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Automaker unveils ergonomic EV "convenience cord"

A day after General Motors unveiled the Voltec station that will be used to charge the Chevrolet Volt, Ford has released images of its "convenience cord."

The US auto giant may be almost a year behind its rival in getting an electric vehicle to the road - the Ford Focus electric is set to debut in late 2011 - but it wants to make sure everything's perfect, right down to the charger.

Since Ford calculated that owners are likely to recharge their cars up to 1,500 times a year, the company's engineers have been working to make the experience as pleasant as possible.

That means an ergonomically-designed plug handle, charge port height and insertion angle, and a handle with a grip diameter "similar to a tennis racket handle."

Ford says that it considered products from Apple electronics to OXO kitchen utensils in deciding the look and feel of the plug, which is coated in matte-finish blue rubber and white plastics.

The cord is 25 meters long, can be spooled around its oval shaped base when not in use and will have a designated storage spot in the trunk of the Focus Electric.

With some estimates suggesting that green vehicles such as EVs and plug-in hybrids could account for up to a third of cars on the road within a decade, EV chargers are set to become big business and a common sight in homes and offices.

No wonder then that automakers are seeing the units are a critical extension of the brand and the EV experience, as Ford engineer Katie Pecoraro explains:

"We want our customers to have peace of mind knowing that their means of recharging the vehicle will be well designed and durable - just like the vehicle itself."