While the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) is ongoing, British supermarket Waitrose announced it will be the first supermarket in the UK to test-run a set of new electric vehicles for delivery in 2022.
The retailer says groceries will be driven to customers in the new fleet that includes “cutting-edge wireless technology” from its St. Katharine’s Dock supermarket. The move comes as Waitrose and others aim to hit emissions targets ahead of 2023.
The chain says the electric vehicles – which eventually will include all of its cars, vans and light trucks and will cut huge emissions in heavier trucks – will spare 70,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually as it curbs its use of fossil fuels.
“Companies like Waitrose have to electrify their fleets to combat climate change,” said Michael Ayers, Managing Director of Flexible Power Systems which is both installing the technology and providing a cloud-based smart charging system. “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.”
The amazing technology includes a “slim charging pad on the underside” of vans, which can be parked over an electric plate for charging up, the same way a charger with any device works. They can be plugged in, as well.
The trial is part of an Innovate UK initiative with City of Edinburgh Council and Heriot-Watt University that is funded by the UK Government’s Office for Low-Emission Vehicles. It one that Waitrose believes is a necessity given the demand from its customers wanting to order from home.
“Before the pandemic, we were taking 60,000 orders a week – we’re now doing well over 200,000 orders,” Marija Rompani, Director of Ethics & Sustainability at the John Lewis Partnership, comments. “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%. 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.”