Sainsbury’s supermarket launches new EV charging venture ‘Smart Charge’

In parallel with electrifying its own fleet, Sainsbury’s supermarket has announced the rollout of a new electric vehicle (EV) charging business for shoppers, as it targets becoming the UK’s leading charging brand.
January 16, 2024

Sainsbury’s seeks to ‘build confidence in public EV charging’

Sainsbury’s supermarket has announced the launch of its new ‘Smart Charge’ service set to provide customers with access to ultra-rapid EV charging points across its stores. Already available at 20 stores, the 150kW Smart Charge bays allow users to fully charge their vehicle in as little as 30 minutes. The company hopes that its new service will ‘build confidence in public EV charging’. Sainsbury’s refers to recent research it commissioned which found that 80% of EV users admitted to avoiding long journeys because of not wanting to charge at public EV charging stations. They describe the main frustrations as chargers being broken (40%), not enough charging bays (36%) and speed of service (33%)[i].

The research also sheds light on the increasingly fragmented public charging ecosystem, where consumers are having to use different services via multiple apps to access public charging. Sainsbury’s note that almost all of the 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, 54% stating convenience when planning long trips, and 53% saying this is due to awareness of cost upfront.

Patrick Dunne, Sainsbury’s Director of Property, Procurement & EV Ventures, has 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. 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.”[ii]

New UK data shows drivers investing in zero emissions vehicles (ZEVs)

The plans by Sainsburys are timely, given the adoption of electric vehicles continues to grow in the UK. Recent data from SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) revealed that the UK auto market had its best year since 2019, with almost 2 million new vehicles sold. In addition, BEVs (Battery Electric Vehicles) saw their best year yet with just over 314,000 registrations, a higher volume than 2020 and 2021 sales combined.

Overall, the 2023 UK sales figures show a marked increase in the volume of so-termed zero emissions vehicles (ZEVs), as well as low-emissions vehicles such as plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). This change resulted in an estimated 2.2% reduction in the average CO2 emissions of new cars in the UK, down to 108.9 g/km. PHEVs were up by almost 40%, accounting for 7.4% of new car registrations, whilst hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) were up by 27.1% to make up 12.6% of sales.

Source: SMMT

SMMT’s chief executive Mike Hawes said: “With vehicle supply challenges fading, the new car market is building back with the best year since the pandemic. Energised by fleet investment, particularly in the latest EVs, the challenge for 2024 is to deliver a green recovery. Government has challenged the UK automotive sector with the world’s boldest transition timeline and is investing to ensure we are a major maker of electric vehicles. It must now help all drivers buy into this future, with consumer incentives that will make the UK the leading European market for ZEVs”[iii]

As we previously discussed, ensuring that the UK’s future fleet of electric vehicles is supported by a national network of charging points is vital in the pursuit of this component on the path to net zero. Consequently, the Department for Transport released their UK electric vehicle infrastructure strategy on the 25th of March 2022. The Strategy outlines how they will address the barrier of charging infrastructure and reach a minimum of 300,000 public charging points by 2030[iv].


[i] Sainsbury’s launches Smart Charge: new ultra-rapid service to build confidence in public EV charging – Sainsbury's (

[ii] Ibid

[iii] New car market delivers best year since 2019 as fleets fuel growth - SMMT

[iv] Taking Charge: UK Electric Vehicle Strategy Aims to Provide “Effortless” Charging for Everyone By 2030 (

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Lauren Foye
Head of Reports

Lauren has extensive experience as an analyst and market researcher in the digital technology and travel sectors. She has a background in researching and forecasting emerging technologies, with a particular passion for the Videogames and eSports industries. She joined the Critical Information Group as Head of Reports and Market Research at GRC World Forums, and leads the content and data research team at the Zero Carbon Academy. “What drew me to the academy is the opportunity to add content and commentary around sustainability across a wealth of industries and sectors.”

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