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Affordable cable makes juicing up electric cars fast and easy

Optional model will even charge on standard 110-volt outlets

Published: June 05, 2014 11:00 AM
Photo: AeroVironment

The whole point of electric cars is that infrastructure already exists to re-energize this petroleum alternative. Find an outlet, plug it in, and  charge up. Yet electric car buyers are spending sometimes thousands of dollars installing dedicated electric car chargers. Now, they may not have to.

In response to garage tinkerers in electric car clubs, who began modifying the 110-volt (Level 1) charge cords that come with electric cars so they could be plugged into standard 220-volt electric clothes-dryer outlets, AeroVironment has introduced the TurboCord. It’s the same concept, only certified for sale and meeting all legal safety requirements.

Unlike a hard-wired Level 2 EVSE charger, the TurboCord costs $599, with no installation charge—assuming you already have a 220-volt outlet near where you park. That’s about what an additional or replacement 110-volt charge cord costs for a Chevrolet Volt. For an extra $50, you can get the TurboCord Dual, which has an adapter for 110-volt outlets. That way, you can take advantage of the fastest available charging whenever the opportunity presents itself.

The TurboCord is 20 feet long and charges at up to 20 amps. So while it can’t take advantage of the really fast on-board chargers on cars such as the Ford Focus Electric or the Nissan Leaf SV or SL, it’s faster than some hard-wired EVSEs.

All that said, many of our testers found it a pain to unpack and recoil a portable charge cord every time we wanted to plug in at home overnight. And the cost of built-in home chargers is coming down. Still, this seems like a no-brainer option for those who want an affordable alternative to a wall-mounted charging station, or the flexibility to take high-powered charging on the road, in case the opportunity presents itself.

See our guide to alternative fuels and cars.

Eric Evarts

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