The Government has given the go-ahead for pure electric vehicles (EVs) to be identified by a green number plate starting from an as yet unconfirmed date this autumn.
The new registration plates aim to make it easier for cars to be identified as zero emission vehicles, helping local authorities design and put in place new policies to incentivise people to own and drive them.
For example, drivers could benefit from local initiatives such as cheaper parking and cost-free entry into zero-emission zones where those with a green number plate will be recognised as eligible.
The plates will be identifiable by a green flash on the left-hand side and will be available for zero emission vehicles only.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “Green number plates could unlock a number of incentives for drivers and increase awareness of cleaner vehicles on our roads, showing people that a greener transport future is within our grasp.”
The Government launched a consultation on introducing green number plates for zero emission cars last autumn, highlighting their use by countries like Norway, Canada, and China.
A similar scheme was trialled in Ontario with drivers of EVs given free access to toll lanes and high occupancy vehicle lanes. Ontario saw an increase in EV registrations.
Alongside the decision to give the new number plate design the go-ahead today (Tuesday, June 16), the Department for Transport (DfT) has also announced £12 million funding for research into the zero-emission market to develop greener vehicles and help improve vehicle charging technology.
The funding, made available through the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and delivered through Innovate UK, will see £10m for a new Zero Emission Vehicle Innovation Competition.
It will invite applicants to bid for project funding to support advancements in both battery electric and hydrogen vehicles, as well as charging infrastructure.
OLEV is also providing £2m to UK small and medium businesses to support their research into zero-emission vehicles in areas such as battery technology, which could be used by major vehicle manufacturers in future electric vehicle production.
The funding, says the Government, will help these businesses to drive local economic growth through research and development projects in areas including charging infrastructure and zero emission vehicles, which could in turn create over 6,000 skilled jobs.
Shapps concluded: “We’re supporting small businesses to develop the transport tech of the future through a multi-million pound investment, ensuring that UK businesses remain at the forefront of low carbon innovation and research.’’
Dan Hutson, head of motor insurance at comparethemarket.com, said: “Providing an added incentive for drivers to go green could help accelerate the uptake in electric vehicles.
"However, this needs to fit alongside a range of measures to help motorists switch to greener vehicles, otherwise the overall cost remains a significant barrier for many. Our own research shows that 3.7 million drivers are likely to switch to an electric car in the next three to five years but further measures to support eco-conscious drivers could help boost this number further.”