The Government has launched a consultation on introducing green number plates for electric vehicles in a move to encourage EV uptake.
The licence plates, which would be introduced across the UK, would use a bespoke design featuring green detailing of some form to make EVs easily identifiable. This would enable drivers to benefit from local incentives such as free or cheaper parking while helping the Government with its target of net zero emissions by 2050.
The plans are being based on a similar scheme trialled in Ontario where drivers of electric vehicles have free access to toll lanes and high occupancy vehicle lanes, which is said to have led to an increase in EV registrations.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “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 director at the Behavioural Insights Team, added: “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.”
The consultation has been welcomed by Europcar Mobility Group UK. Managing director Gary Smith said: “Europcar Mobility Group UK offers its customers sustainable mobility solutions including electric vehicles for rent. However, it is difficult to convince consumers to opt for electric and, therefore, all the incentives that can be offered by Government are to be welcomed.
“Green number plates for electric vehicles is an excellent innovative way to make it easier for local authorities to offer a range of advantages, from driving in bus lanes to additional parking. But we need more from Government in terms of financial incentives to purchase electric vehicles and grants to enable companies to transition to electric.”
But RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said there were question marks as to whether drivers would see the number plates as a badge of honour or alternatively whether the move 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,” he explained.
“Incentives may make a difference in the short term and the possibility of free parking and the permission to use bus lanes at certain times could encourage some to switch, however many drivers remain cool on the idea even with this encouragement. Also, if these perks were to do their job and encourage people to switch, councils would have to quickly get rid of them again as they’d be losing parking revenue and no doubt be accused of allowing bus lanes to become clogged with electric vehicles. Given their relatively high upfront costs, only those drivers that could afford to make the switch to an electric vehicle would benefit – leaving the vast majority who still rely on a petrol and diesel cars losing out.
“We continue to believe that the best way of encouraging drivers to ‘go electric’ is for the Government to be providing the right financial incentives at the point of purchase, and investing in better charging infrastructure.”
To access the consultation on green number plates, click here.