In Japan, BMW i3 Gets CHAdeMO, Slow Charge Connector Hidden Under Hood.

Just like many other industries, the electric car world is awash with competing standards, most of which seem to govern the connectors and processes by which electric car battery packs are charged. Worse still, North America, Europe, and Asia all have differing standards.

In Japan, the BMW i3 comes with a CHAdeMO charge connector -- and a J1772 connector in a strange place.

In Japan, the BMW i3 comes with a CHAdeMO charge connector — and a J1772 connector in a strange place.

Historically, cars from Japan have been sold in Europe and America with CHAdeMo quick charge capabilities as standard, despite CHAdeMO being a Japanese charging standard. Similarly, North American cars are often sold in Europe with J1772 connectors on them, despite the officially-mandated European charging standard being based on the Mennekes connector. But what happens when a just-launched European car — like the BMW i3, for example — is sold overseas?

The connectors are changed, of course, ostensibly to give drivers of the i3 access to more public quick charging stations.

But because the CHAdeMO quick charge connector is larger in size than the Combined Charge Standard combined AC and DC charging inlet the BMW i3 was designed around, there isn’t enough room for the standard AC charge connector to fit alongside it. The solution? Place the AC charge connector under the hood.

This strange charging compromise means Japanese owners of the i3 who want to use slower, 240-Volt public charging stations or even charge at 100 volts using a domestic power outlet will have to first raise the bonnet before plugging in.

Frankly, the solution is anything but elegant. With a moderately-sized boot, the BMW i3 has a tiny under-bonnet storage area for things like the tire repair kit and charging cables. But because the J1772 inlet is recessed towards the rear of this area, Japanese owners will have to keep the space clear if they want to regularly use slower-speed level 1 and level 2 chargers.

CHAdeMO Rapid Charger Connector

CHAdeMO Rapid Charger Connector

Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen electric cars change charging connectors for different export markets. While U.S. Tesla Model S owners have cars fitted with Tesla’s own proprietary charging connector, European owners have cars fitted with a modified version of the Mennekes plug found on cars like the Renault Zoe and Smart ForTwo ED. When it launches in Japan in coming months, the Model S is also expected to ship with a CHAdeMO-style connector to allow it to use the countries extensive network of charging stations.

It’s no wonder either: in the U.S., there are just 306 CHAdeMO quick chargers, while the whole of Europe totals just under one thousand CHAdeMO stations. Japan, where the standard was invented, has a massive 1,858 public charge stations.

For those wanting to take their car from one country to the next — like military personnel or someone considering emigrating — the differing connectors on offer pose an interesting challenge for anyone considering moving continent with their car.

Would you buy a car with a charging connector hidden in a strange place? Are you frustrated by the plethora of charging standards, and what would your solution be?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

Story from Atmarkit, via @Jcstp.


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  • Seems backwardsu2026 charging taking hours to complete requires popping the hood, while a quick charge (CHAdeMO) taking minutes uses a more secure fender port. nnHonda’s solution used on Fit EV (Japanese model) seems betteru2026 a charge port on opposite (front) fenders.

  • George B

    I think the idea is that you might stove the EVSE cord for trickle charging in the frunk, and might be used to opening it before plugging in. Unfortunately, a trickle charge from a regular outlet in Japan will likely take about three times as long as a similar charge would take in Germany.

  • CDspeed

    This is why the SAE came up with CCS, because the CHAdeMO connector is so big you’d end up with either a big door over both ports, or two ports in seperate locations. Tesla’s makes the most sense but being that it belongs to Tesla the competition will most likely never adopt it.

    • Mark Chatterley

      But why did they need a new connector at all? The Type 2 protocol handles DC at roughly the same wattage. Very odd.

      • David Peilow

        When I spoke too BMW’s engineers they didn’t know that.nnTo give more detail: This was at the i3 press launch event in London. BMW were not aware that Type 2 was capable of carrying DC through it’s normal pins (the DC-Mid variant) or 43kW AC as per the Zoe.nnI did wonder if this was a local issue or right through the company. But it may explain some of the design decisions.

      • DC is not part of the Type 2 plug spec, Tesla reconfigures the plug to use pairs of pins to charge on DC. The EU/UK approved standard for DC is Type 2 plug for communications, mated with CCS (2-large power pins) for DC current. Tesla uses the Type 2 AC pins to move DC current. This likely means Tesla has tighter engineering specs on its plug/connector & higher power rating for the cable (beyond the Type 2 spec). Result is a lower priced cable than CCS cable as has less copper (2-less large wires) and have the connector.nnThere is technically nothing from stopping EU/UK from adding Tesla DC charging to Type 2 standard. Tesla (Elon) has stated that they are open to licensing their charging technology.nnPS: Elon Musk has recently taken on an advisory role with UK government related to electric vehicles and infrastructure. Not to start any rumors, but has more experience deploying EV infrastructure than has been in any standards committee to this point.

