Green plates for green cars: Britain boosts zero-emission transport

17 June 2020 - 08:51 By Reuters
Britain will introduce a distinctive number plate for electric cars later this year to help promote cleaner vehicles.
Britain will introduce a distinctive number plate for electric cars later this year to help promote cleaner vehicles.
Image: Warut Sintapanon / 123rf

Britain will introduce a distinctive number plate for electric cars later this year to promote cleaner vehicles, the transport secretary said on Tuesday, as the country targets net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The new plates, which will carry a bright green stripe down one side, will help authorities identify electric vehicles, making it easier for their drivers to access incentives such as cheaper parking and exemptions from emissions charges.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said the initiative would raise awareness of cleaner vehicles and show Britons “a greener transport future is within our grasp”.

“A green recovery is key to helping us achieve our net-zero carbon commitments while also promoting economic growth,” he said in a statement.

Additionally, the government has allocated £12m (roughly R260.3m) to fund research into zero-emission technology, including developing greener vehicles and improving existing car battery charging technology.

Tuesday's announcement follows a public consultation in October as part of the government's £1.5bn (roughly R32.4bn) “Road to Zero” strategy to slash emissions from road transport.

Only zero-emission vehicles will be eligible to receive the new registration plates.

Leading automotive services company RAC Ltd said the move alone was unlikely to spur real change in consumer behaviour and called for further financial incentives to encourage drivers to make the switch.

“We'd like to see more direct financial incentives to bring the cost of EVs (electric vehicles) down, as drivers tell us it's the cost that's one of the biggest barriers to them opting for an EV,” RAC spokesperson Rod Dennis said.

The Telegraph reported last week that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was considering giving drivers up to £6,000 (roughly R129,444) to swap their diesel and petrol cars for electric vehicles.

Edmund King, president of British motoring association AA Plc, said the distinctive licence plates could instil a sense of pride among drivers, adding that more than a third of AA members backed the initiative.

“Having a green flash on the number plate may become a badge of honour for some drivers,” he said in a statement.


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