We doubt AeroVironment wants to put electric-vehicle charging-station installers out of business, but the company's new product does give plug-in drivers, not to mention a few retailers, the option of skipping the part where you call a contractor. Meet the TurboCord.

The company calls TurboCord "the world's first dual-wattage cordset" and says no charger installation process is needed. That's because the cord, which weighs less than five pounds (including the 20-foot-long cord) plugs directly into a standard electrical socket and can operate at both 120 and 240 volts, depending on the versions you buy. The dual-voltage TurboCord retails for $649 while the 240-volt only version is priced at $599.

AeroVironment even includes a chart (available here) that shows how the TurboCord is something of an electric vehicle owner's happy medium for charging between standard 120-volt charging and a 240-volt Level 2 charger. For instance, a TurboCord can fully charge a Nissan Leaf in 6.3 hours, compared to 16.7 hours on a 120-volt system and 3.6 hours via Level 2. The reason lies in what's in the wall. The TurboCord requires a NEMA 6-20 receptacle, while, for example, Aerovironment's EVSE-RS home charging unit uses a NEMA 6-50.

The company most recently made news in these parts when AeroVironment inked a deal with Fiat last summer to be its preferred supplier for the all-electric Fiat 500e. AeroVironment has also struck deals with Nissan, BMW, Mitsubishi and Ford. Check out AeroVironment's press release below.
Show full PR text
AeroVironment Transforms EV Charging with New, Easy and Convenient TurboCord;

World's First Dual-Voltage Cordset Delivers Unmatched Charging Versatility

· Portable plug-in charger increases range confidence, reduces costs to drivers, workplaces, businesses and governments
· Fits in palm of hand; plugs directly into electrical socket; no charger installation required; weighs less than five pounds, including 20-foot cord
· Operates on 120 or 240 volts; at 240 volts it charges nearly three times faster than standard cordsets – less than three hours for plug-in hybrids and less than six hours for full battery electrics
· UL listed with state-of-the-art safety features, including indoor and outdoor use, highest waterproof NEMA 6P ratings, and thermal sensors

MONROVIA, Calif., Jan. 30, 2014 – AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ:AVAV), a leader in electric vehicle charging and the preferred home charging solution supplier for five global automakers, today unveiled TurboCord™ – a compact, UL-listed, dual mode 240-volt/16-amperage and 120-volt portable charging cordset (MSRP $649) that sets a new standard for EV charging. TurboCord is also available in a 240-volt only version (MSRP $599).

"TurboCord is very compact, light, powerful and delivers unmatched charging versatility. It will empower drivers to make the transition easily from gas-powered cars to electric vehicles because it simplifies the charging process and can reduce costs significantly," said Wahid Nawabi, senior vice president and general manager of AeroVironment's Efficient Energy Systems business segment.

TurboCord is packed with features that EV owners care most about and expect from AeroVironment. It requires no charger installation - you just plug it in – potentially saving consumers thousands of dollars. AeroVironment's engineers designed TurboCord with key safety features, such as waterproofing for indoor and outdoor charging, all-environment operation and built-in thermal sensors for protection against faulty wiring or inadequate power. And it puts the power of charging into the hands of the EV owner because they can take it with them and charge more rapidly away from home.

TurboCord weighs less than five pounds and plugs directly into the electrical outlet. It has an easy-to-see LED indicator and no buttons. Its miniaturized electronics and safety features are housed in a compact package that also incorporates the plug. Safety is built into every TurboCord, which is UL (Underwriters Laboratory) listed and incorporates patent-pending technology that monitors the internal temperature of the unit as well as the wall outlet connection, to ensure safe and reliable charging. It is outdoor-rated, watertight with the highest waterproof NEMA 6P rating and durability tested.

Nawabi said another feature EV owners will especially like is that AeroVironment has eliminated the "pigtail" that comes with other cordsets. On one end of the cord there is a small and rugged module that contains all of the miniaturized electronics, which plugs directly into the wall outlet. On the other end of the cord is the coupler that plugs into the car. With TurboCord, an EV driver does not have to contend with the clunky and heavy box on the cord between the vehicle and the wall socket that is found on other cordsets, which can pose safety hazards.

According to Nawabi, TurboCord is a winner for everyone – the EV owner, host businesses and car dealers. "TurboCord will deliver that extra convenience many people are looking for before deciding to drive home from a dealer in an EV, especially when automakers include it in the trunks of new cars," he said. "A salesperson can open the trunk on the lot and tell the prospective buyer they can go home and start charging that same night if they have a 120-volt or 240-volt outlet at their home. A similar outlet at their workplace can allow them to drive their EV even farther."

Nawabi said he expects business owners and retail outlets will quickly discover how easy and cost-effective it is to install 240-volt outlets at their locations so their employees and customers can take advantage of TurboCord.

