By Siddharth Cavale and Abhirup Roy
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Walmart Inc plans to have its own network of electric vehicle charging stations by 2030 to tap into the growing adoption of EVs in the United States.
The new fast-charging stations will be placed at thousands of Walmart and Sam’s Club stores, alongside nearly 1,300 it already offers as part of a deal with Volkswagen unit Electrify America, one of the country’s largest open public EV networks.
Walmart’s more than 5,000 stores and Sam’s Club warehouses are located within 10 miles of about 90% of Americans.
“We have the ability to address range and charging anxiety in a way that no one else can in this country,” Vishal Kapadia, Walmart’s recently appointed senior vice president of Energy Transformation, said in an interview.
As EV charging infrastructure ramps up in the U.S., there are widespread concerns over uptime, performance, ease of use and high installation costs of the machines.
Owning its chargers, instead of partnering with a network operator, will help Walmart address reliability and cost issues, Kapadia said.
Kapadia said he expects the new charge points to be direct-current fast chargers, with about four chargers on average installed per store.
Walmart declined to comment on financial details and said it was in the process of identifying a supplier.
The United States has about 30,000 fast-chargers, which can top up a vehicle in an hour or less, with the particularly powerful models costing providers more than $100,000.
While very few EVs run on U.S. roads, this is beginning to change as high gas prices, increasing state subsidies and new, more affordable models have accelerated adoption.
By 2029, EVs could account for a third of the North American market, consultancy AutoForecast Solutions forecasts.
Walmart’s plan comes as U.S. President Joe Biden has committed to building a network of 500,000 public EV chargers by 2030. The White House in February announced long-awaited rules for a $7.5 billion federal program to accelerate the industry and build charging infrastructure especially along U.S. highways.
Kapadia said Walmart would start deploying chargers independently and consider applying for federal funding later.
With about 240 million customer visits to its stores each week, the new stations could provide Walmart with data on how shoppers pay for them or the time spent at a particular store.
(Reporting by Siddharth Cavale in New York and Abhirup Roy in San Francisco; Editing by Alexander Smith and Richard Chang)