Think back to the last time you personally used a pay phone. Was it five years ago? Ten? In modern American society where cellphones and blackberries are ubiquitous, pay phones are as anachronistic as coal-fired furnaces and "ice boxes." The only people we associate with using pay phones regularly are those on the margins of society - sex workers, drug dealers, and the homeless who have no other option.
So one question arises: what do we do with all of those phone booths (that used to be in every public space) that we suddenly no longer need?
Luckily, one telecommunications firm in Austria, Telekom Austria, has successfully developed an innovative prototype that can transform old pay phone booths into functional electric vehicle charging stations for cars, bikes, and scooters. Telekom Austria hopes to convert 29 phone booths (out of that country's 13,500 booths) into EV charging stations by the end of 2010. It takes about 6.5 hours to recharge an electric car, 80 minutes to juice a scooter and only 20 minutes to charge an electric bicycle. Though today the company says there will be no fees for using its phone booth EV charging stations, Telekom Austria eventually hopes to charge a small user fee, payable by credit card or mobile phone, as it becomes more established.
Today Austria only has 223 registered electric vehicles, along with some 3,500 hybrids on its records. However, the Austrian motor vehicle association, VOeC, says that it expects the country to contain about 405,000 electric vehicles by the year 2020, which is when Telekom Austria’s innovation will be ideally poised to take off and become an established part of our infrastructure.
Via Inhabitat and Physorg