it useful? Any Questions or Comments? If you have any comments or questions if you are thinking of buying or renting an Electric Car in Japan, feel free to get in touch- my DMs are open!

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