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Sainsbury's forays into ultra-rapid EV charging with 150kW bays from Kempower

Sainsbury's last year transitioned a store to 100 percent EV deliveries, while launching another one that runs 100 percent on renewable power. Image: Sainsbury's

British supermarket giant Sainsbury's announced its foray into EV charging, launching an ultra-rapid EV charging venture that aims to set up over 750 charging bays at more than 100 stores locations by the end of this year.

With this, the company hopes to deliver a network of conveniently-located fast chargers that can significantly improve access to charge points for EV users.

Sainsbury's said it will deploy 150kW bays from Kempower, which allow users to fully charge an EV battery in as little as 30 minutes, sufficient for up to 320 km of travel. Some units will have higher charging speeds, capable of going up to 300kW if the EV battery allows.

The venture, named Smart Charge, is the first EV charging business to be fully owned and managed by a UK supermarket. As part of its launch, Sainsbury's will take ownership of around 200 ultra-rapid charging bays already installed across 20 locations and lead efforts to expand the network across the company's properties.

Sainsbury's announcement comes after research the supermarket company had commissioned showed that 80 percent of EV users admitted they avoided long journeys, citing broken or slow public charging points and long waiting times during peak hours as the main reasons.

Moreover, 75 percent of EV drivers use multiple charging networks, but almost 94 percent said they would prefer to use a single operator.

"As EV ownership continues to grow, it's shocking to see that an incredible three quarters of EV drivers still suffer range anxiety and many have avoided journeys as a result," said Patrick Dunne, Sainsbury's director of property, procurement and EV ventures.

"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."

Dunne added that the retailer was committed to cutting carbon emissions and reaching net zero across operations by 2035.

Last year, the company transitioned its first store to a 100 percent EV delivery fleet covering 145,000 households in south London with zero-emission deliveries. The store makes over 2,000 deliveries each week on average, and the switch will save 57 tonnes of carbon annually, Sainsbury's said. The company also opened a new flagship supermarket in Hook, Hampshire, which runs on 100 percent renewable energy, which it called as the "most energy-efficient supermarket ever". 

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