IKEA’s $4.5 million move to solve big electric vehicle problem

As the hype surrounding electric vehicles continues to grow, furniture giant IKEA is jumping on the popular trend with a $4.5 million commitment.

Currently, 40 per cent of IKEA deliveries are made using electric trucks but a lack of charging infrastructure was proving a major hurdle — with the trucks unable to fit in standard passenger vehicle bays.

The Swedish firm announced on Friday they plan to build a charging network to solve the common problem faced by delivery drivers – and some customers – who visit their stores. The move follows commitments from Woolworths who are pledging to lower emissions.

The network built by JET Charge will include charging stations at its 10 Australian retail locations as well as its Sydney distribution centre.

“We identified that a lot of challenges in the market were related to two things: the cost of vehicles and access to charging infrastructure,” Alexandra Kelly, the retailer’s zero-emissions delivery lead said. “The public network really supports passenger vehicles so if a van or a truck tries to use a passenger vehicle charger they may not fit in the parking bay.”

Larger electric vehicles struggling to charge in traditional bays is a problem faced not only by delivery drivers, but also EV motorists towing anything behind their car. According to RAVC, most charging stations aren’t designed to cater to larger vehicles, with the current infrastructure, drivers often have to unhitch their trailer to effectively charge their vehicle — or risk blocking other vehicles

Carola Jonas, CEO and Founder of Everty — a software platform for EV charging stations — previously told Yahoo said it’s something charging station owners and operators must “pay close attention to.” This is evident in a photo of a Tesla mounting a curb to charge shared last month.

AN EV towing a trailer which does not fit in an ordinary charging bay. Source: EV Stealth

The furniture company will install six electric vehicle chargers at each Australian IKEA store, in addition to 28 charging stations at its distribution center in Marsden Park, Sydney. Kelly said the network would feature a mix of slower AC chargers and high-power DC chargers to accommodate overnight and top-up recharging, and she hoped the announcement would motivate other retail chains to embrace an electric transportation future.

“This is a really exciting investment and I think it will shift the way other retailers look at their investments supporting the transition,” she said. “Hopefully, it will inspire change.”

JET Charge chief executive Tim Washington Australians should expect to see a lot more low-emission transport announcements in the coming years.

“We haven’t seen as much progress in retail yet but if our pipeline is anything to judge, over the next couple of years you will see a lot of projects hit the market,” he said. “We’re seeing a huge uptick in logistics projects, which is good because they take a while to get off the ground.”

IKEA’s announcement also comes one day after the federal government’s New Vehicle Efficiency Standard passed the parliament, which is designed to set emissions limits on vehicles from January next year.

—With AAP

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