Sainsbury’s launches new EV charging business

Supermarket Sainsbury’s has launched a new electric vehicle (EV) charging business in a bid to “provide an exciting new service” for shoppers, in tandem with the electrification of its own fleet.

Sainsbury’s launches new EV charging business

Image: Sainsbury's

The business, called Smart Charge, will initially operate 750 ultra-rapid charging bays in supermarket car parks. These bays should be in operation by the end of the year.

These charging bays will feature 150kW charging infrastructure capable of providing a full charge for many popular pure-electric car and van models within as little as 30 minutes. Up to 300kW speeds will be made available at most of the locations for vehicles with batteries capable of accepting this higher speed.

Polls of 500 EV drivers in the UK conducted by Sainsbury’s revealed the slow speed of service to be a top-three concern.

The surveys also revealed that one-third of drivers were frustrated with having to wait and do nothing while charging, and would prefer to charge at a shopping location or café like those operated by Sainsbury’s.

Sainsbury’s’ director of property, procurement and EV ventures Patric Dunne hopes that Smart Charge “will make a real difference to EV drivers in the UK” due to ease-of-use, speed and reliability.

The retailer hopes to make Smart Charge the UK’s leading charging brand; its research found that three-quarters of EV drivers currently use multiple charging brands, but that more than nine in ten would prefer to use just one.

Commenting on the news, the UK Government’s Minister for Technology and Decarbonisation, Anthony Browne, said: “Together with industry we’ve supported the installation of over 52,600 chargepoints across the UK, an increase of 44% from last year.

“Businesses play a crucial role in the delivery of EV infrastructure, so it’s great to see Sainsbury’s embracing ultra-rapid technology which will benefit EV drivers.”

The UK Government is aiming for Britain to host at least 300,000 public EV charging points by the end of the decade.

EV charging partnerships

In related news, public transport operator First Bus has announced a new EV charging partnership with the UK’s largest broadband network provider, Openreach.

Under the partnership, Openreach will be able to access First Bus’s nationwide network of rapid chargers at electrified bus depots. Some 30 Openreach vehicles, operating in and around Glasgow, Aberdeen and Leicester, will be the first to use the chargers, with a wider rollout planned for the near future.

First Bus said in a statement that it is “keen to harness its EV infrastructure to help support local communities and businesses reach their own environmental aspirations”. It has already opened some of its infrastructure to other partners such as DPD and Police Scotland, who charge their vehicles while buses are in service.

“The shift to electric is a journey for businesses nationwide, and we are offering a smart, community-friendly solution that’s simple, effective and benefits everyone,” said First Bus’s decarbonisation programme director Faizan Ahmad.

First Bus is aiming to transition its whole UK-based fleet to zero-emissions models by 2035. This target covers some 4,500 buses.

Openreach, for its part, operates more than 3,000 EVs in the UK at present. It is aiming to convert all its remaining diesel vehicles to models with zero tailpipe emissions by 2031.

“There are many hurdles on the low carbon journey, and businesses need to join forces to overcome them, help drive wider adoption of EVs and talk to the Government on issues like charging infrastructure availability,” said Openreach Scotland’s partnership director Robert Thorburn.

Hear more from First Bus in our new, on-demand EV webinar

First Bus’s decarbonisation programme director Faizan Ahmad spoke on an edie webinar on fleet electrification earlier this week, alongside experts from PHS Group, with both businesses presenting learnings on EV adoption from their real experiences.

A recording of this 45-minute online masterclass is now available to access free, on-demand at your convenience. Click here to access the recorded event.

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie