Waitrose is trialling a new generation of electric vehicles in a UK first, delivering groceries to customers in London. The electric vans are equipped with wireless charging technology – putting the supermarket at the forefront of green home delivery when the trial commences in the New Year.
The move follows an ambition to end the use of fossil fuels across Waitrose’s entire transport fleet by 2030 – estimated to save 70,000 tonnes of CO2 every year, and comes as world leaders gather in Glasgow for the COP26 Climate Conference. Waitrose plans to electrify all its cars, vans and light trucks by 2030, which will also include fuelling long-distance heavy trucks with biomethane. The supermarket will reach 340 biomethane trucks in the next few months, and by 2028 all 600 heavy trucks will be running on biomethane.
“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%. We continue to look for new innovative ways to cut our emissions even further, as well as bring in the latest technology. 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,” said Marija Rompani, Director of Ethics & Sustainability at the John Lewis Partnership.
The wireless vans are fitted with a slim charging pad on the underside, and 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 EV technology specialists Flexible Power Systems, which also equips the store with a cloud-based smart charging system designed for home delivery.
“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,” said Flexible Power Systems’s Managing Director Michael Ayres. “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.”