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Green number plates proposed for electric cars

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22/10/2019
Electric vehicles could soon have special green number plates to help drivers benefit from incentives and encourage take-up of zero emission cars.

The government is consulting on introducing green number plates, which would make electric cars easily identifiable if local authorities introduced incentives to promote zero emission vehicles, such as allowing these drivers to use bus lanes and to pay less for parking.

A similar scheme was trialled in Ontario, Canada with drivers of electric vehicles given free access to toll lanes and high occupancy vehicle lanes. Ontario saw an increase in electric vehicle registrations.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “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.

“Green number plates are a really positive and exciting way to help everyone recognise the increasing number of electric vehicles on our roads.”

Elisabeth Costa, senior director at the Behavioural Insights Team, which works with governments, local authorities, businesses and charities, 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, research by the RAC found only a fifth of people think green number plates are a good idea.

Nicholas Lyes, RAC head of roads policy, 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.

“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.”

Potential plate designs include:

  • a fully green number plate with black lettering
  • the addition of a green flash on the plate
  • the addition of a green dot or symbol

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