"The change taking place in mobility will create new, cross-divisional opportunities for K Group. We have an unusually good basis for embracing the change: we have the most comprehensive store network in Finland, which reaches almost everyone in the country every week, and as the market leader in the car trade, we already have extensive experience of mobility services. Recognising new business opportunities and pushing the traditional barriers will be increasingly important in the retail sector in the future," says Mikko Helander, President and CEO of Kesko and K Group.
The nationwide network of charging points to be built over this and next year will significantly reinforce the Finnish overall charging network and the public fast charging network by as much as 50 %. On a fast charging point, a modern electric car can be almost fully charged during a shopping trip.
It is already possible to charge an electric car at some K-store locations, but the new network will make K Group one of Finland's leading operators of charging point networks.
K Group's investment will also support the Finnish Government's target to increase the number of electric cars on Finnish roads to 250,000 by 2030 and to build 2,000 public charging points by 2020. By the end of 2019, K Group's charging network will alone constitute a fifth of this target.
"At its best, a charging point outside a store means that customers do not need other charging points for their electric car: many people go grocery shopping once a week, and as the technology develops, a weekly charge will be sufficient for an increasing number of people," says Johan Friman, President of Kesko's car trade division.
Stores considered as most logical charging points
Based on a customer survey conducted by K Group, uncertainty regarding the availability of charging points is seen as the third most significant obstacle to buying an electric car after price and range.
"Based on the survey, K Group's customers regard stores as the most logical places for charging a car. The majority of customers specifically wish to see more public charging points in the Finnish charging network," says Friman.
K Group is the largest producer and user of solar power in Finland. The electricity for as many of the charging points as possible will be generated using solar panels on K-stores' roofs. All charging points are initially free-of-charge for customers.
Car sharing pilot launched across the country
In addition to the charging network project, K Group will soon be piloting new, cross-divisional mobility services, which will utilise K Group's store network and customer flow.
K Group will initiate a car sharing pilot, bringing rental cars to the car parks of selected K-stores: vans in K-Rautas and cars in K-Supermarkets.
"We will use this pilot to study, for example, how attractive local stores would be as a pick-up point location for car sharing. As we want to receive nationwide data, the trial will be launched simultaneously in Helsinki, Espoo, Turku, Tampere, Oulu, Jyväskylä and Lahti," says Friman.
The cooperation partner for the car sharing trial is 24Rent, which was named by the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra as one of Finland's most interesting circular economy companies.
K Charge: Nationwide network of charging points to be built in 2018–2019
K Group's new electric car charging points will be installed across Finland during 2018 and 2019. The K Charge network will provide charging points for fully electric cars and plug-in hybrids at K-store locations.
By the end of 2019, the K Charge network will consist of almost 400 charging points in 70 different locations and form a significant part of the country's network of charging points, which currently comprises 1,300 charging points in approximately 500 locations*. The K Charge charging points will mostly be located in large cities at K-Citymarket, K-Supermarket and K-Rauta locations. More details of the charging network and the locations will be published at a later date.
The charging network will include 100 fast charging points and will increase the number of public fast charging points in Finland by over 50%. It takes approximately 40 minutes to charge a modern fully electric car from empty to 80% with a fast charging point, which is about the length of one shopping trip. With a standard charging point, it takes approximately 3 to 6 hours to reach the same level, depending on the car type. The output of a standard charging point in the K Charge network is as high as 22 kW and the fast charging point a minimum of 50 kW.
K Group is the largest producer and user of solar power in Finland and all electricity purchased by Kesko in Finland is from renewable sources. The electricity for as many of the charging points as possible will be generated using solar panels on K-store roofs. The standard charging points are initially free-of-charge for customers. The charging points are built in cooperation with Onninen, which is part of K Group, and Plugit Finland Oy.
K Group's investment will also support the Finnish Government's target to increase the number of electric cars on Finnish roads to 250,000 by 2030.
More information [in Finnish]: k-lataus.fi
*Source: Sähköautoilijat ry 3 April 2018
K Group survey: People interested in electric cars – price and charging points an issue
K Group surveyed its customers' attitudes to electric cars and car sharing on 17–24 April 2018. The online survey, implemented in K Group's Kylä customer community, received 1,171 responses from across the country.
- 44% of K Group's customers considered the option of buying a fully electric car very or fairly interesting.
- The core issues for buying an electric car included the price (60%), range (57%), charging (56%), cold conditions (45%) and sufficient availability of public charging points (41%).
- For K Group customers, the motivation to buy an electric car would be increased by lower price (72%), longer range (55%), more comprehensive public network of charging points (53%), improved battery life (44%) and faster charging (34%).
- The respondents to the survey regarded public charging points (59%) as the most attractive option for regular charging, before installing one at home (55%) and charging points along regular routes (49%).
- Stores (88%) are considered to be by far the most logical charging point. The next most popular options for charging points are petrol stations (61%), swimming pools (26%), public offices (22%) and libraries (22%).
- 20% of K Group's customers consider the option of replacing a private car with car sharing very or fairly interesting.
K-Supermarkets and K-Rautas are piloting car sharing
K Group has also launched a car sharing pilot across the country. Selected K-Rautas offer a total of 10 Volkswagen Crafter vans and selected K-Supermarkets a total of 10 SEAT Leon ST cars to their customers for renting. The vehicles are rented digitally using a mobile device and are available from two hours up to a week.
The pilot surveys, for example, how attractive local stores would be as a pick-up point location for car sharing. The pilot runs in seven towns around Finland and lasts for approximately six months.
The trial is implemented in cooperation with 24Rent. Vehicles are booked online at www.24rent.fi/k-rauta and www.24rent.fi/k-supermarket. The websites detail the prices and availability.
The chosen model, timing and duration and the distance driven affect the price. Examples of pricing:
- Prices for passenger cars: 2 h €19, 24 h €49, 48 h €79
- Prices for vans: 2 h €33, 24 h €76, 48 h €143
Vehicles are available for rent at the following stores: K-Supermarket Mankkaa (Espoo), K-Supermarket Mustapekka (Helsinki), K-Supermarket Manhattan (Turku), K-Supermarket Länsiväylä (Jyväskylä), K-Supermarket Okeroinen (Lahti); K-Rauta Lanterna (Helsinki), K-Rauta Laune (Lahti), K-Rauta Skanssi (Turku), K-Rauta Äimärautio (Oulu), K-Rauta Otra-Nekala (Tampere).