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Spark finds new use for phone boxes as electric vehicle chargers

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    • Town/City: Tauranga
    • Bike: BMW R100GS

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    Spark is turning some of its phone boxes into charging stations that can be used to top-up electric vehicles.

    The company has converted three phone boxes near Auckland into charging stations and will expand the network if they prove a hit and it can get the necessary consents.

    Spark believed the phone boxes would have been a “world first”, but for a similar trial that started in Europe after it had begun work on the idea.

    There are only 1015 electric vehicles (EVs) registered in New Zealand, but their number is expected to soar, assuming prices come down and the Government delivers on a promise it made last year to better encourage their uptake.

    Charging times are limited by the type of power supply at each phone box. Spark said its chargers would take about 30 minutes to deliver a charge that let EVs travel 20 kilometres.

    Rapid-chargers being installed by electricity companies such as Vector are able to fully recharge electric vehicles in about the same time.

    Spark’s charging stations will be free for now, for both Spark and non-Spark customers. Spokesman Sam Durbin said it would decide whether that would remain the case after its pilot.

    Spark Ventures chief executive Rod Snodgrass said its “Spark Plug” charging stations built on the work the company had done to turn more than 1000 of its phone booths into wi-fi hot spots.

    It was “another way to breathe new life into the humble phone box which has a reputation of being a bit out of date”, he said.

    “Electric vehicle drivers justifiably feel good about doing their bit for the environment, and we want to help that feeling last a little longer,” he said.


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