The government has launched a consultation on introducing green number plates for zero emission cars.
This 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 like free or cheaper parking and encourage greater uptake of new vehicle technology.
The announcement is part of the government’s Road to Zero Strategy, a £1.5 billion package which aims to make the UK the best place in the world to own an electric vehicle.
The government believes green number plates would be a useful identifier for local authorities 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 saw an increase in electric vehicle registrations.
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.”
However there are some that question how effective this measure will be. 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.”