At a time when consumers are becoming more eco-conscious and increasingly aware of companies with a sustainable ethos, The Warehouse Group has looked to the future and installed Electric Vehicle charging stations (EVCs) from Schneider Electric at 24 of its store locations across New Zealand.
The company first identified the growth potential in the electric vehicle (EV) market in New Zealand nearly two years ago, installing two EVCs at its head office in Auckland so it could assess their capabilities. The trial was so successful that it subsequently committed to offering EV chargers at 24 of its stores, the last of which was installed in July this year.
Former head of Environmental Initiatives at The Warehouse Group, Greg Nelson, says the company has a commitment to sustainability across the business, with a key strategy being to support customers to be sustainable too. He says they saw the chargers as an opportunity to encourage shoppers to consider an electric vehicle. “We knew the potential for EVs, [but] we didn’t know how many of our customers would actually adopt them. The charging network was ready to put chargers out there to make customers realise ‘Okay, I can charge up if I’m out and about, so having an EV isn’t going to be a hindrance’.”
After assessing the various options available, The Warehouse Group’s Energy Efficiency Engineer recommended the Schneider Electric EVlink Parking product – also a natural fit for the company as Schneider Electric is already a major supplier of electrical equipment across The Warehouse Group.
With Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority funding towards 20 chargers, The Warehouse Group began rolling out the Schneider Electric EVlink Parking Charging Stations, which feature two Type 2 charging sockets, providing 22.1 kW of power.
Greg Nelson says they chose to install the chargers at The Warehouse stores (as opposed to the Group’s Warehouse Stationery or Noel Leeming sites) as they have the most foot traffic, but selected stores outside main centres where no chargers were in place at the time, such as Invercargill, Gore, Oamaru, New Plymouth and Tauranga.
The final electric vehicle charging station was installed in July 2018, and Nelson says the feedback from customers has been overwhelmingly positive, with just occasional queries about cables, which are not supplied. “People need to bring their own cables, as regulation specifies how the chargers are to be provided and we’re in line with those standards.”
He says they have been exceptionally pleased with the chargers’ performance and if anything, were surprised by the consumer readiness to adopt electric vehicles. “We started in Gore and Invercargill because we assumed we would install chargers there to encourage people to think about purchasing an electric vehicle, however we were very surprised. What we discovered when installing them was that one of our team members in Invercargill had an EV and when we did the launch, we had three other EV owners attend as well.
“We had no idea what the numbers were going to be, and it’s disproved our original assumptions, but in a good way.”
Schneider Electric EVlink Parking chargers are at The Warehouse stores in: Bell Block (New Plymouth), Blenheim, Cambridge, Dunedin, Gisborne, Gore, Hastings, Hawera, Invercargill, Masterton, Motueka, Napier, Oamaru, Petone, Rangiora, Rolleston, Royal Oak (Auckland), Snells Beach, Taupo, Tauranga, Te Awamutu, Te Kuiti, Timaru, Whangarei.
Note: Worksafe NZ has produced guidelines for safe electric vehicle charging in public spaces. Read more here at worksafe.govt.nz