Waitrose claims it is to become the first supermarket in the UK to trial a new generation of electric vehicles in a pilot which will begin in the new year.
The trial will see groceries from Waitrose’s St Katherine’s Dock store delivered to customers by electric vans equipped with wireless charging technology. It follows plans by the retailer to end the use of fossil fuels across Waitrose’s entire transport fleet by 2030.
By this stage the retailer plans to 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 wireless vans are fitted with a slim charging pad on the underside which allows the van’s charge to be topped up by parking above an electric plate. 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 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.
Marija Rompani, director of ethics and sustainability at the John Lewis Partnership, 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%. 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.”