Sainsbury’s launches ultra-rapid charging network

The British supermarket's proprietary EV charging business, Smart Charge, will initially feature over 750 charging bays rolled out across over 100 stores by the end of 2024. Sainsbury's says it will be in the UK's top five fast charging providers.

Image: Sainsbury's

What is undoubtedly a first is that the supermarket will fully own and manage the charging network end-to-end and focus on ultra-rapid charging exclusively.

Hardware and technology to do this come from Kempower. The company’s chargers deliver 150 kW, providing enough power to travel up to 200 miles in about half an hour.

Many of the charging stations can also charge at higher charger speeds of up to 300kW if the car allows it, adds Kempower. Each charging station for the Smart Charge network features two connectors, primarily CCS, and “most of them” also offer CHAdeMo plugs, writes Sainsbury’s.

According to research commissioned by the supermarket chain among 500 EV drivers, 80% 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%). While 74% of EV users currently use multiple EV charging brands, a massive 94% said they would prefer to use just one trusted and reliable brand, adds the company, when announcing the new 750 charge bays.

So far, Smart Charge is available at just over 20 Sainsbury’s locations, offering a total of 200 charging stations.

The Smart Charge website quotes a flat rate of 75p per kWh paid by debit or credit card without requiring a subscription.

The company has yet to detail the locations and planned sites or the investment to be made.

All bays will be accessible 24 hours year-round, independent of Sainsbury’s store opening hours.

“Smart Charge will make a real difference to EV drivers in the UK,” said Patrick Dunne, Sainsbury’s Director of Property, Procurement, EV Ventures. “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.”

Said alternatives are offered by other British supermarket chains such as Tesco or Marks & Spencer (also ultra-rapid) and Lidl or Aldi across the UK, generally in partnership with CPOs.,


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