You can now buy an EV with a green numberplate | CAR Magazine
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You can now buy an EV with a green numberplate

Published: 08 December 2020

► Green number plates for EVs
► Bespoke reg plates to bring benefits
► And also promote electric car use

Drivers of electric vehicles will now be able to show off their eco credentials with a green numberplate.

The measures were first announced in June and according to the Department for Transport, they will help drivers more easily benefit from ‘local incentives like free or cheaper parking,’ or even the use of bus lanes.

What’s more, they’ll be a visible sign of growing EV ownership, and could convince more to jump on the electric bandwagon. Or at least that’s what the government is hoping…

Only zero-emissions, full-electric EVs in the UK will be eligible to carry one of the new green plates. New and old EVs can use them – and no, they’re not mandatory.

Sceptical? Ministers point to a trial in Ontario, Canada, where similar laws resulted in an increase in electric vehicle registrations; but with no given percentage of increase, and such low numbers of ownership to start with, we’ll take that with a pinch of salt.

Green number plates are a really positive and exciting way to help everyone recognise the increasing number of electric vehicles on our roads,’ said transport secretary Grant Shapps. ‘By increasing awareness of these vehicles and the benefits they bring to their drivers and our environment, we will turbocharge the zero emission revolution.’ Did he really say turbocharge?  

What do people think of them?

A third of motorists in the UK would be more likely to buy an EV because of green number plates, according to research from a YouGov poll commissioned by Nissan.

55% of people were unaware that low emission zones were under consideration in towns and cities across the nation.

While 81% of respondents were aware of the environmental benefits of electric motoring, but 53% were unaware of the possible financial gains such as VED and congestion charge exemption and discounted charging and parking in some places.

The survey showed enthusiasm for electric motoring is strong in London, with 50% of residents questioned saying they would be likely to buy an electric car if it made it easier to access the centre of the capital.

Managing director of Nissan Motor GB, Andrew Humberstone, told CAR: ‘The perception is that electric cars are expensive. We’re trying to show that’s not the case. People need to factor in total cost of ownership, the financial benefits, and the perks, like these green number plates.’

What about the rejected designs?

The idea came from a £1.5 billion package of support to promote electric vehicles, and an initial study looked at three different ways to mark out EV number plates: 

  • A fully green number plate with black lettering 
  • The addition of a green flash on the plate 
  • The addition of a green dot or symbol 

The relatively discrete green side flash won the vote – in all other senses the reg plates will be identical to any other number plate.  

Is this the right way to promote electric vehicle ownership, and will plans such as letting EVs use bus lanes actually have an overall benefit on traffic as well as the environment? Let us know in the comments below.

By Murray Scullion

Petrolhead, journalist and traveller. Loves fast old cars and new tech. Deputy editor of sister site,