Walmart Is Building An EV Fast-Charging Network: Why That Could Be A Game-Changer

Joining a growing list of retailers that offer widespread electric vehicle charging, Walmart announced today that it plans to expand its fast-charging network to thousands of additional store locations by the year 2030. According to a statement from Vishal Kapadia, senior vice president of energy transformation, "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."

Walmart currently operates almost 1,300 charging stations at 280 locations, but that only represents a small fraction of the brand's 4,700 Walmart stores and 600 Sam's Clubs. According to the company, 90% of Americans have a Walmart or Sam's Club located within 10 miles of their homes, which means such an expansion could greatly increase access to EV charging options for the average person. That's important, as so-called range anxiety remains one of the biggest reasons many people are reluctant to buy an EV, and presently, convenient charging options can be slim for many people who live outside of big cities and don't have their own garage.

Walmart's business model does lend itself well to an EV fast-charging network. Besides shopping, many Walmart locations feature eateries, banking services, salons, and more to keep EV owners occupied while topping off their rides. What's more, the big-box retailer promises competitive rates for the charging services, in line with its Every Day Low Price mantra for groceries and other items.

An average of four chargers per store

Walmart has not yet identified a supplier for the additional chargers, although it currently has partnerships with both Electrify America and EVgo. According to Reuters, Walmart plans to own and operate the chargers in-house to maintain increased oversight of reliability and cost issues. An average of four chargers will be installed per store location.

This announcement from America's largest retailer is only the latest development in a transition away from internal combustion engine automobiles. Sales of electric vehicles rose markedly in 2022. While still only 5.8% of overall vehicle sales, that represents a 65% increase over the number of EV sales in 2021.

President Biden's White House is also taking steps to bolster the nation's EV charging network as part of its green energy initiative, with almost $5 billion in federal funds for charging infrastructure available as part of the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program.