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The growing network of free electric vehicle charging stations in Tesco stores has now expanded to 500 locations, while usage has grown by 300% in the past year.
The number of free charging sessions in the network using entirely renewable energy increased from 500,000 in April 2021 to more than 2 million by the end of February.
The network was launched in 2019 by Tesco, Volkswagen and Pod Point, with the 500th charging station opening at the Tesco Extra store in Inverness.
Other areas benefiting from improved charging access include Southend-on-Sea, Bolton, Wirral, Walsall and Port Talbot.
Jason Tarry, chief executive of Tesco UK and Republic Of Ireland, said: “We are delighted to see the growing momentum in our retail stores since the introduction of free Electric Vehicle charging.
“The network helps customers who visit Tesco save time and money when shopping.
“This latest milestone underscores the entire company’s commitment to our goal of making the UK carbon neutral by 2035.”
Developed to provide Tesco customers with a safe, reliable and convenient way to charge their electric vehicles, the network of more than 1,000 chargers in 500 Tesco supermarkets in the UK now also includes 100 fast chargers.
Tesco said the network’s 7kW and 22kW chargers are free to use, while 50kW Rapid chargers are offered at competitive prices to customers who need multiple recharges.
Tesco stores in Inverness are also benefiting from new public Rapid chargers.
The network growth has specifically targeted areas without Rapid charging access, with Tesco stores in Leicester and Malden also adding Rapid charging points.
Sarah Cox, head of marketing at Volkswagen UK, said: “At Volkswagen, we want to make carbon-neutral transport accessible to everyone. That’s why we’ve ensured that these chargers are not just for Volkswagens, but for any electric vehicle car brand used.
“It’s encouraging that drivers of over 220 vehicle models from nearly 40 different brands are already benefiting from free green top-ups when shopping at Tesco.”
This latest milestone means the network is on track to achieve its original goal of rolling out charging points across 600 Tesco stores in the UK.
Erik Fairbairn, founder and CEO of Pod Point, said: “This partnership will continue to make a significant and important contribution to the UK’s charging infrastructure and give drivers the confidence to switch to electric vehicles.
“Pod Point’s mission is to install electric vehicle charging stations wherever you park, and we’re excited to see more drivers across the country benefiting as we continue to roll it out.”
The milestone for the free charging network comes after the government announced an electric vehicle infrastructure strategy that will allocate £1.6 billion to create 300,000 public charging points by 2030 and impose new legal responsibilities on charging providers, including payment methods and other factors .
Pod Point was founded in 2009 by current CEO Erik Fairbairn and chairman Peter Hiscocks. The pair previously teamed up to create and sell the supercar club Ecurie25.
Erik provided Pod Point with the concept and management talent; Peter provided all of the early funding and management experience.
In 2014, Pod Point raised £1.5 million in an equity crowdfunding round on the Seedrs platform, at a pre-money valuation of £16 million.
In 2015, the company launched its Open Charge network of public charging stations for electric vehicles in the UK, with the stated goal of making charging easier for drivers by using a smartphone app instead of an RFID card.
Later in the year, Pod Point raised £1.9 million in an equity crowdfunding campaign on the Crowdcube platform at a pre-money valuation of £26 million. This was supplemented by £0.37 million raised through the issuing of mini-bonds on the same platform.
In 2017, the company raised a further £9 million at a pre-investment valuation of £35 million. Venture capital firm Draper Esprit led the round with a £5 million investment.
The rest of the funding is made up of £500,000 of angel investment, £1.5 million of funds raised in a Crowdcube equity crowdfunding campaign and £2 million of venture debt raised by Barclays.
In 2018, Pod Point announced that they would be one of the first companies to sell 150kW fast chargers in the UK, saying they would be needed to support plug-in cars with faster charging capabilities and longer range, which in the mid-term is expected by the market
A few months later, the company installed 67 Electric Vehicle charging stations at Skanska’s UK headquarters in Hertfordshire, what at the time was believed to be the largest single Electric Vehicle charging station installation in the UK.
In 2017 Pod Point was awarded the ‘Tech start up of the year’ award at the Evening Standard Business Awards.
Also in 2017, Pod Point received the ‘Hottest Green Tech Startup of The Year’ award at the Europas Awards.
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