Sainsbury's charging

Sainsbury’s says its EV charging business, Smart Charge, is the first to be fully owned and managed end-to-end by a UK supermarket

Sainsbury’s has today launched Smart Charge, a dedicated EV charging business that will allow customers to charge their electric vehicles (EVs) at ultra-rapid charging points while they shop.

It says that Smart Charge is the first and only EV charging business to be fully owned and managed ”end-to-end” by a UK supermarket.

Wth Kempower supplying the technology and equipment, from 12 January Sainsbury’s has begun operating around 200 ultra-rapid charging bays at just over 20 locations, open 24 hours, 365 days a year. It has plans to extend this number to over 750 ultra-rapid charging bays at more than 100 stores by the end of 2024, which the supermarket says puts it in the top five providers of ultra-rapid charging in the UK.

Research commissioned by Sainsbury’s shows that 80% of EV drivers admitted to avoiding long journeys because of not wanting to charge at public EV charging stations, describing the main frustrations as chargers being broken (40%), not enough charging bays (36%), and speed of service (33%). A third of EV drivers said they were yet to use ultra-rapid charging, the fastest type of EV charging currently available on the market.

While 74% of EV users use multiple EV charging brands, 94% said they would prefer to use just one trusted and reliable brand. When asked why, the top reasons included reliability (63%), convenience when planning long trips (54%), and awareness of cost upfront (53%).

Patrick Dunne, Sainsbury’s director of property, procurement & EV ventures, says as EV ownership grows, the initiative will be a  “game changer” for EV drivers “suffering range anxiety”, putting off long journeys because of the fear of insufficient availability of chargepoints en route.

“With our new network of easy-to-use and reliable charging points conveniently located in our supermarkets, Smart Charge will make a real difference to EV drivers in the UK. As one of the few providers to be focusing exclusively on cutting-edge ultra-rapid 150kW+chargers, customers can be in and out in as little as half an hour and avoid waiting longer with less powerful alternatives. What’s more, they can even grab a coffee or pick up some groceries while they’re there,” he says.

“We’re committed to helping to reduce carbon emissions and offering a national EV charging service forms part of this pledge. Our new charging points are powered by the same 100% renewable electricity that powers the rest of our estate.”

Anthony Browne, Minister for Technology and Decarbonisation, says: “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.

“Together with industry we’ve supported the installation of over 52,600 chargepoints across the UK, an increase of 44% from last year.”

Sainsbury’s says the launch represents another step in its ambitious commitment to achieving net zero across its chain by 2050.