Electric cars in the UK could be fitted with green number plates to ‘raise awareness’ of battery-powered propulsion and help create more consumer demand.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced that three options are being looked at; a totally green number plate, a green band on the left where the blue EU standard national identifier badge used to be, or a small green circle in the same place, ringed in white. Both number plates would bear the same changes, but if the band or circle are chosen, the white front and yellow rear plate design will stay.
The idea is both to give local authorities a way of seeing which vehicles are allowed to use any special permissions like access to bus lanes, and to create an extra layer of desire among drivers to get one for themselves. Y’know, to join the special club that you’ll never truly be part of because, y’know, you didn’t buy an EV before they were cool.
Inspiration for the move comes from Canada, where EV drivers in Ontario could use all toll lanes and car-share lanes for free. The area saw an upturn in EV registrations, so it’s thought that similar incentives could work in the UK.
The RAC isn’t too impressed, though. Its head of roads policy, Nicholas Lyes, 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.”
Pressure is mounting on the government to provide financial incentives to owners of older, more polluting cars, in a similar way to the fabulously expensive ‘scrappage’ scheme of the late 2000s. Campaigners including Friends of the Earth are pushing for it, and the RAC is right behind the idea. Mr Lyes continued:
“Given their relatively high upfront costs, only those drivers that could afford to make the switch to an electric vehicle would benefit [from bus lane incentives] – leaving the vast majority who still rely on 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.”