Waitrose to test all-electric delivery vans

Supermarket brand Waitrose is preparing to trial a new fleet of Vauxhall Vivaro-e delivery vans, all fitted with wireless charging technology.


Supermarket chain Waitrose will begin trials with a small fleet of new electric delivery vans based in central London.

Seven Vauxhall Vivaro-e L2H1 models have been fitted out with temperature-controlled conversions for grocery home deliveries and equipped with wireless charging systems. The vehicles will all be based at Waitrose St Katherine’s Dock store and the trial is due to begin in the New Year. 

Waitrose plans to end the use of fossil fuels across its entire transport fleet by 2030. This will include all cars, vans and light trucks, which will all be electrically powered by then.

Where electric power is less suitable, as with the heavy truck fleet, the company will adopt bio-methane gas as an alternative to diesel power. In the next few months, the company will have 340 bio-methane powered trucks on its fleet, set to rise to all 600 heavy vehicles by 2028.

2020 Vauxhall Vivaro-e
The Vauxhall Vivaro-e is currently available for the on-road price of £29,200, which includes a £6,000 plug-in van grant

The Vivaro-e vans have been equipped with a charging pad beneath the vehicle and the driver simply parks the vehicle over a corresponding charge plate in the ground to begin charging. The vehicles can also be charged using a conventional charging cable. 

The wireless charging system has been installed by EV technology provider Flexible Power Systems (FPS). The company has also installed a cloud-based smart charging system designed for the Vivaro-e fleet’s home delivery duty cycles. If the trial is successful, Waitrose intends to expand it to other stores soon.

“Before the pandemic, we were taking 60,000 orders a week – we’re now doing well over 200,000 orders”, says Marija Rompani, director of ethics & sustainability at the John Lewis Partnership,  “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. We continue to look for new innovative ways to cut our emissions even further, as well as bringing 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.”

Vivaro-e L2H1 Key Specifications
Load length – 2.9m
Load height – 1.4m
Maximum payload – 1,415kg
Economy – Up to 44.8mpg
Transmission – Manual and Automatic available

Managing director of Flexible Power Systems Michael Ayres says: “Companies like Waitrose have to electrify their fleets to combat climate change. At the same time, they have to fulfil customers’ needs as efficiently as possible, and the growth in home delivery seen during the pandemic is here to stay.

“This project is about testing technologies that can save time and cost, particularly wireless charging, which has the potential to save time spent charging between deliveries to make the process more efficient and convenient for customers, as well as retailers.” 

Waitrose and FPS have been working together for two years on the large-scale implementation of EV fleets to understand the impacts of different vehicle choices and charger types.

“That work has revealed that one-size doesn’t fit all in fleet electrification projects and that a range of operational, site and vehicle requirements need to be balanced to arrive at effective strategies,” says Ayres. 

“Software tools developed during that programme form the basis of the system being implemented at St Katherine’s Dock over the coming months. It differs from conventional smart charging systems in that it is integrated into building energy monitoring and operational software systems.”

John Kendall
John Kendall
Began working for a motor industry consultancy in 1988 before moving into automotive journalism in 1990. Freelance since 2001. Chairman of the UK-based Guild of Motoring Writers in 2006-7.

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