Sainsbury’s invests in trucks powered by kinetic energy

As part of its net-zero commitment, Sainsbury's has purchased 1,200 lithium-ion trucks powered by kinetic energy, in a move that will save energy equivalent to powering 700 UK homes.

Sainsbury’s invests in trucks powered by kinetic energy

The investment will also cut maintenance costs for the retailer

Sainsbury’s is replacing all its lead-acid battery manual handling trucks with lithium-ion and pro lifter pallet trucks provided by Toyota. These trucks will be powered by kinetic energy to help the retailer cut back on energy usage.

The replacement programme will see 1,200 trucks provided by Toyota, which is the car manufacturer’s largest European deal to date. Sainsbury’s claims it is the first UK supermarket to make the switch to lithium trucks.

Sainsbury’s head of facilities management Danny Malyon said: “We’re constantly striving to work as efficiently as possible as well as pioneering new ways to work more sustainably. The new fleet will ensure our store colleagues have improved access to very important equipment for them to undertake their work, while significantly reducing the energy used. This new manual handling equipment will make a big difference to store operations, our maintenance bill and our energy consumption overall.

“The pro lifter provides enhanced manoeuvrability of heavier loads through kinetic energy compared to a manual pump truck, plus requires no charging. The new lithium trucks also cut down our charging requirements by up to six and a half hours and include telemetric capacity to provide us with valuable information.”

Sainsbury’s expects that over a 12-month period the vehicle replacement will save energy equivalent to powering 700 average-sized UK homes. The investment will also cut maintenance costs for the retailer.


The trucks will assist Sainsbury’s net-zero ambition. In January, Sainsbury’s pledged to invest £1bn in order to become a net-zero business across its own operations.

The investment will cover Sainsbury’s Scope 1 and 2 emissions and the retailer will work with the Carbon Trust to set science-based targets. The retailer’s current carbon footprint is one million tonnes, which is a 35% absolute reduction in the last 15 years despite the size of the company increasing by 46% over the same timeframe.

Sainsbury’s will work with suppliers to help them set individual net-zero commitments.

The retailer has previously invested £260m across more than 3,000 sustainability initiatives in the past 10 years, including a nationwide LED lighting programme – by the end of 2022, all Sainsbury’s stores will be 100% lit by LED – and a focus on natural refrigerants.

Sainsbury’s will now work to increase its use of renewable energy use while reducing energy consumption. Natural refrigerants will continue to be scaled up across stores and 20% of the company’s fleet will use low-carbon or zero-carbon fuels by 2025.

Matt Mace

Comments (3)

  1. Ian Byrne says:

    Kinetic energy is simply the energy of bodies in motion. With that in mind, this article doesn’t make sense, unless Sainsburys & Toyota have found a perpetual motion machine.
    I suspect they are trying to tell us that the kinetic energy during operation is used (in part) to recharge the lithium-ion batteries (regenerative braking), whereas with the previous lead-acid batteries energy was simply lost in braking (as low grade heat). But really, edie, unless you are trying to discredit Sainsburys by publishing such a garbled press release, I would have hoped to see some editing to try and make sense if it!

  2. Roger Horne says:

    But where does the kinetic energy originate?. This article appears to be attempting to mislead us, which I’m sure is not edie’s intention. Does the lithium ion battery capture energy as loads are lowered, (comparable to regenerative braking)? I presume that the trucks are charged from the mains just like the existing lead-acid batteries, but are more efficient because of the energy that is not wasted as loads are lowered.

  3. Ian Byrne says:

    I was discussing the source of the kinetic energy online with a colleague and we both felt that it was simply likely to be regenerative braking partially recharging the batteries, rather than being dissipated in waste heat. Not exactly a new technology!

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