Electric cars could get green number plates to make them easier to spot

22 October 2019, 01:27 | Updated: 22 October 2019, 09:27

Drivers of zero-emission vehicles could be given green number plates to make it easier for them to benefit from schemes designed to promote cleaner cars.

The green plates would make them easier to spot so they could use bus lanes without being fined, or pay reduced parking fees.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has launched a consultation on the scheme as part of the government's £1.5bn strategy to cut road pollution.

In June the then Prime Minister Theresa May pledged that the UK would produce net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. A key part of that promise will be to drastically reduce or eliminate vehicle exhaust fumes.

And it would have the added benefit of reducing the amount of particulates in the air - small particles that can severely affect lung and heart function.

Potential green number 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

Special number plates have been trialled in Ontario, Canada, with drivers of electric vehicles given free access to toll lanes and high occupancy vehicle lanes. The city subsequently 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.

"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."

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The DfT hopes more people will consider buying cleaner cars when they see the plates.

Elisabeth Costa, senior director at the Behavioural Insights Team, which is part-owned by the Cabinet Office 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."

Data published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders shows 25,097 purely electric new cars were registered during the first nine months of the year, more than double the figure during the same period in 2018.

The government recently announced a doubling of funding for electric vehicle charging points on residential streets.

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