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  • New research reveals that 80% of drivers admit to avoiding long journeys because of not wanting to charge at public EV charging stations, citing broken chargers (40%) as the main deterrent
  • Almost all EV drivers surveyed (94%) said they would prefer to use just one trusted brand, with 63% saying this because they are looking for better reliability
  • Smart Charge will have over 750 bays in more than 100 Sainsbury’s locations by the end of 2024, making it one of the UK’s top five providers of ultra-rapid EV charging

New, convenient and easy-to-use ultra-rapid EV charging business launches today as research finds three quarters of EV drivers still suffer range anxiety

Sainsbury’s has today launched Smart Charge, a brand-new, dedicated EV charging business that will give drivers access to ultra-rapid EV charging points across its stores. This bold move illustrates the retailer’s commitment to the EV industry while providing an exciting new service for drivers.

In new research commissioned by Sainsbury’s, 80% of EV users admitted to avoiding long journeys because of not wanting to charge at public EV charging stations, describing the main frustrations as chargers being broken (40%), not enough charging bays (36%) and speed of service (33%). Designed to mitigate these frustrations, Smart Charge will initially feature over 750 cutting-edge ultra-rapid charging bays rolled out across more than 100 stores by the end of 2024, putting Sainsbury’s in the top five providers of ultra-rapid charging in the UK.

Ultra-rapid is the fastest type of EV charging currently available on the market but a third (32%) of EV drivers surveyed said they have yet to benefit from using it. Designed to be extremely speedy, reliable and easy to use, Sainsbury’s 150kW Smart Charge bays allow users to fully charge their vehicle in as little as 30 minutes, providing enough power to travel up to 200 miles. Many of the chargers can also charge even faster if a driver’s vehicle battery can accept higher charger speeds, up to 300kW.

Smart Charge also offers the perfect solution to the one third (32%) of EV drivers who expressed frustrations at having to wait with nothing to do at public chargers. With Smart Charge, customers can make the most of both the speedy service and the option to pop into a Sainsbury’s store to pick up some groceries or grab a coffee while they wait.

While 74% of EV users currently use multiple EV charging brands, a huge 94% said they would prefer to use just one trusted and reliable brand. When asked why, the top reasons included reliability (63%), convenience when planning long trips (54%) and awareness of cost upfront (53%).

Recognising the desire for a trusted EV charging brand in the UK and the benefits for customers of being able to charge their vehicles while doing their shopping, Sainsbury’s believes the convenience, speed and reliability of Smart Charge will represent a game changer for EV users.

Already available at more than 20 Sainsbury’s stores, Smart Charge offers spacious, accessible bays open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year which are compatible with fully electric vehicles. New charging hubs will be added to the Smart Charge network throughout the UK regularly, with service information and new openings published on www.smartcharge.co.uk.

Patrick Dunne, Sainsbury’s Director of Property, Procurement & EV Ventures, said: “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.

“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.

“We’re committed to helping to reduce carbon emissions and offering a national EV charging service forms part of this pledge. Our new charging points are powered by the same 100% renewable electricity that powers the rest of our estate*.” 

Anthony Browne, Minister for Technology and Decarbonisation, said: “Businesses play a crucial role in the delivery of EV infrastructure, so it’s great to see Sainsbury’s embracing ultra-rapid technology which will benefit EV drivers.

“Together with industry we’ve supported the installation of over 52,600 chargepoints across the UK, an increase of 44% from last year.”

Smart Charge is the first and only EV charging business to be fully owned and managed end-to-end by a UK supermarket. As of today, Smart Charge is available at around 200 ultra-rapid charging bays at just over 20 Sainsbury’s locations. The state-of-the-art charging technology and equipment is provided by Kempower.

The service is intended to help advance the uptake of electric vehicles in the country, supporting the UK’s transition to a low-carbon economy. The launch represents another step in Sainsbury’s ambitious commitment to achieving Net Zero across its value chain by 2050.

Research conducted by Censuswide with 500 EV Drivers 17+ between 20.12.2023 – 29.12.2023. Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles and are members of The British Polling Council.

*Sainsbury’s operations, including its entire store estate, use a combination of energy sourced directly from solar and wind farms as well as certificate-backed renewable electricity from the UK.

EV charging speeds
There are currently four generally recognised speeds of EV charging available in the UK, classified by the level of power or “flow” of electricity that the chargers can provide, in kilowatts (kW):

  • Slow – 3-6kW
  • Fast – 7-22kW
  • Rapid – 25-99kW
  • Ultra-Rapid – 100kW+

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