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IKEA invests millions in charge points for its EV fleet

IKEA has announced a massive investment in charging infrastructure for its UK fleet of last mile delivery vehicles, including what is thought to be the largest electric vehicle (EV) charge point investment in a single site in Europe.

The programme will support the furniture giant’s goal of 60% zero emission deliveries in the UK by next year, 100% by 2025, and to be a carbon positive business by 2030.

The £4.5 million (€5.1m) investment will see IKEA install 196 chargers at its UK distribution centres and stores. The new charge points are in addition to existing charging facilities for customers visiting IKEA stores.

 The company has partnered with Mer, Europe’s largest renewable energy producer, to install the chargers, and provide ongoing management and maintenance.

500 EVs by 2025

IKEA is rapidly replacing its diesel last mile vehicles with electric vans, and aims to have 500 battery-powered EVs by 2025.

Jakob Bertilsson, Country Customer Fulfilment Manager at IKEA UK & Ireland, said: “Initially the charge points will be available to our own fleet and our delivery partners, but there is capacity to invite other retailers to partner with IKEA and Mer in the longer term.”

The company will use its own fleet for deliveries to customers within the range of EVs and rely on partners for deliveries to more remote sites.

New operating model

IKEA vans will continue to return to a store or distribution centre overnight, but the transition to electric powertrains has required significant operational changes, said Bertilsson (pictured below).

“The change from diesel to electric is not just about changing from one vehicle to another; it involves the whole operating model around it, in terms of planning, route planning, and maintaining efficiency and vehicle optimisation,” he said.

“We have managed to model the optimisation really well to keep a similar fleet size. We are planning for growth and we have a fleet that always has the flexibility to grow.”

Fast and slow chargers

The new charge points include 53 rapid DC charge points capable of recharging the batteries of an electric light commercial vehicle in under an hour.

“We decided on the balance of AC and DC chargers by modelling demand. We need to create a balance between efficiency and the capacity to meet customer demand. The fast and rapid chargers are a lot more expensive, so it’s a question of finding the balance of what we need now and what we will need in the future,” said Bertilsson.

He forecasts that IKEA will move to more faster chargers in future, when higher delivery volumes require quicker turnaround times for vehicles.

In some locations IKEA has had to upgrade the local electricity grid to provide sufficient power for EV charging, while other stores have spare capacity. All of its shops have rooftop solar panels, which support the company’s energy needs.

EV TCO

Given the size of the investment, Bertilsson declined to say when IKEA forecasts the total cost of ownership (TCO) of electric vehicles to equal the TCO of diesel models.

“IKEA is extremely values driven, and we have a big commitment to the people and planet. To improve the environment is more important than bottom line calculations,” he said. “Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do at IKEA, and we are always looking for ways to reduce our impact on the planet while supporting our customers to live more sustainable lives at home.”

Europe's largest charge point site

IKEA has also announced the creation of a new distribution hub at Dartford, on the outskirts of London, that has been carefully selected to provide zero emission last mile deliveries to the capital.

“The warehouse will have an investment of 80 chargers on its own, and we are told it’s the biggest investment in EV infrastructure in a single unit in Europe. It will support London to become very close to 100% EV deliveries by 2025 – we are planning to be 70% next year,” , said Bertilsson.

Sustainability is the key focus of the Global Fleet Conference in May - register here.

Images: IKEA

 

Authored by: Jonathan Manning