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Volta: Kroger partnership helps EV charging ‘fit seamlessly’ into everyday life

·Senior Reporter
·3 min read
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Heading to the grocery story to pick up some milk and eggs? Now you can fill up your electric vehicle’s (EV) battery too.

Kroger (KR), the largest grocery chain in the U.S., and EV charging network Volta (VLTA) are partnering up in a deal to place Volta’s chargers in Kroger’s parking lots. The partnership will bring Level 2 and DC Fast chargers to 16 Kroger locations in Atlanta and Indianapolis first, followed by an expansion into Columbus, Cincinnati, Louisville, Nashville, Michigan, and Southern California throughout the year.

The use-case seems rather simple here for EV owners. While most will “top-up” a car’s battery at home, destinations like the worksite and the grocery store make sense as charging locations since users will end up traveling there frequently and spending more time there than a location like the dry cleaner for a pickup.

“Many EV drivers, like myself, do charge at home, if you can, and the number of EV drivers that will be able to charge at home, particularly in urban environments, is something to keep in mind,” Brandt Hastings, Volta’s chief commercial officer, told Yahoo Finance. “Which is why we're so focused on building this charging network at places where people are already going and partnering with world class retailers, such as Kroger and Walgreens and Albertsons and others, to make this network fit seamlessly into their daily lives,” he added.

Volta charger at Kroger supermarket (credit: Volta)
Volta charger at Kroger supermarket (credit: Volta)

Hastings noted that Kroger is the largest grocer in America with over 2,500 locations. "I mean, millions of Americans are shopping at Kroger stores every week,” he said. “And to provide critical fueling infrastructure at those locations is incredibly important to ensure that Kroger is attracting and retaining and delighting their customers.”

Volta’s other partners, such as Tanger Outlets (SKT), Walgreens (WBA) and Cinemark Theaters (CNK), are also locations at which users can spend a decent chunk of time, where a fast charger could add a good amount of range for their vehicles.

Another big part of the Volta growth plan is its media network, where the company uses its two digital screens on each of its charging stations to play programmatic advertising. Volta’s network of 2,500 stations gives the company a decent footprint in the digital out-of-home market, and it intends to keep growing.

Though the network is small, it does offer advertisers unique points of visibility, since the chargers and the screens are located right at physical, retail locations.

Ad-tech publication AdExchanger notes Volta ads could appear on screens in parking lots near other real estate owned by grocers, pharmacies and related stores, or could be geo-targeted to run on Volta screens near stores known to carry a particular product.

It’s just another way for Volta to monetize its footprint as it seeks to scale up. And there is a lot of work to do — the Biden White House wants 500,000 public chargers nationwide by 2030. Other research groups claim the U.S. will need more than double that amount.

“You'll see our network will continue to grow over time geographically in covering more places on the map in terms of building our EV charging network,” Hastings says. “But it will also grow within locations where we already exist, because we're constantly going back to partners where we've already built critical fueling infrastructure, and we're expanding over time in those locations, as EV adoption increases.”

Pras Subramanian is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter and on Instagram.

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