        • Mark Chatterley

          Here you go: up to 70kW is part of the Type 2 design without additional plugs.nnnI have no idea why they didn’t use this. It makes the whole CCS standard really weird.

          • Jonathan Tracey

            probably just to do with the max current it can push over the extended connector (bigger pins, fatter wires) does anyone use the DC-Mid standard ?

          • Thanks, interesting note. Agree, is weird as most CCS charging references 50 kW even though connector spec’d for max. of 90 kW.

  • David Peilow

    Given that they put another door on the front wing for petrol, couldn’t they just have another location for J1772? Nevertheless I’d actually prefer a CHAdeMO port, so maybe Japanese import it is…

    • George B

      Oh, that’s right, the steering wheel position is identical in both Japan and the UK. That’s quite serendipitous.

    • Mark Chatterley

      Out of CCS and CHAdeMO, in the UK at the moment there is no debate, CHAdoMO should be on the car.

      • Jonathan Tracey

        is there no way to produce a dongle like the Tesla CHAdeMO cable which can covert CCS to CHAdeMO. Hopefully it wont cost $1000, that way i3 drivers could take advantage of the ecotricity roll out

        • David Peilow

          Yes there is definitely a way to produce this and I hope someone is working on it.

        • Note in EU/UK, Tesla will be using Type 2 connector. The Tesla Type 2 can automatically reconfigure to support charging from: AC 200-220 2-phase (3-20 kW), AC 200-220 3-phase (6-43 kW), and Tesla SuperCharging (90-120 kW). While SuperCharging is not part of the Type 2 spec, Tesla has added the capability for its customers.nnAn adaptor to/from CHAdeMO, or to/from CSS will require EVSE-like electronics to provide digital/analog translation of two protocols, plus ground-fault safety features. Thus cost would be similar to other EVSE charge point.

  • Jonathan Tracey

    Is there a single BMW compatible fast charger in the UK yet ?

    • David Peilow

      Nope. But we are promised that CCS ones are coming.

      • Jonathan Tracey

        is this the same promises given to Leaf owners that are only now starting to come true ?

        • David Peilow

          Pretty much, but there are over two hundred CHAdeMO sites now and it is fast becoming a useful network.

          • Jonathan Tracey

            oh I agree and the number is increasing fast, however the timeframes given when most of the early adopters were hugely over optemistic and bordering on fantasy. I worry that new BMW i3 drivers will be promised the world as well and it will take 2-3 years before a half decent network is in place.

          • David Peilow

            Agreed. I remember Nissan saying they were going to deploy all their free CHAdeMO chargers in 4 months. I told them at the time they were dreaming. However it’s starting to happen and fair play to them for sticking with it.nnI agree that BMW owners shouldn’t expect instant results, but I think it will be easier and quicker to get CCS chargers out there now that they initial barriers to rapid chargers at service stations have been broken down. Service station operators are aware of what CCS is and are expecting Ecotricity et al to make the upgrade to their kit.nnHaving said that, if I were buying an i3 now, I would still get the REx.nnPerhaps we should be lobbying the Highways Agency to specify that all service stations should include CCS/CHAdeMO/AC rapid chargers as part of these rules? nn

  • Matt Beard

    I assume that the frunk can close with the cable in place, effectively locking the plug.nnnAlso – what happened to that CHAdeMO plug in the picture (looks melted at the bottom and snapped at the top)

    • Well done for spotting it! The connector is indeed broken in that photograph, which is I think why we took it in the first place.

  • GCO

    Thanks for the info Nikki. While I’m glad BMW will accommodate the Japanese and likely other markets, indeed this setup seems very awkward, a kludgy afterthought. BMW has none but themselves to blame for this though, they definitely should have had provisions for a cleaner integration; hopefully they’ll do better on version two.nnCouple things regarding this article though:nn- Unless you were implying that BMW’s approach is broken, wouldn’t it be preferable to show an intact connector as the main illustration?nn- While CHAdeMO originated in Japan, today it is a ISO/IEC standard, ie international. Europe has officially approved its use.nn- You make it sound like only older and/or imported vehicles would have this connector (“Historically, cars from Japan…”). In reality, this is what 99%+ of existing quick-charge-capable EVs use or can use, regardless of where they are produced.nIt is supported by all 3 biggest players in this field, Renault-Nissan, Tesla and Mitsubishi.nn- The CHAdeMO connector is actually more compact than the Mennekes+DC combo, and by itself, easily fits in the same opening, or even a smaller one.nn- The number of quick-chargers you quote is too low, at least for the US. There were already 368 last May:

    • Thanks for this. CHAdeMO is found in the UK on Mitsubishi, Nissan. Type 2 Mennekes is on Tesla, Renault in the UK. But J1772 is also on UK cars… nnnAlso, strangely, your profile photo is showing as mine. Bug in the software?

  • all fast charging stations in the UK that I have visited have both chademo and css points so it will be like Unleaded and Diesel pumps and will make no difference to the actual process of charging your vehicle.