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Austria Converts Phone Booths To EV Chargers 161

Posted by samzenpus
from the calling-electricity dept.
separsons writes "Telekom Austria, a telecommunications company, aims to convert obsolete public phone booths into electric vehicle recharging stations. The company unveiled its first station yesterday in Vienna and hopes to create 29 more stations by the end of the year. The stations may not be super popular now, but they should be soon; Austria's motor vehicle association says the country will likely have 405,000 electric vehicles on the road by the year 2020."
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Austria Converts Phone Booths To EV Chargers

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  • by T Murphy (1054674) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @01:15AM (#32108244) Journal
    A company with outdated infrastructure changing it's business model to adapt to changing technology- all in a quick, relatively efficient process? Yeah, you've got to be pulling my leg.

    Wait, do you mean Corporate America isn't doing it right?
    • by masterwit (1800118) * on Thursday May 06, 2010 @01:26AM (#32108306) Journal

      But in future, payment, which is expected to cost a single-digit euro sum, will be via mobile phone, Ametsreiter said.

      Ah the irony...I personally welcome new healthy ideas into any market. (Free market with healthy regulation, whatever no political arguments needed here)

      Some more info:

      Telekom Austria's charging stations will leverage the group’s existing infrastructure: the company currently operates 13,500 telephone booths countrywide, of which 700 are multimedia stations. In the first phase, the focus will be on multimedia stations that offer on-street parking opportunities for electric vehicles. By installing additional charging points, each telephone booth will be able to recharge more than one vehicle at a time. By year-end 2010 a total of 30 charging stations will be on stream. According to a survey by Verkehsclub Osterreich, an association promoting environmentally sustainable, socially just and economically efficient mobility, the number of electric vehicles will significantly increase in Austria over the next few years, with e-scooters exceeding 60,000 and e-cars 115,000 by 2015.

      http://www.telegeography.com/cu/article.php?article_id=33006&email=html [telegeography.com]

      Yes they did not go out on a limb to invest in phone booths, but using existing architecture in an economically and environmentally friendly way to address an emerging market, nice.

    • by siloko (1133863)

      405000 electric cars on the roads in ten years time

      Yes, and with such accurate soothsayers in their midst what could possibly o wrong!

    • by am 2k (217885)

      As a customer of Telekom Austria, I can assure you that nothing about that company is quick and efficient. They're the former state-run monopoly.

      • by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy@gmaiELIOTl.com minus poet> on Thursday May 06, 2010 @03:45AM (#32108844)

        As a customer of Telekom Austria, I can assure you that nothing about that company is quick and efficient. They're the former state-run monopoly.

        People love to say this scornfully, but they seem not to realise that if "Telekom $SOME_COUNTRY" _wasn't_ a "former state-run monopoly" then if they didn't live within a hundred metres of their nearest neighbour they wouldn't even _have_ a phone service, and the mere idea of a practically free phone standing on the street would be absolutely laughable.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by am 2k (217885)

          True, but the deduction "formerly state-run" -> "extremely inefficient" shouldn't be as unfailing as it is.

          Though it has become better, Telekom Austria no longer sends three technicians to install a cable (two watching, one working).

          • by bhima (46039) *

            My experience with Telekom Austria and UPC/iNode has not been substantially different.. and actually not all that different from AT&T/Mindspring in America. So my feeling is that this is entrenched telecoms firms and not formerly state run firms.

            I'd love to get 24e (Fiber) but my property management company won't have anything to do with it.

        • As a customer of Telekom Austria, I can assure you that nothing about that company is quick and efficient. They're the former state-run monopoly.

          People love to say this scornfully, but they seem not to realise that if "Telekom $SOME_COUNTRY" _wasn't_ a "former state-run monopoly" then if they didn't live within a hundred metres of their nearest neighbour they wouldn't even _have_ a phone service, and the mere idea of a practically free phone standing on the street would be absolutely laughable.

          While I agree that government regulation (which generally means a monopoly) to ensure cost recovery (and profits) drives universal service since companies can provide service to uneconomic areas by subsidizing the costs; that does not mean it must be a state run monopoly. ATT in the US wasn't one; it didn't even start as a regulated monopoly.

          As with any regulation, the idea was to limit competition and thereby ensure profitability. Universal service was one by-product.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MemoryDragon (544441)

      Actually Telecom austria is also the biggest mobile phone provider in austria (and a big one in severeal eastern and southeastern european countries).
      Btw. also Austria has more mobile phone contracts than citizense due to the fact that mobile phone services there are dirt cheap and lots of people have more than one contract.

  • One question (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    What's a phone booth?

