This week’s most pointless act from the government comes in the form of different coloured number plates for electric cars to boost awareness, and therefore sales.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is looking at the idea, specifically three options of number plate designs. One design is fully green, one is green instead of the country identifier sits, and the other has a green dot ringed in white to the left. These changes would apply to both front and rear plates.
With these changes, electric cars would become more identifiable, allowing people to know that they’re allowed in bus lanes etc, and to form a super secret group of badass electric car drivers that everyone else will want to be a part of. Well, that’s the theory anyway.
The idea comes from Ontario where authorities allow electric cars to use specific lanes for free. Because of this, EV purchases were higher, so a similar incentive in this country may have the same effect.
The RAC has a different view on this, however. Nicholas Lyes, head of road policy for the RAC says the following:
“While the sentiment seems right, there are question marks as to whether drivers would see this as a badge of honour or alternatively it could foster resentment among existing drivers of petrol and diesel vehicles.
“On the face of it, drivers we’ve questioned 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.”
Air pollution kills 40,000 Brits each year, so today I'm launching a consultation on the use of green number plates to raise awareness of clean cars ⚡⛽https://t.co/TJiy1nUriV
— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) October 22, 2019
He also inserts another point of view: Electric cars are, on average, more expensive, meaning these incentives could yet again be singling out those with lower income.
“Given their relatively high upfront costs, only those drivers that could afford to make the switch to an electric vehicle would benefit [from bus lane incentives] – leaving the vast majority who still rely on 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.”
These are interesting times ahead of us with the electric revolution, and while it’s going to be exciting to see the transition to a more carbon neutral future, it isn’t going to be smooth.