As the Tesco advertising catchline says, “Every Little Helps”. And while the company might mean they will save you a few pence on multibuy muesli, they will also fill your car with cheap 'fuel' while you shop. But only if you have an electric car.
We've crowned Tesco as our charge point champ two years in a row because it had more places to plug in electric cars than any other supermarket. It also won points in the awards because it was (mostly) free to use and the electricity used to charge comes from renewable sources. The charging station network is vast and run by Pod Point in conjunction with Volkswagen.
How much does it cost to charge at Tesco?
From November 1st 2022 the company introduced charging for its charging, with prices currently set at 28p/kWh for the slowest 7kW connections, rising to 40p for the 22kW AC and 50p for the 50kW rapid chargers. While this is far less generous than the previous free connections, the 28p cost is lower than many people will be paying for their domestic tariffs.
Some stores only have 7kW stations, but many have the sparkier 22kW charging posts that will give your car a decent shot in its batteries while you shop. These are more expensive to use though, and there are only a few cars which can accept such high rates (such as Renault Zoes and some more modern German models), but many more will accept up to 11kW. Bear that in mind before connecting as you may pay for something you can't use.
Most sites also have at least one rapid charger. They are mostly 50kW, which is at the lower end of the speed scale these days, but will be able to get 100 miles of range into an average electric car in the time it takes to do a weekly shop. These can accept contactless payment as well as using the app.
Tesco is also dabbling with its first set of 75kW charging units on a trial basis - but they are no bargain. Customers shopping at the Cheshunt, Osterley, Shrewsbury, Ashby De La Zouch and York Extra stores, and at the Newark New Ollerton Superstore will be able to try them and a further six stores will be installed with 75kW units as part of the trial later in 2023.
The 75kW will cost 69p per kWh – which makes it more expensive than ultra rapid charges from rivals such as Gridserve and the same as bp pulse’s 150kW prices. So if you don't need the speed, it will be much cheaper to stick to the slows.
How do I use a Tesco charging station?
To charge, first you will need to find the points. Mostly they will be located in one of the more remote sections of the car park, as it means they are less likely to be used by lazy parkers in a petrol or diesel car. They also tend to be near the store building as this is where the power cables can be tapped into when installing the points. Look out for the big signs with a picture of a car and a plug.
Most of Tesco’s charging posts are 7.2kW jobs that will give you a quarter of an hour’s worth of free electricity, without needing to use an app or a card. But, be warned. The post-like plugs are sometimes the 22kWs and therefore faster but more expensive. The 7kWs are often attached to advertising billboards.
If you want more power after the free 15 minutes, you will need to use Pod Point’s app to log in and ‘officially’ start the charge and arrange payment. If you don’t do this everything shuts down after your 15 minutes is up.
It's pretty simple to use, although you will need to have a decent data connection on your smartphone to make it work. If you can’t try latching on to the store’s free Wi-Fi link instead.
You can either allow the app to find the point you are standing to next by giving it access to your location data, or you can do a manual search. Every PodPoint charger has a name for each socket (like “Betty – Sue”) and you’ll need to make a note of which one you are connected to in order to keep the power flowing past the 15 minute limit.
Once you've finished, simply unlock the car to release the cable and you can go.