  • by Ancient_Hacker (751168) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @01:17AM (#32108256)

    Why, at that rate, they'll be able to simultaneously recharge 0.06% of the electric cars in the country!

    And with the usual 30 milliamp analog phone line current, it will only take about a dozen years to recharge each car.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Bob_Who (926234)

      ....And with the usual 30 milliamp analog phone line current, it will only take about a dozen years to recharge each car.

      Yeah, but think of all the roll over minutes!

    • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @01:42AM (#32108374) Homepage Journal

      Why, at that rate, they'll be able to simultaneously recharge 0.06% of the electric cars in the country!

      And with the usual 30 milliamp analog phone line current, it will only take about a dozen years to recharge each car.

      Phone booths in my country have lights for nighttime use so I suppose they have mains supply as well.

      • by dubbreak (623656)

        Phone booths in my country have lights for nighttime ...

        Ah yes, much easier to see the hookers when they are illuminated.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rogerborg (306625)

      Yes, I can do arithmetic too. 15 minutes charging a day * 405,000 vehicles = 101250 hours of charging a day, or 4218 charging stations. Except that number is a complete fantasy: the usage won't be spread neatly over 24 hours. There will be sharp peaks morning, mid-day and afternoon, plus concentrated demand in areas with a lot of rich ecoloons who think electricity is "clean" because the gas, oil and coal plants making it are located out in the sticks.

      Even with the best charge rates and distance-per-cha

      • by xaxa (988988)

        a lot of rich ecoloons who think electricity is "clean" because the gas, oil and coal plants making it are located out in the sticks.

        It is clean, from a local point of view. That's important, since pollution from petrol/diesel engines is a primary cause of respiratory illnesses.

        • by Rogerborg (306625)

          Welcome to 2010. It must be traumatic being unfrozen from that block of ice and all, but things have moved on a bit since 1972. Here in the future, if you're concerned about the local air quality, the best thing you can do is to suck it through a modern internal combustion engine and catalytic converter. It will literally clean the air for you.

          • by xaxa (988988)

            Then why do cars still smell? (Yes, including new ones.)

            • by Rogerborg (306625)
              If you can smell car exhausts, then you do not live in an area with significant air pollution. Next question.
      • by haruchai (17472)

        Math, incredibly useful as it is, is no substitute for imagination. There are lots of ways to deal with the need for charging stations and I'm cheered to see that there are at least some places in the world that are moving on this, unlike the pathetic efforts of my own country.

        As demand rises, I foresee parking lots, whether at work, shopping centers, wherever, installing quick-charge stations. And those gas stations will likely do it as well. I wonder if any of the auto manufacturers have electric car des

        • by Rogerborg (306625)
          Yes, I agree that imaginary charging stations are going to be the #1 response in most areas.
        • by Firethorn (177587)

          As demand rises, I foresee parking lots, whether at work, shopping centers, wherever, installing quick-charge stations.

          I keep figuring restaurants will be popular spots - Many gas stations will be the least popular. Right now gas stations are seperate due to infrastructure/safety requirements for a buried tank. But most gas stations I see don't have the space to handle the same number of cars if you go from 5 minute fill ups to even 15-30 minute 'quick charges'.

          I wonder if any of the auto manufacturers have electric car designs where the battery is quick-swappable?

          There's quite a few problems with this - I'd add in condition of the swapped battery. But there's another problem - EV batteries are heavy enough that you need a

          • by haruchai (17472)

            Better Place, the initiative started by former SAP exec Shai Agassi, is leaning towards leasing the batteries and have a recently launched taxi service in Tokyo that have quick-swap facilities.
            But, convenient as battery swapping would be, it will be a nightmare without standardization.

            http://blog.betterplace.com/2010/04/better-place-launches-switchable-battery-electric-taxis-in-tokyo-today/ [betterplace.com]

            • by Firethorn (177587)

              Taxis have the advantage that they're generally standardized, and most large taxi companies already have their own service departments. So they have a garage to install the equipment.

              For that matter they have the commerical incentive and miles driven in a year to justify the cost of the batteries; cost of capital doesn't add up as much when you're looking at replacing a battery within a year, not five-ten.

      • by tepples (727027) <tepples@nOSpAM.gmail.com> on Thursday May 06, 2010 @06:16AM (#32109344) Homepage Journal

        areas with a lot of rich ecoloons who think electricity is "clean" because the gas, oil and coal plants making it are located out in the sticks.

        The advantage of such "emissions displacement" is that it's a lot easier to clean the emissions from one big stationary engine than thousands of mobile engines.

        • by Rogerborg (306625)

          Sure, if you ignore that fossil plants will always lag 30 years behind vehicle technology because of their replacement schedules, we can all breathe unicorn farts and pixie burps.