Using TurboCord, drivers can charge a Nissan LEAF or Fiat 500e in less than six hours. A Ford C-Max Energi plug-in and other plug-in hybrid vehicles can charge in less than three hours. AeroVironment anticipates that TurboCord will be especially appealing to plug-in hybrid owners. "Research shows that plug-in hybrid owners are charging wherever they can to squeeze out more electric miles to avoid using gasoline. TurboCord's portability and power are perfect for these drivers because they now have the option to charge faster with our dual-voltage cordset," said Nawabi.

TurboCord will save EV owners money. If owners already have a NEMA 6-20R 240-volt outlet near their desired charging location, then it's as easy as plugging in and charging; no installation required. If they do not have a NEMA 6-20R outlet, an electrician can install one for as little as $250. TurboCord is now available for purchase on Amazon.com or AeroVironment's website TurboCord.com.

AeroVironment is a pioneering "EVolution" leader with decades of experience in delivering complete EV charging solutions. In 1989, the company co-developed the first modern-day electric car, the GM Impact. It spent the next two decades creating charging systems and test systems designed to make EVs and EV charging more practical. Today, AeroVironment is a leading supplier of high-power test systems used worldwide by automakers and advanced battery manufacturers to develop the next generation of electric vehicles and EV charging stations.

About AeroVironment, Inc.

AeroVironment is a technology solutions provider that designs, develops, produces, supports and operates an advanced portfolio of electric transportation solutions and electric-powered Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). AeroVironment's comprehensive EV charging solutions include EV home charging, public charging, fast charging, data collection, grid-integrated communications and complete installation, training and support services for consumers, automakers, utilities, government agencies and businesses. AeroVironment's industrial electric vehicle charging systems support thousands of electric materials handling vehicles in mission-critical supply chains for Fortune 500 enterprises. AeroVironment's power cycling and test systems provide EV developers and EV battery manufacturers with market-leading simulation and cycling capabilities. Agencies of the U.S. Department of Defense and allied military services use the company's electric-powered, hand-launched unmanned aircraft systems to provide situational awareness to tactical operating units through real-time, airborne reconnaissance, surveillance and communication. More information is available at www.avinc.com and www.evsolutions.com.

