One in 10 supermarkets now offer EV charging

James Batchelor

24 Mar 2024

One in 10 supermarkets in the UK now offer charging for electric vehicles with Sainsbury's leading the way for new installations, new research has shown.

Analysis carried out by the RAC and Zapmap found that 1,616 supermarkets offered EV charging points in 2023 – up from 1,015 a year before, and equating to 13% of all 12,839 UK supermarkets, including those that don’t have parking facilities.

The rise in charging points came despite Asda deactivating most of its devices, the research found. 

Tesco continues to lead the way among supermarkets that offer EV charging, with 1,305 devices now in place across 4,859 shops. The supermarket giant added 497 chargers to its stores last year. 

However, while the number of Tesco sites with charging facilities increased by 50% year-on-year, rising from 412 stores to 617 at the end of 2023, only 10% (132) of its 1,305 devices were rapid or ultra-rapid. Just 12% of Tesco supermarkets have the capability to charge an EV at all, due the firm having a large number of convenience stores in its portfolio, with these sites not having parking spaces.

Morrisons and Lidl took the top two consecutive spots for both the greatest proportion of chargers per estate and number of rapid chargers installed. Morrisons had 413 devices at 69% (344) of its 497 stores, 99% (342) of which had rapid devices, while Lidl also has 346 chargers at nearly a third (30%) of its 960 stores in 2023, with 91% (258) of the 285 EV locations offering rapid charging facilities.

Sainsbury's has seen the biggest year-on-year growth thanks to the launch of its ultra-rapid network Smart Charge. After installing just 53 units in 2022, the retailer nearly tripled its total device numbers in 2023 by adding 104 new chargers to its stores. 

Meanwhile, Asda has deactivated the majority of its charging points after its contract with BP Pulse came to an end. The number of charging devices fell from 165 in 2022 to just 46 in place through 2023 – an 81% drop from the 246 devices it had installed in 2021.

RAC EV spokesperson Simon Williams said: "Concerns about the lack of public charge points are one of the biggest reasons why drivers aren’t choosing to go electric when buying their next car, with six-in-10 telling us this. It’s very encouraging to see supermarkets doing their best to allay these fears by ramping up EV charging facilities across a greater proportion of their estates.

"The data also shows a surge of investment in the very fastest chargers. These rapid and ultra-rapid units are the closest drivers can get to filling up with fuel because they offer the fastest charging speeds, helping to reduce queues so motorists can resume their journeys as quickly as possible.

"As the supermarkets currently dominate UK fuel sales, it makes sense for them to try to retain as much of that market as they can by catering to the needs of all EV drivers looking to recharge as quickly as possible."

An Asda spokesperson told the PA news agency: "Our operating agreement with bp pulse came to an end in October last year. These EV charging points remain on site with clear signage to indicate to customers that the equipment is currently not in use, whilst we review our options."

Sainsbury's saw the biggest year-on-year growth, with it nearly tripling the number of chargers installed at its sites last year

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