Walmart’s recent announcement that it will install EV fast charging stations at thousands of US Walmart and Sam’s Club locations has gotten a lot of praise in the press, and there are reasons to be excited about it.
According to the company, approximately 90% of Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart or a Sam’s. Many of these stores are located in suburban and rural areas that currently have few public charging options, and they should make great sites for fast chargers. By the company’s own description, they’re “clean, bright and safe,” and they’re already popular spots for travelers to stop for a short (or a long) pit stop.
Walmart describes its plan as a “game-changer,” and some EV fans in the media have been throwing around equally glowing terms. However, before we consume too much sparkling wine (currently on sale for $5 a bottle), let’s consider the actual details of the company’s announcement.
All that Walmart has said of substance is: “By 2030, we intend to build our own EV fast-charging network at thousands of Walmart and Sam’s Club locations coast-to-coast. This would be in addition to the almost 1,300 EV fast-charging stations we already have available at more than 280 US facilities.”
This rather vague statement certainly implies great things. “Thousands of locations” will presumably mean many thousand individual chargers, and hopefully it will mean spreading access to charging more widely around the country. Will Walmart proactively install chargers in currently underserved regions, or will it stick to places where demand is already high? (Ironically, Walmart’s home state of Arkansas is one of the least electrified states in the country.)
Does Walmart really intend to build and operate its own network? Will this operate alongside the networks that currently operate chargers at Walmart stores, or will those be taken over? Walmart is already using EVs for deliveries in a few areas—will that fleet be expanded, and where? 2030 is 7 years away—how soon will specific projects be announced? And, most important of all for those in the charging industry—who’s going to get all these juicy contracts?
Make no mistake—Walmart’s announcement is good news, and if the company really follows through, it could be great news—but we’d like to hear some more details.