New 70-plate marks arrival of green number plates for electric cars

Tuesday 1 September marks the arrival of the 70-plate number plate, with the new registration being the first to feature a green slash for electric cars.

The first EVs registered with a 70-plate registration are unlikely to get the green plates, which are due this autumn, Nissan has shared images of the green plates being fitted to a Leaf to show how the design will look.

The green strip for EV number plates was announced in June by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps in order to both further raise the profile of battery-powered cars, and pave the way for future incentive schemes that will encourage the take-up of electric vehicles.

Rather than being a fully green plate, EVs will have conventional white and yellow plates on their front and rear, but the plates will feature a green vertical flash on their left-hand side. 

The green plates are being spearheaded by the Department for Transport (DfT) ahead of a ban on the sale of all new internal-combustion engined cars from 2035, and the UK’s aim of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

The plates will make it easier to identify electric cars, enabling local authorities to design and implement new policies that will encourage more people into them, such as cheaper parking and free entry into clean air zones.

London’s Congestion Charge Zone already grants free access to the Capital’s central district for owners of EVs, though drivers must pay £10 and register their electric car, a process that needs renewing every year. 

But, even if future clean air zones rely on the same DVLA data rather than green flashes on number plates, ministers may hope that by increasing the prominence of EVs, future car buyers may be nudged into the electric revolution, the green plates acting as something of a badge of virtue.

The move to introduce green number plates followed a consultation launched late last year, with the proposals inspired by a scheme in Ontario, Canada. The Canadian programme sees EV and plug-in hybrid drivers given free access to toll lanes and car-pool lanes, even if only one person is in the car, and has led to an increase in EV purchases.

Concerns have been raised over privacy, though, with fears the plates could make further use of the UK’s vast network of automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras.

The Government’s independent Surveillance Camera Commissioner previously warned green number plates could lead to “an unqualified extension to the role of ANPR”, a network that makes at least 10 billion number plate scans a year, and issues around £100 million in fines annually.

Announcing the green EV number plates back in June, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “A green recovery is key to helping us achieve our net zero carbon commitments while also promoting economic growth. 

“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.”

At the same time, the DfT also announced a further £12 million in funding for research into EVs and hydrogen cars, relating both to propulsion systems and infrastructure, money the Transport Secretary says will help UK firms “remain at the forefront of low carbon innovation and research.’’ A further £2 million will be made available for small and medium-sized businesses working on zero-emission research. 

Commenting on green plates, Edmund King, AA president, said: “Having a green flash on the number plate may become a badge of honour for some drivers. We support this concept which shows that the EV revolution is now moving from amber to green.”

Click the image below for our gallery of the best electric cars you can buy right now…

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