Waitrose trialling wireless charged electric vans in London

High-end supermarket chain Waitrose is to become the first supermarket in the UK to trial a new generation of electric vehicles (EVs). Following a significant investment, groceries from Waitrose’s St Katharine’s Dock store in London will be delivered to customers entirely by wireless charging electric vans.

These electric vans will be equipped with cutting edge wireless charging technology. The move follows an ambition to end the use of fossil fuels across Waitrose’s entire transport fleet by 2030.

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This will save an estimated 70,000 tonnes of CO2 every year and comes as the COP26 climate conference concludes in Glasgow.

The wireless vans are fitted with a slim charging pad on the underside and can simply top-up by parking above an electric plate, exactly like flat charging plates for mobile phones. They can also be plugged in to charge overnight.

The technology is installed by electric vehicle (EV) technology specialists Flexible Power Systems, which also equips the store with a cloud-based smart charging system designed for home delivery.

Ultimately, the system saves time on charging and helps zero-emissions trucks remain on the road to keep up with the increased demand for home deliveries.

Following these initial trials in London, Waitrose expects the use of these vans to be expanded in the near future. The trial builds on a deployment with the City of Edinburgh Council and Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, funded by the UK Government’s Office for Low-Emission Vehicles through its innovation agency Innovate UK.

Marija Rompani, John Lewis Partnership director of ethics and sustainability, said “Before the pandemic, we were taking 60,000 orders a week. We’re now doing well over 200,000 orders.

“That uplift in demand for grocery deliveries means that prioritising an electric fleet is more important than ever, particularly as world leaders meet at COP26 to discuss how we lower global emissions.”

“We’ve already committed to electric vans and have created a new biomethane gas filling station too, which is helping to reduce CO2 emissions by 80 percent. Being the first to trial this new wireless charging technology is both exciting and another example of our ambition to show leadership in this space.”

Michael Ayres, Flexible Power Systems managing director, said: “Companies like Waitrose have to electrify their fleets to combat climate change. At the same time, they have to fulfil customers’ needs as efficiently as possible, and the growth in home delivery seen during the pandemic is here to stay.

“This project is about testing technologies that can save time and cost, particularly wireless charging, which has the potential to save time spent charging between deliveries to make the process more efficient and convenient for customers, as well as retailers.”

Trudy Harrison, Transport Minister, said: “I am thrilled to see Waitrose leading the way by making the important switch to electric vans, offering green deliveries to thousands of customers, as we accelerate towards a net zero future.

“This Government has committed £2.5 billion towards electric vehicle grants and infrastructure and I am delighted to hear that Flexible Power Systems have been able to develop this cutting edge wireless charging technology with the help of Department for Transport funding.”

Ian Osborne
Ian Osborne
Editor-in-Chief at ElectricDrives

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