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Electric Vehicles to Get Green Number Plates


Drivers of electric vehicles could soon be using green number plates under Government plans to encourage the uptake of EVs.

According to the government, having green licence plates will make electric cars more visible on the roads and would help drivers of electric vehicles to benefit from certain incentives including access to clean air zones, the use of bus lanes without penalty and free parking.

The primary aim of the scheme would be to increase the sales of electric vehicles, in turn helping the UK reach its 2050 target of net-zero emissions by transitioning over to renewable energy.

Special licence plates for electric cars has already been trialled in the Canadian province of Ontario, which had since seen a rise in electric vehicle sales.

“As the UK moves at pace towards net zero emissions, the initiative aims to raise awareness of the increasing number of zero tailpipe emission vehicles on UK roads,” said the Department for Transport.

“Through the introduction of green number plates, local authorities would have a useful visual identifier should they wish to introduce incentives to promote the use of zero-emission vehicles, such as allowing these drivers to use bus lanes and to pay less for parking.”

The government will consult on the plans for the next twelve weeks, with plans to introduce the green number plates within the next twelve to eighteen months.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, 25,097 purely electric vehicles were registered as new cars in the first nine months of this year, more than double the number over the same period in 2018. Purely electric cars now make up around 1.3% of the total market share.  

“The UK is in the driving seat of global efforts to tackle vehicle emissions and climate change and improve air quality, but we want to accelerate our progress,” said the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

“Green number plates are a really positive and exciting way to help everyone recognise the increasing number of electric vehicles on our roads. By increasing awareness of these vehicles and the benefits they bring to their drivers and our environment, we will turbo-charge the zero-emission revolution.”

Elisabeth Costa, senior analyst at the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), said: “The number of clean vehicles on our roads is increasing but we don’t notice, as it’s difficult to tell clean vehicles apart from more polluting ones. Green number plates make these vehicles, and our decision to drive in a more environmentally friendly way, more visible on roads. We think making the changing social norm noticeable will help encourage more of us to swap our cars for cleaner options.”

However, Nicholas Lyes, head of roads policy at the RAC, said: “While the sentiment seems right, there are question marks as to whether drivers would see this as a badge of honour or alternatively it could foster resentment among existing drivers of petrol and diesel vehicles.

“On the face of it, drivers we’ve questioned don’t seem too impressed – only a fifth think it’s a good idea and the majority said the number plates wouldn’t have the effect of making them any more likely to switch to an electric vehicle.”

Fergus Cole
Fergus Cole

Fergus is a journalist specialising in the personal finance, energy and broadband sectors. He also has a passion for travel and adventure so tries to make the most of this in any spare time he gets.

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