Friday 1st November 2019
Green number plates for electric cars let drivers park for free and use bus lanes

Zero emissions vehicles will reap some great benefits with new green number plates.

RAC reports:

Green number plates for zero tailpipe emission cars will be introduced to help their drivers to benefit from local incentives such as free or cheaper parking and using bus lanes.

The government initiative aims to raise awareness of the increasing number of zero tailpipe emission vehicles on UK roads, help their drivers to benefit more easily from local incentives and encourage greater uptake of new vehicle technology.

Through the introduction of green number plates, local authorities would have a visual identifier should they wish to introduce incentives to promote the use of 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 with drivers of electric vehicles given free access to toll lanes and high occupancy vehicle lanes. Ontario reportedly saw an increase in electric vehicle registrations.

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “While the sentiment seems right, there are questions as to whether drivers would see this as a badge of honour or foster resentment among existing drivers of petrol and diesel vehicles.

“On the face of it, drivers we’ve asked 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.

“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.”

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.”

The announcement of this consultation on green plates hopes to bolster the Government’s Road to Zero Strategy, a £1.5bn package of support which aims to make the UK the best place in the world to own an electric vehicle. Since the strategy’s publication, the UK has seen record numbers of zero emission vehicles registered and the Government has marked its intention to be the first G7 country to legislate for net zero emissions by 2050.  

The consultation seeks views from industry and the public on a number of aspects surrounding the scheme, including vehicle eligibility; number plate design; and, the rollout of the plates.

It follows the Transport Secretary’s recent announcement that he has doubled funding for chargepoints on residential streets, to help make charging an electric car easier for those without access to off-street parking. The Government is also currently reviewing responses to the consultation on requiring chargepoints to be built into all new homes with a parking space.

One would initially think that free parking and bus lane use would incentivise UK drivers to go electric sooner. However, it may be that the UK public would rather see changes to large upfront costs and charging capabilities that are barriers to many for purchasing a zero emissions vehicle.

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