Wireless vans are fitted with a slim charging pad on the underside and 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 EV technology specialists Flexible Power Systems, which also equips the store with a cloud based smart charging system designed for home delivery. The vehicles will be delivering groceries over the coming months from the St Katherine’s Dock Waitrose store in London and are expected to be expanded in the near future.
The move follows an ambition to end the use of fossil fuels across Waitrose’s entire transport fleet by 2030. By then, the operator will have electrified all cars, vans and light trucks, and for sectors where that is not currently possible, such as long distance heavy trucks, biomethane will be used. The supermarket will reach 340 biomethane trucks in the next few months, and by 2028 all 600 heavy trucks will be running on biomethane.
The trial builds on a deployment with 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.
Waitrose and FPS have been working together for two years on large scale simulations of EV fleet implementations to understand the impact of different vehicle choices and charger configurations. “That work has revealed that one-size doesn’t fit all in fleet electrification projects and that a range of operational, site and vehicle requirements need to be balanced to arrive at effective strategies,” said FPS managing director Michael Ayres.
“Software tools developed during that programme form the basis of the system being implemented at St Katherine’s Dock over the coming months. It differs from conventional smart charging systems in that it is integrated into building energy monitoring and operational software systems.”