Green number plates: ‘badge of honour’ bid to boost EV sales

Ultra-low emission vehicles may get special lanes and other new benefits

Go Ultra Low Nissan LEAF electric car
EVs such as the Nissan Leaf could qualify for the special plates
(Image credit: Miles Willis/Getty Images)

Vehicles with low-exhaust emissions may be awarded green number plates that give them special privileges, under new Government proposals aimed at encouraging EV sales.

Plans under consideration by ministers would see environmentally friendly vehicles given the plates as a “badge of honour”, along with incentives such as “access to special bus or low-emission vehicle lanes”, The Independent says.

Launched yesterday, the consultation could lead to the establishment of a UK scheme within five years. Similar schemes are already in operation in Canada, China and Norway.

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The two government bodies behind the new proposals, the Department for Transport (DfT) and Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), have yet to outline exactly which vehicles would be entitled to green plates.

As Auto Express notes, OLEV classes an ultra-low emission vehicle (ULEV) as a car that emits just 75g/km of carbon dioxide. Examples of ULEVs include the latest generation of plug-in hybrids such as the new Toyota Prius, as well as all-electric cars including the Nissan Leaf.

Will the plans boost EV sales?

Possibly. Hybrids and electric vehicles accounted for around 5.5% of all new car sales in the UK during the first half of 2018, The Guardian reports.

Although that is a 1.3% increase over the same period in 2017, the Government believes a more proactive approach is needed to promote ULEV ownership.

Transport Minister Chris Grayling says the green plate scheme 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”.

But the Environmental Transport Association, a breakdown cover provider for low-emission cars, claims the proposals do not go far enough.

“To be truly effective, any such initiative will need to at the same time shame the drivers of the most polluting vehicles,” a spokesperson told The Guardian. “An electric or hydrogen-powered vehicle might sport a green plate, but the biggest gas guzzlers should have theirs branded red.”

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