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Sainsburys plugs-in to the EV charging market with its own Smart Charge brand

The new Smart Charge brand will put the supermarket among the top five ultra-rapid charging providers in the UK

Supermarket chain Sainsburys is making a grab for a bigger slice of the UK’s ultra-rapid EV charging market, launching a new ‘Smart Charge’ brand and announcing plans to be a top five provider by the end of this year.

The firm was one of the big four supermarkets criticised by the Competitions and Markets Authority in its recent report focusing on ‘weak competition’ in petrol and diesel market - the body finding that the retailers hiked profit margins during the fuel price crisis. Now Sainsburys says it aims to have 750 “cutting-edge, ultra-rapid charging bays” installed in car parks at more than 100 of its stores within the next 12 months.

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When that target is reached, the company claims its Smart Charge brand will be one of the top-five ultra-rapid charging providers in the country, a position it says aligns well with research showing that almost 94 per cent of drivers would prefer to use “just one trusted out-of-home charging brand”.

According to Sainsbury’s own research, 80 per cent of EV drivers say they avoid long journeys, due to not wanting to use public charge points. It is aiming to overcome driver frustrations with limited charger provision, broken equipment and slow charging times, offering 150kW Smart Charge bays that allow drivers to top up in as little as 30 mins.

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“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,” it says. “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.” 

Some supermarket customers will have spotted Smart Charge bays, as they’ve already popped up at more than 20 stores. The company says its new charging brand will offer spacious, accessible bays open 24hrs, and all year round.

Sainsbury’s director of EV ventures Patrick Dunne says he was shocked to learn that over three-quarters of EV drivers still suffer range anxiety and avoid journeys as a result.

“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,” he says. “What’s more, they can even grab a coffee or pick up some groceries while they’re there.”

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Current affairs and features editor

Chris covers all aspects of motoring life for Auto Express. Over a long career he has contributed news and car reviews to brands such as Autocar, WhatCar?, PistonHeads, Goodwood and The Motor Trader.

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