Electric car sales rise

An electric charging point which some London boroughs see as part of their parking responsibilities

The pandemic is having a major effect on the global economy and companies in some sectors, such as aviation and oil production, are struggling to stay afloat and the car industry has also taken a hit with sales of new cars – “Dropping 4.4%, the weakest ever September” say the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), who represent the UK automotive industry.

But if you look deeper into the data you can see that a small, but noticeable, shift is occurring in the sale of electric and hybrid cars. “More encouragingly, battery electric and plug-in hybrid car uptake grew substantially to account for more than one in 10 registrations as new models continue to increase consumer choice,” say the SMMT.

In the year to September 2020 the sales of electric-only cars increased by 185% from 7,704 to 21,903 while the sale of plug-in hybrid cars increased by 138%.

But where do you plug in?

This raises a question for people living in Rye – where there are no electric charging points. Much of Rye, especially the medieval historic core, cannot readily accommodate kerbside charging of electric cars and the multitude of alleys and twittens that make Rye so charming don’t have access to the kerb let alone off-street electric charging points.

[Editor’s note : For in-comers born outside Sussex a “twitten” is a “ginnel”, as we called them up North – a narrow alley between walls or hedges like Hucksteps Row off Church Square in Rye – but neither word gets into my Oxford English dictionary!]

No car park in Rye (whether run by RDC, Network Rail, Jempson’s or privately owned) has an electric charging point and, as far as Rye News is aware, no one has any plans to introduce charging points any time soon.

This leaves people who are looking to replace their car in the coming years with a problem. The UK government has announced a ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars from 2040 (and have recently said they aim to bring that forward to 2035 to keep the UK on track to achieve its target of emitting virtually zero carbon by 2050).

A chicken and egg situation

We seem to be in a chicken and egg situation. Local authorities and national bodies, like Network Rail who own the station car park, say there’s no demand for them to install electric charging points in their car parks but, seeing as there are no electric charging points in Rye, surely that’s an insurmountable barrier to upgrading to an electric car for a lot of people in Rye.

The uptake of electric vehicles is patchy across the world, but sales of electric cars are increasing. In Norway nearly 70% of new cars sold in the last year were electric or hybrid. In the UK it may be closer to 10% at the moment, but a tipping point is not far away.

Car makers themselves are quickly adapting to an electric future. Volvo are on course to deliver 50% fully electric new cars in 2026. Even the mighty Ferrari have announced that 60% of their sports cars will be electric hybrids as soon as 2022.

Two questions for you

It would be interesting to know the answer to these questions:

If electric charging points were installed in Rye (say within the next five years) would that encourage you to buy an electric car?

In addition, who do you think needs to take the lead on getting the electric infrastructure installed in Rye? Town council, district council, county council, car park operators, other?

You can use the comment box below to respond or email info@ryenews.org.uk.

[Editor’s note: As the top photo shows, the council responsible for parking policy and its implementation has in other parts of the country taken on board such changes as car clubs and charging points for electric cars – which, in Rye’s case, is East Sussex County Council who will probably say “well Rother District Council (RDC) has not asked for them yet” and RDC will possibly say “Rye Town Council hasn’t asked for them yet”]

Image Credits: Kevin McCarthy .


  1. Hi, I am keen to replace my vehicle with an electric or hybrid but don’t have a drive where I could trail a cable out to charge it. Iden has the nearest charging point. I’d be keen to see charging points in some of our car parks, to enable me and perhaps others to make the switch but also for visitors.

    • Me too – I would love to go electric. I assume you have already contacted the relevant authorities/operators to request charging points?

      In London we have discrete charging points in the base of lamp-posts too … and you use an app on your phone to control/process the charging. Perhaps we could have something similar in Rye – without the need to add charging stations on the streets.

  2. Hi,
    At Hands of Hope Charity, we run an electric van to deliver veg boxes and growing kits around Rye. It’s the same van I used to deliver parcels for the Food Bank during the lockdown. It works brilliantly, has zero emissions and has a range of more than 150 miles per charge (when I remember to plug it in). But, at the moment, it only works because we’re able to charge it up overnight at the farm. There’s no way it would be viable if we were reliant on our local public charge points.

    Since the original article was written, the Department for Transport has brought forward the date for ending sales of (non-hybrid) petrol and diesel cars to 2030 and announced a plan to invest in infrastructure (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-takes-historic-step-towards-net-zero-with-end-of-sale-of-new-petrol-and-diesel-cars-by-2030). These are actually commitments lifted from the 2019 Labour Party manifesto but it’s good to see cross-party consensus on getting something done. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to have translated into an noticeable action in Rye. And hence many of us still can’t make the transition no matter how much we want to. Perhaps one of councillors or our MP would like to comment?


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