The Government has given the go-ahead for pure electric vehicles (EVs) to be identified by a green number plate.
The new registration plates, which will be rolled out from the autumn, 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.
Lauren Pamma, electrification propositions lead in Lloyds Banking Group’s motor finance and leasing division, said: “It’s encouraging to see that despite the challenges presented by the coronavirus outbreak, sustainability remains high on the agenda for fleets.
"Our business customers have a relatively strong understanding of the environmental and wholelife cost benefits of having EVs on fleet – especially when it comes to tax and national insurance costs – and remain focussed on making the transition where they can.
“For private drivers, the more tangible benefits might be a greater draw – such as access to emissions-restricted zones and better parking spaces, and the cost savings associated with both.
"Making zero-emission vehicles easier to identify on the roads could help to communicate this message and boost advocacy."
Tom Clarke, head of electric vehicle strategy at LV (Liverpool Victoria) General Insurance, added: “The introduction of green number plates from autumn is excellent news, especially given the current climate.
"Drivers looking to make the switch to electric really need to understand the cost benefits of owning one, and as more cities look to introduce zero and low emission zones, it’s positive that drivers will be able to save money on any charges in force.
"Ultimately, this move will encourage the uptake of electric cars, and help the UK towards its ambition of net zero emissions by 2050, as drivers become more aware of the benefits of owning an electric car.”
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.’’
Read how the ULEV Experience project in Milton Keynes is helping companies understand, trial and implement EVs in the latest digital edition of Fleet News.