Government consults on green license plates for electric vehicles

The UK Government has launched a consultation on introducing green license plates for electric vehicles (EVs) to make them easily recognisable and gain access to benefits such as cheaper parking and access to bus lanes.

The UK's EV market grew by a record-breaking 19% in 2018, with one EV being registered every nine minutes

The UK's EV market grew by a record-breaking 19% in 2018, with one EV being registered every nine minutes

The Government is consulting on how the license plates should look. The three preferable options being discussed are a fully green plate with black lettering, or adding a green flash or dot to traditional plates.

It is hoped the move will raise awareness of the increased number of EVs on UK roads and incentivise further uptake of clean vehicles, with the easily recognisable plates set to gain access to free or cheaper parking or access to bus lanes in city centres.

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.”

Responding to the announcement, Engenie’s chief executive Ian Johnston said: “If we’re serious about transitioning to a low-carbon transport system, then incentives such as reduced parking fees for EV drivers, or allowing them to drive in bus lanes, is a no-brainier. These developments will help to boost driver confidence, alongside the rapidly expanding public charging infrastructure network that is now in place across the UK.”

"It is critical that we do more to incentivise a switch to green, clean transport - green number plates are a step in the right direction, but risk being just a gimmick for sandal wearers,” Octopus Electric Vehicles’ chief executive Fiona Howarth added.

“Car manufacturers like Tesla, Audi, Nissan and Jaguar have created amazing cars, and now local and national governments need to take the steering wheel and truly drive the uptake. At a national level, it is essential that the plug-in grant - currently giving £3,500 off an EV - is extended and that the UK continues to hold car manufacturers to emissions targets, especially should we no longer be part of the EU regulations post-Brexit."

Road to Zero

The green license plates form another area of legislation as part of the Government’s Road to Zero Strategy, which was launched in July 2018. The strategy details how a £1.5bn investment into EV research, development and infrastructure will help phase out petrol and diesel sales by 2040.

It also sets out how the Government intends to phase out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040, highlighting low-carbon fuels and hybrid vehicles as solutions to bridge the transition in the meantime.

An interim target of ensuring more than half of new car sales and 40% of new van sales are ultra-low emission by 2030, while capturing 46 new measures to drive a zero-emission road transport sector across seven key pillars. These are reducing emissions from existing vehicles; driving EV uptake; greening heavy goods vehicle (HGV) fleets; investing in green vehicle design and manufacturing; improving EV infrastructure and supporting local action.

However, the UK Government's official climate change watchdog has warned ministers that the Road to Zero strategy will not be sufficient to meet national and international climate targets. Since that warning, the UK has increased its climate ambitions to legislate for net-zero emissions by 2050.

The UK's EV market grew by a record-breaking 19% in 2018, with one EV being registered every nine minutes. Research from Go Ultra Low found that almost 60,000 fully electric and plug-in hybrid EVs were registered in the UK last year.

Commenting on the launch of the green number plate consultation, Go Ultra Low Ambassador Ben Fogle said: “As someone going through the process of getting an electric car at the moment, the potential to benefit from extra incentives only adds to the appeal. Drivers of electric vehicles could enjoy even smoother journeys, as it becomes easier for local authorities to incentivise EV ownership, through measures such as allowing them in bus lanes and access to free parking.

"These come on top of existing benefits such as helping to improve local air quality; running costs from as little as 2p per mile; reduced service maintenance and repair costs; and exemptions from congestion and clean air zone charges. As the list of reasons to choose an EV becomes even longer, there really is no better time to consider making your next car electric.”

Matt Mace


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