Perhaps not as exciting as electric cars these days, it’s the chargers that are actually leading the change. When we first wrote about coming electric cars two years ago, one of the biggest hurdles to consumer adoption was the need to buy a charger, which then cost an average of $2,000 to install. Now that cost is coming down dramatically.
Last January, Ford announced it would begin selling a charger that can be plugged into a 240-volt clothes-dryer outlet for $1,400. Yesterday, Toyota announced in a conference call that it will begin selling a charger (along with its upcoming Plug-in Prius) for $999, including basic installation. Like other automakers, if you buy a Plug-in Prius, Toyota will still send an electrician to your house to see what's necessary for installation. Some setups may cost more.
By themselves, electric car chargers cost between $700 and $1,400. But most have to be professionally installed by a licensed electrician. The chargers need a dedicated 240-volt, at least 30-amp circuit. It could be a simple installation job for a professional electrician if you have a garage or car port. Or it could be a $3,000 job to trench a conduit out to your detached garage or the end of your driveway. Having an EV manufacturer pick up the cost of installation removes a huge risk to consumers interested in buying an electric car.
Spokesman Ed LaRoque also announced that Toyota will begin taking orders for the plug-in Prius later this month, and it will begin delivering the cars in 14 states starting in March. Following that, the plug-in will roll out nationally in 2013.
LaRoque claims the car will have a range of 15 miles on electric power, a top electric speed of 62 mph, and will recharge in an hour and a half on a 240-volt charger (and 2.5 to 3 hours on a standard household outlet.)