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The future of Waitrose’s van fleet is wireless

Logistics UK member Waitrose, part of the John Lewis Partnership, is to be the first UK supermarket chain to trail a new generation of wireless-charged electric vans.

Groceries from the upmarket chain’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.

The move follows an ambition to end the use of fossil fuels across Waitrose’s 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.

By 2030, Waitrose will have electrified all cars, vans and light trucks, and for sectors where that is not currently possible, such as long-distance HGVs, biomethane will be used. The supermarket will reach 340 biomethane trucks in the next few months, and by 2028 all 600 trucks will be running on biomethane.


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.

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. The vehicles will be delivering groceries over the coming months from the St Katherine’s Dock store in the capital and are expected to be expanded in the near future.

The trial builds on a deployment with City of Edinburgh Council and Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, funded by the government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles through its innovation agency Innovate UK.


“Before the pandemic, we were taking 60,000 orders a week – we’re now doing well over 200,000 orders,” said Marija Rompani, Director of Ethics and Sustainability, John Lewis Partnership, “That uplift in 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 continue to look for 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.”


“Companies like Waitrose have to electrify their fleets to combat climate change,” said Michael Ayres, Managing Director, Flexible Power Systems, “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.”


The development of wireless electric vehicle technology has received the approval of the Department for Transport too, which helped fund the Waitrose/FPS project.

Recently appointed Transport Minister Trudy Harrison MP said: “I am thrilled to see Waitrose leading the way by making the important switch to electric vans, offering green deliveries to thousands of customers, as we accelerate towards a net zero future.

“The government has committed £2.5bn towards electric vehicle grants and infrastructure and I am delighted to hear that Flexible Power Systems has been able to develop this cutting-edge wireless charging technology with the help of DfT funding.”

Waitrose and FPS have been working together for two years on large-scale simulations of EV fleet implementations to understand the impact of different vehicle choices and charger configurations.

Denise Beedell, Public Policy Manager, Logistics UK, said: “Vans are often described as the ‘low-hanging fruit’ in the race to decarbonise road transport, and this innovative partnership between Waitrose and FPS shows that there is more than one way to electrify the van fleets of tomorrow. Finding ever smarter ways to power the next generation of vehicles and prepare for net zero is one of the topics of our forthcoming webinar – COP26: The route to net zero for logistics – on 10 November 2021.”

Jackie Hewson, Alternative Fuels Implementation Manager, John Lewis Partnership, will be speaking during the free webinar, which will be held on Transport Day at COP26. If you wish to attend, please visit the link below.


Published On: 04/11/2021 16:00:49


Related Items


Jackie Hewson, Alternative Fuels Implementation Manager, John Lewis Partnership, will be speaking during the free COP26: The route to net zero for logistics, which will be held on Transport Day at COP26 on 10 November 2021. If you wish to attend, please visit the link below.



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