• Electric cars
  • Dec 08, 2020

Green number plates have arrived, and owners of fully electric vehicles (BEVs) can display a small green ‘flash’ of colour on their number plates.

Where can I get a green number plate?

To get plates fitted to your older EV, all you need to do is turn up at your local retailer with the car’s V5 logbook and some proof of identity (a UK Driver’s Licence will do nicely) and the plates can be made up while you wait. Check out your local independent car product shop, who may charge you less than a big retailer like Halfords.

Who qualifies for a green plate?

New and existing EV drivers will be able to display a fully green plate, with a green vertical flash on their left-hand side. EVs will follow the convention of white and yellow plates on their front and rear. Hybrid cars are not eligible.

The green flash should be:

  • colour Pantone 7481c or very similar
  • between 40 and 50 millimetres in width
  • retroreflective for 24 hour visibility

The green plates can be retro-fitted to existing Zero Emission Vehicles – that is any vehicle that currently has CO2 emissions of 0g/km. You can find a vehicle’s emissions, to see if it’s eligible for green plates using the Government car fuel and CO2 emissions data tool.

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What incentives are there for cars with green plates?

The green strip for EV number plate scheme was announced by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps with the hope that it would both further raise the profile of BEVs (100% battery-powered cars), and pave the way for future incentive schemes to encourage the take-up of electric vehicles.

There’s no doubt that, if enough EV drivers opt to get the plates, it will it raise profile instantly. But while cheaper parking and free entry into clean air zones have been suggested, no local incentives had been announced ahead of the scheme going live.

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 to benefit from this, and the process needs repeating annually.

The green number plate proposals were inspired by a Canadian scheme that gives BEV and plug-in hybrid drivers free access to toll lanes and car-pool lanes, even if only one person is in the car. The scheme has led to an increase in EV purchases.

Could a green plate mean higher speed limits?

One possible bonus for EV drivers is the prospect of being exempt from variable speed limits brought in to reduce peaks in air pollution. As more and more of us move into electric vehicles, this incentive may be more long-lived than allowing private cars into bus lanes or reducing revenue from local car parking.

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,

Announcing the green EV number plates back in June 2020, 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.”

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