###

Safe Harbor Statement

Certain statements in this press release may constitute "forward-looking statements" as that term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are made on the basis of current expectations, forecasts and assumptions that involve risks and uncertainties, including, but not limited to, economic, competitive, governmental and technological factors outside of our control, that may cause our business, strategy or actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to; the activities of competitors; failure of the markets in which we operate to grow; failure to expand into new markets; failure to develop new products or integrate new technology with current products; and general economic and business conditions in the United States and elsewhere in the world. For a further list and description of such risks and uncertainties, see the reports we file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. We do not intend, and undertake no obligation, to update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 20 Comments
      danfred311
      • 10 Months Ago
      Glorified extension cord. Like I told you.
        danfred311
        • 10 Months Ago
        @danfred311
        really? minus 8? because you hate it when I'm right? petty people
      MTN RANGER
      • 10 Months Ago
      Another problem I see is the bulky plug. It will not fit waterproof/hooded electrical boxes I have used with my portable 120V EVSE.
        Rotation
        • 10 Months Ago
        @MTN RANGER
        It should fit the type which have the single large opening. That's the modern type. It won't fit the old type with the two flip covers.
          Rotation
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Rotation
          I should mention in one of their videos they show it in use with an outlet with a weather hood. Maybe not the kind of weather hood you have. Look at 1:03 in this video. http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/video?id=9415484#
      danfred311
      • 10 Months Ago
      And it can be much smaller still and the price is of course still ridiculous.
      Rotation
      • 10 Months Ago
      I've been looking at this thing since last week. I even made some NEMA 6-20 to 6-50, 14-30/50 and 10/30 adapters in the last couple days. But I can't bring myself to buy it. This product really doesn't have a ton of sale value. With only a NEMA 6-20, which no one has installed anywhere, you can't use it for hunt the plug when stranded in the field. The most important plugs for it to have are 5-15, 14-30 and 10-30. Next would be 14-50 and then even further down 6-50 and 10-50. 6-20 is by far the lowest on the totem pole. I think connecting it to more than 20A input is against UL, above 20A, all devices are supposed to be keyed to the current they need (within ranges). A device that only needs 20A isn't supposed to have a plug on it that connects to 30 or 50A outlets. But for use in the field, having 10-30, 14-30 (dryer outlets) is key, as well as 14-50 since you can use RV power plugs. 6-20 is only really good if you plan to install a new plug at home for it. And I can't really recommend anyone install only a 20A circuit for an EVSE, given that even if your current EV/PHEV only has 16A charging, your next one likely will have more. I do like how it is shaped/sized and the plugs located such that it sits right over a 6-20 or 5-15/20 outlet. That means it will work on outlets with rain protection. AeroVironment should be working hard to get this made the included portable EVSEs for PHEVs (which currently only go to 15A anyway). Buy I think success at retail will hinge on making a new version that supports enough input plug types to play "hunt the plug". It'll probably require having a 20A fuse/breaker in any 30 or 50A adapter, but it'd be worth it.
        Spec
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Rotation
        That's a big 10-4, buddy. Jeez, how do you know all those NEMA outlets?
      Levine Levine
      • 10 Months Ago
      No matter what the charger manufactures brag about their rate of charging, basically the charge rate is determined by the amperage of the circuit. Fancy cable design does little to change this fact. A 20 amp AC circuit will charge your car slower than 50 amp AC circuit. A double phase circuit will nearly half your charging time than a single phase. Since a DC charger outputs a smoother current than the inverted current of an AC charger, it is a much more efficient charger, and you'll save time with a DC charger. But there's no free lunch; you'll pay extra for a DC charger.
        Rotation
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Levine Levine
        That is not why DC chargers are faster. Or more accurately, it's not why faster chargers are DC.
      David Murray
      • 10 Months Ago
      Still, its a rather clunky looking design. And I can't see many people buying it for the 120V operation being that their car should have already come with such a cord. And even for 240 volt operation, I can't see paying $649 for this device when I can get my existing 120V unit upgraded for less than half that amount.
        • 10 Months Ago
        @David Murray
        While I agree with all your statements, keep in mind that the EVSEupgrade unit is NOT UL approved. That doesn't mean it's not safe (I have one myself), but some people are really sensitive about this. As mentioned in my other post, even the ClipperCreek LCS-25 is a better value, it's cheaper and can charge faster.
        Rotation
        • 10 Months Ago
        @David Murray
        Some people's EVSEs break or they want a smaller or more flexible one. Or they want to leave an EVSE at home instead of loading theirs into their car every time to use other places. And if you have a car with only 3.3kW charging capability, this is perfectly suitable for home use.
        otiswild
        • 10 Months Ago
        @David Murray
        I wouldn't like to try getting a modified/upgraded EVSE past my insurance company, alas..
      • 10 Months Ago
      Just a friendly note ... Keep in mind that in most people will still need to call an installer/contractor, as the cord is only 20 feet long, and I don't think too many people have a 6-20 outlet installed already. Also, this product is a Level 2 EVSE, it just charges at 3.3 kWh (which matches the max charging speed of the Chevy Volt, Toyota Prius Plug-in, the older Nissan LEAF, the newer LEAF without the charge package, etc.), while some newer vehicles such as the Honda Fit EV, 2013+ LEAF with the Charge package can charge @ 6 kWh speeds. 'Level 2' refers to the interface (J1772/208-240V), not the charging speed. I also recommend people look at the ClipperCreek Level 2 portable EVSE (better bang for the buck), or upgrade the OEM unit (best bang for the buck) via the EVSEupgrade website.
        Rotation
        • 10 Months Ago
        The ClipperCreek is enormous compared to this thing. And it doesn't do 120V. It's just not a proper substitute.
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Rotation
          Enormous? Maybe we are talking about a different unit, as the LCS-25 is about the same size as the 1st gen LEAF OEM EVSE. As for the 120V, your car already ships with that one, why spend a premium on something you already have?
          Rotation
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Rotation
          ChargeNY: Yep. We're talking about the same item. It's enormous compared to this thing. Why spend a premium? So I don't have to carry TWO items the size of my original LEAF OEM EVSE around in my car. That one alone is large enough I don't carry it. Twice as large is noticeably worse. For portable items, there is a value to being smaller and having more functionality. And doing both even more so.
        Naturenut99
        • 10 Months Ago
        Agree with you on the evseupgrade product. Love mine. But to be a little picky... Re:"Level 2' refers to the interface (J1772/208-240V)" J1772 handles both L1 and L2. J1772 is the specs for the EVSE's and how it communicates with the car. L2 is regarding the general voltage. Like you said 208-240v. L1: 110-120 L2: 208-240 At whatever amps the car will accept and that the outlet can deliver.
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Naturenut99
          Right, I was just trying to address the confusion in the article (or at least, that's what it felt like). Level 2 usually refers to J1772, but yes, in reverse, J1772 is used for Level 1 as well. The article made it sound like there were 3 options options available (ignoring Fast DC of course). Just a matter of phrasing. "For instance, a TurboCord can fully charge a Nissan Leaf in 6.3 hours, compared to 16.7 hours on a 120-volt system and 3.6 hours via Level 2."
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