          The internal combustion engines that currently exist are so much cleaner and more efficient than the powerplants that that currently exist that electric vehicles are an environmental nightmare.

          We can talk again in 30 years, m'kay?

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by drinkypoo (153816)

            The internal combustion engines that currently exist are so much cleaner and more efficient than the powerplants that that currently exist that electric vehicles are an environmental nightmare.

            You are completely and totally wrong. Internal combustion engines used in automobiles top out around 25% efficiency. Electric motors used in cars top out around 95% efficient, and they're even over 90% efficient when acting as a generator (during regenerative braking.)

            We can talk again in 30 years, m'kay?

            In thirty years, you might be right; we might be driving EVs.

            • >You are completely and totally wrong. Internal combustion engines used in automobiles top out around 25% efficiency. Electric motors used in cars top out around 95% efficient, and they're even over 90% efficient when acting as a generator (during regenerative braking.)

              Uh, you forgot about the other parts of the electricy-delivery cycle:: Power plants: 35%. Distribution system: 90%. Rectifiers/chargers: 90%. Battery charging: 80%. By the time you multiply those out, you're down to about 18% effic

              • by drinkypoo (153816)

                Uh, you forgot about the other parts of the electricy-delivery cycle:: Power plants: 35%. Distribution system: 90%. Rectifiers/chargers: 90%. Battery charging: 80%. By the time you multiply those out, you're down to about 18% efficiency, not all that different than a IC engine.

                Modern power plants are over 40%. Distribution is 95% in the USA. Battery charging (including rectification) can be well over 95% for Li-Ion. Even without regenerative braking in most cases modern EVs beat the living shit out of even the best ICEs. The new generation of regenerative braking systems using flywheels and/or capacitors has the potential to drastically improve this for city driving, but we won't see those systems in EVs for another, uh, generation. And going forward with liquid fuels, probably t

                • > Microturbines have the potential to easily be twice as efficient as ICEs.

                  Citation needed, and I don't mean the Chevy model.

                  Gas turbines have been under development now for 120 years. Efficiency flat-lined about 40 years ago, as the basic Carnot temperature and heat-exchange limits were hit. The only way to bump up efficiency would be to up the hot-section temperatures, and they're already running those within 25 degrees of the melting point of the very best alloys.

                  The efficiencies you allude to are

                  • by drinkypoo (153816)

                    The efficiencies you allude to are the pi-in-the-sky, in the laboratory, cost and maintenance are no object, open-loop, fixed-speed, optimum temp conditions.

                    Let's do it over and over again until we actually get there, then. The nice thing about a series hybrid is that you can run the turbine at optimum speed.

                    In the real world, turbines have less than optimal clearances, less than perfect balancing, temperature restrictions, temperature versus life restrictions, have to operate in closed-loop cycles, with variable and unpredictable power demands, and over bumpy roads and subject to dust, dirt, crosswinds across the intake, and abrupt accelerations, not to mention cost restrictions.

                    There are many examples of affordable microturbines already. None of them have these efficiencies — yet. They do have numerous benefits however, not least that several of them are multifuel-capable.

                    Your basic high-tech turbine has a cost in the high tens of thousands-- never practical in a vehicle that has to leave the factory costing less than $10,000 and able to go 100,000 miles.

                    Most vehicles have parts with a service lifetime of less than 100,000 miles, and there's plenty of market for vehicles which cost more than $10,000 to put

                    • >et's do it over and over again until we actually get there, then.

                      You just don't get it. There are basic thermodynamic limits. They've been pushing these limits hard at a cost of billions a year, and not making any progress for the last 40 years.

                      >There are many examples of affordable microturbines already.

                      Links needed. I haven't seen any for under $30,000 or under $900 / HP and none with the efficiencies you claim. A lot of the efficiency numbers quoted assume you're using the waste heat to hea

      • by Locklin (1074657)

        A fleet of electrics will easily have "ten times as many" charging stations as an equivalent gas fleet would have gas stations. Of course, most charging stations cost $1k and would be located in the car's overnight parking location (garage, corporate lot, etc.) Gas stations cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and require at least one staff whenever operational. There's no problem replacing one gas station with ten charging stations. Public stations like this would likely be used when an extra charge is ne

  • by lordlod (458156) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @01:26AM (#32108300)

    I understand their desire to reuse the prime real estate they have for their phone boxes and convert it into a new profitable market.

