UK electric vehicles could get green registration plates to boost awareness

Electric vehicle (EV) and ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEV) could be given a special green number plate in the UK to boost awareness and increase the use of alternative fuels.

The plans are contained in a government consultation that seeks the views on the design of the new plates, along with opinions on which cars and other vehicles to which they could be fitted. This comes as Prime Minister Theresa May prepares to address the first-ever zero-emission vehicle summit in Birmingham and Buckinghamshire this week, which will bring together nations from across the globe to pledge collective action towards zero-emission journeys.

Green plates are already used in Norway, Canada and China on green vehicles including electric and hydrogen cars, making them both distinct and visible to other road others.

Britain’s government is searching for ways to boost the uptake of ULEV and EVs for both environmental reasons and to help develop the UK as a country of emissions innovation. In July, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced plans to introduce new charging points for EVs across the country, following reports that a shortage was holding back efforts to get more environmentally friendly cars on the roads.

A study for the RAC Foundation found the mass-market appeal of ultra-low emission vehicles may be restricted without widespread, reliable and easy-to-use charging points. Separate AA research showed eight out of 10 drivers see the lack of charging points as a stumbling block to them buying an electric vehicle.

Announcing the new consultation, Grayling said the UK was already at the forefront of innovation and the testing of clean vehicle technology. ‘This new cleaner, greener transport has the potential to bring with it cleaner air, a better environment and stronger economies for countries around the world,’ he said.

‘Adding a green badge of honour to these new clean vehicles is a brilliant way of helping increase awareness of their growing popularity in the UK, and might just encourage people to think about how one could fit into their own travel routine.’

A spokesman for the Environmental Transport Association said: ‘While green number plates will be positive PR for low-emission car makers and early adopters of the technology alike, to be truly effective any such initiative will need to at the same time shame the drivers of the most polluting vehicles. An electric or hydrogen-powered vehicle might sport a green plate, but the biggest gas-guzzlers should have theirs branded red.’

The move could also inadvertently aid pedestrian safety. There have been concerns that some may not hear the approach of an electric vehicle due to their almost silent running. However, a green registration plate will highlight that such vehicles are on roads, meaning the public can look for a visual sign based on cars nearby.

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