One third of drivers don’t know what a green number plate indicates

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Fifty-three respondents in a recent poll said that they thought the green number plate means the driver is an Irish national. Thirty-five people thought the driver voted Brexit.

Six months after their introduction, 31% of drivers polled don’t know what the green licence plate indicates, according to an AA survey of 14,719 drivers.

Six in ten (63%) correctly stated that the green slash on the numberplate indicated that this was a zero-emission vehicle. The poll found that younger drivers were more likely to correctly identify this (74%) compared to the over 65s (58%).

Drivers in Wales (59%) and Northern Ireland (54%) were least likely to give the correct answer, whilst those in London, perhaps due to the high density of EVs, were most likely to get it right (66%).

Edmund King, AA president, who was one of the first to get a green number plate last year, said: “The fact that one third don’t know the meaning of a green numberplate didn’t really surprise me as a number of people either stare at my number plate or have asked me about the green plate.

“To encourage a faster uptake, incentives must remain in place to reduce the purchase price of EVs and home chargers. Radical moves like cutting VAT on certain EV models would also speed the uptake.”

The survey about the success of the green number plate scheme comes just three months after ministers decided to cut the PiVG - the Government's grant towards the purchase of a new battery-electric car.

Since 2011, the plug-in car grant has supported over 300,000 ULEVs, of which over 200,000 are zero emission vehicles.

A £3,500 allowance was previously given to those purchasing a new EV with a value of less than £50,000. 
However, in April, the grant was cut to £3,000 and availability trimmed to only models costing less than £35,000. That left fewer than 30 cars on the market eligible for the scheme.

The move appeared to hit sales of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in the month the grant was slashed. In March, BEVs represented 7.7 per cent of all cars registered in the UK. A month later market share fell to 6.5 per cent, with more drivers opting for a plug-in hybrid vehicle instead in April. In May, with more manufacturers making their electric ranges fit the revised scheme, market share rose to 8.4 per cent. 

In an interview carried out by This is Money, a spokesperson for the Department for Transport did not rule out the grant being withdrawn entirely in the future. This suggests that now may be an ideal time to buy an EV under £35,000 - while the £3,000 government grant is still available.