    However in this case I'm not sure it will actually be so useful. Typically you position phone boxes in pedestrian heavy areas where people can see them and use them. Normally you would want recharging stations in car parks, where cars like to hang out for extended periods of time. Do you really want to base your business model over having cars parked beside the road in busy streets for 6.5 hours at a time? Looking at the phone booth in the picture there doesn't even seem space for a single car to stop.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by j-stroy (640921)
      This could work, so long as they surround the car parks with a high kangaroo fence...
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by MichaelSmith (789609)

        This could work, so long as they surround the car parks with a high kangaroo fence...

        Austria not Australia.

        Though for all I know they have a few Kangaroos in Austria too.

        • This could work, so long as they surround the car parks with a high kangaroo fence...

          Veeery funny. We Austrians have t-shirts explaining the difference because we're sick of talking ourselves black in the face.

          • by quenda (644621)

            We Austrians have t-shirts explaining the difference because we're sick of talking ourselves black in the face.

            You actually wear those? I thought they were only for selling to amused Australian backpackers who got lost on the way to Oktoberfest.

    • A lot of phone booths are next to the road, so that people can call a cab.

      As to charging time, I would have thought they'll be more like battery swapping stations - take out your empty one, insert a charged one.

      But who knows, I'm just guessing.

    • Actually the austrian situation is different, the mobile phone usage is more than 100% since literally everyone has one contract and a lot of people have more than one.
      The phone boxes over the last decade have been severely reduced, some have been dedicated to internet / telephone stations...
      I think the charging is first thought as charging station for electricity powered bikes and other small vehicles.

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      This company does not want to make a usable EV recharger network, they just want to be part of it. They want to transform what they already have into something that can make marginal money instead of costing some money.
    • by am 2k (217885)

      Actually, here in Austria you have parking cars everywhere, so that doesn't really apply. In my area the usual time spent looking for a parking space is about 20mins, and I have a phone booth right around the corner.

      Of course, I wonder how a electric car should ever catch a parking space in this booth's general area. You'd probably have to wait for a few hours to get it, and then I'd advise against ever forfeiting the spot again.

  • Its the only way I can think of getting some value out of zillions of mini 6 x 6 lots with booth enclosure and electrical feeds.

    • I would prefer that we convert the phone booths to mobile phone, iPod, etc ie gadget charging stations.

      May need to offer some lockable lockers with chargers similar to what they offer at music festivals. But not sure terror / vandal paranoid people would accept that.

      I have to admit I still use phone booths, but only as a quiet place to talk on my mobile...

      • by fizzup (788545)

        I have to admit I still use phone booths, but only as a quiet place to talk on my mobile...

        And to smell pee.

  • bikes, not cars? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by serps (517783) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @01:48AM (#32108398) Homepage

    Seems more practical to recharge bikes (either electric-assisted, or motorcycles), rather than cars.

    • You can physically get a bike closer to the telephone box than you can a car.
    • You can fill a bike battery an appreciable amount in an hour, given the system's power generation constraints.
    • You can fit a bunch of charging bikes around a box with bike rack technology
    • There's thousands of bike riders in that country already, unlike the car-heavy US
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)

      Well the title does say Electric Vehicle Chargers

    • by Locklin (1074657)

      Seems more practical to recharge bikes (either electric-assisted, or motorcycles), rather than cars.

      This would also be ideal for bike-share systems like the successful Bixi [bixisystem.com] in Montreal. You need the power to run the bike dock and pay station. Some of these systems (not Bixi) also rent out pre-charged e-bikes.

    • Exactly. This could well be about electric bikes. A lot of those are being sold here in austria at the moment (also with government subsidies I think) and they are advertised all over the place... so my guess is that electric bikes/scooters will be widespread well before electric cars.
  • Telekom Austria is a telecommunications company?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by alchemy101 (961551)
      Some of us can't understand an Australian accent you insensitive clod!
      • Ahnold (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tepples (727027)
        But is an Austrian accent like the Governator's any easier?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702)
          Interesting factoid: Arnold Schwarzenegger asked if he would be allowed to do the voice-over for the Austrian translation of The Terminator. He was denied.

          Apparently, Arnie has a somewhat colloquial accent in his home country, somewhat akin to the deep south in the US, or Norfolk in the UK. He sounds like a farmer.

          "I need your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle" takes on an entirely different slant when you say it like a hick. Brokeback Terminator.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Ant P. (974313)

      This is Slashdot. Some people would make a serious complaint if that was left out.

  • by mindbrane (1548037) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @04:04AM (#32108930) Journal
    A handful of years ago I gave some thought to some business ideas that could make use of phone booths. I wondered if they could be viably transformed into secure, internet transaction booths, keeping the coin payment system as an option to CC payment. Phone booths have a high profile/key location thing going for them that's just waiting for the right entrepreneurial insight.
  • Where will Superman change his costume?

  • we've done something similar: we've converted rarely used phone booths into thriving restrooms.

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