Walmart Adds Juice to EV Fast Charging Network

Walmart is expanding its electric vehicle charging capabilities in a bid to promote EV ownership.

“By 2030, we intend to build our own EV fast-charging network at thousands of Walmart and Sam’s Club locations coast to coast,” Vishal Kapadia, the retail giant’s senior vice president for energy transformation, said in a Thursday (April 6) press release. “This would be in addition to the almost 1,300 EV fast-charging stations we already have available at more than 280 U.S. facilities.”

Kapadia said in the release that Walmart’s ubiquity around the country — its stores are based within 10 miles of roughly 90% of Americans — can allow it to make EV ownership easier for consumers no matter where they live.

“Easy access to on-the-go charging is a game-changer for drivers who have been hesitant to purchase an EV for concerns they won’t be able to find a charger in a clean, bright and safe location when needed,” Kapadia said in the release.

Walmart contends that as more drivers switch to EVs, the growth of its network will boost EV charging capacity from state to state, with Kapadia saying in the release that the expansion is “a big win for busy families and drivers everywhere, our country and the planet.”

It’s also a win for the company and any retailer who can use the charging stations as a way to increase customer traffic.

“As EV drivers wait for the vehicles to charge up, they have time to kill,” PYMNTS reported Friday (March 31). “And they’re captive audiences, so to speak, so walking into the establishments to grab some coffee, maybe a snack, has appeal.”

For the EV stakeholders themselves — the car companies and the network providers — there’s the additional advantage of putting more charging stations out in the field.

The more stations there are, the more likely it is that potential EV drivers will become actual EV drivers. Kelley Blue Book reported last year that just 2% of consumers in the United States own an EV, but about 36% are considering buying or leasing one.

As to the spending momentum, a survey last year by charging network EVgo found that 80% of the drivers at its charging stations often patronized nearby retailers while waiting for their car to get enough juice.

The company said the presence of charging stations helped drive consumers’ decision to shop at a particular location, and the consumers’ average spend per shopping session amounted to more than $1 per minute spent charging.

“The minutes add up, the vehicle gets its juice, the retailers see a boost in their own fortunes,” PYMNTS wrote.

Several other retailers are taking the same path as Walmart. For example, 7-Eleven last month debuted 7Charge, billed as a “proprietary EV charging network and app” that is part of the plan to create “one of the largest and most compatible electric vehicle (EV) fast-charging networks of any retailer in North America.”

Subway, meanwhile, is working with GenZ EV Solutions, a pact that is leading to the construction of Subway Oasis charging parks, while Volvo and Starbucks last year announced a pact to bring EV chargers to the coffee giant’s locations.