Waitrose is to become the UK’s first supermarket to trial a new generation of electric vehicle technology developed in a partnership project involving Heriot-Watt University.
Following a significant investment, groceries from Waitrose’s St Katherine’s Dock store in London will be delivered to customers entirely by electric vans equipped with cutting edge wireless charging technology - putting the supermarket at the forefront of green home delivery when the trial commences in the New Year.
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.
This project is an important step towards electrification and starts to consider how we future proof solutions.
The trial builds on a deployment with City of Edinburgh Council and Heriot-Watt University, funded by the UK Government’s Office for Low-Emission Vehicles through its innovation agency Innovate UK. 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.
Professor Phil Greening is Deputy Director of the Centre for Sustainable Road Freight, a joint initiative between Heriot-Watt and Cambridge University. He has played a leading role in developing the wireless EV technology and said today: “This project is an important step towards electrification and starts to consider how we future proof solutions.
“Wireless charging will become increasingly important when we move to autonomous delivery vehicles. The research team at Heriot-Watt are using complex sophisticated computer models to glimpse the future and stress test current or near horizon solutions against a range of future scenarios including wireless charging.”
Waitrose has ambitions to end the use of fossil fuels across its entire transport fleet by 2030 - estimated to save 70,000 tonnes of CO2 every year, and comes as world leaders gather in Glasgow for the COP26 Climate Conference.
The vehicles will be delivering groceries over the coming months from the St Katherine’s Dock Waitrose store and are expected to be expanded in the near future.
Marija Rompani, Director of Ethics & Sustainability at the John Lewis Partnership, comments: “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.”
The announcement comes as world leaders gather in Glasgow for COP26. Heriot-Watt University is committed to applying its related pioneering research to address global challenges. Follow the University’s involvement in COP26 on social media and search #HWCOP