Government Considers Introducing Green Number Plates

The green revolution is catching on and government, companies and individuals are all embracing green initiatives in an effort to reduce our collective carbon footprint. From renewable energy to using less plastic, we are all innately aware of what we need to do to ease the pressure on our planet. And with evidence of climatic change everywhere around us, it is becoming increasingly clear that we need to step up these efforts; which is why our topic for today could turn out to be one of the best things we’ve heard to date, at least in relation to climate change.

Reducing Reliance on Fossil Fuels to Power Vehicles

One of the ways the motoring industry is moving towards greener, more sustainable technologies is by reducing reliance on fossil fuels to power vehicles. This has seen an increase in hybrid and electric cars on our roads as more and more people become conscious of how these vehicles reduce emissions. In fact, in recent times major manufacturers including BMW, Volkswagen and Hyundai have chosen to focus more on developing these greener cars, devoting a huge chunk of their Research and Development for this purpose.

And this focus is translating to more hybrid and electric vehicles on UK roads, accounting for more than 5.5% of all new cars on UK roads in 2018. This is a significant increase from 4.2% seen during the same period in 2017. This is a trend that the UK government is also promoting heavily with the Department of Transport announcing a plan to encourage people to drive low-emission vehicles.

Proposed Green Plates

In the very near future, clean cars, taxis and vans will be easily identified using green registration plates. This is according to a recent government consultation designed to see if the idea might catch on in the UK. The proposal is already under implementation in other countries including Norway and China, both of whom allow drivers to show that they are taking a sustainable approach to driving. These number plates are likely to give drivers access to low emissions lanes and dedicated low-emissions zones which can decongest the roads a little bit more.

But we must point out that this proposal is only in its initial consultation stage which started in September 2018. There is still no official word from the government when this new plan will be rolled out. But the plan is likely to be delayed by Brexit negotiations. But an initiative of this nature would not take too line to implement. Using the Netherlands as an example, personalised number plates in the Netherlands were on the road for a little under one year before the proposal was passed. With the same timelines, it is likely that green number plates could be on the road by November 2019.

Hurdles to Green Car Ownership

For the green number plates initiative to be successful, the number or people willing to purchase electric cars or hybrids has to increase. The truth is, more and more people are willing to purchase electric cars, but many people have raised some concerns about the viability of owning an EV. Some of these concerns include the following;


The average electric vehicle has a range of about 80 to 100 miles. This means that most electric cars as they are today would not be viable for those travelling long distances. An EV may be ideal for everyday short commutes, but you would need to ensure the batteries are full if you are going on a longer trip. The only exception is Tesla models and they are out of reach for the average motorist in terms of price.

Long Charging Time

Long charging times may also make it more difficult for most people to buy an EV. On average it takes much longer to charge an EV than to fill up a traditional car with fuel. Again, this is an issue of timing. If you only use your car for daily commutes, then you could charge the car at night. It is not so practical when you have to take a longer trip.

Limited Variety

Despite most manufacturers now venturing into the electric car space, there is still a very limited numbers of EVs in the market. They are also a lot more expensive as compared to traditional vehicles and even EVs that are more affordable are unlikely to be impressive in terms of range and charging time.

As research and development continues, it is likely that this will change very soon and the future EVs will take all these factors in consideration. It is certainly encouraging that the government considers the industry important enough to introduce green number plates.


Digital Number Plates

With everything going digital, it was only a matter of time before number plates and vehicle registration also became digitized. While the digitization of number plates may not happen tomorrow, there are several countries in the world already exploring the possibility. It is no surprise that one of the places you can get on the digital number plate band-wagon is Dubai. It would make sense that Dubai would explore this possibility given the millions of Pounds they already spend on developing the most advanced technology hub in the world.

number plates on car

The announcement came from Dubai’s Sultan Abdullah al-Marzouqi, head of vehicle licensing at Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). He recently said that the RTA was rolling out digital (smart) number plates that are expected to slowly come into operation, phasing out the more traditional number plate. And as you can imagine, these digital number plates, much like your smartphone, will have capabilities we don’t usually associate with number plates.
For example, once the program rolls out, drivers in Dubai can expect real-time traffic updates from their smart number plate as well as information about the changing conditions on the road. These plates will also be able to warn you if there is an accident on the road, allowing you to easily avoid unnecessary delays. They will also have a feature that allows you to communicate with other drivers on the road in real-time, which if for nothing else, may eliminate the many instances of road rage. But perhaps their most important feature is the ability to contact emergency services in real-time.

The possibilities of Digital (smart) number plates

These digital plates will be matched to a driver’s user account or profile. This will make it easier for users to tackle certain issues much easily including paying for parking fees, renewal of vehicle registration and even payment of fines all online. This digitization will not only make the whole process of vehicle registration much easier, but also make the average driver’s life much easier.

Yet, in many ways, digitization of number plates will significantly reduce the instances of number plate theft. For example, in the proposed Dubai version of digitized number plates, a stolen car number plate might have a visual alert on it indicating that it has been stolen. This alert would go up as soon as the plate’s owner indicates on their profile that their number plate has been stolen. This will not only make it easier to catch number plate thieves, but will also deter would-be number plate thieves.

As you might imagine, any such plan will cost any government a pretty penny to set up and it is natural that this cost would affect the number plates themselves and the cost of registering your vehicle. Dubai has not provided details on the total cost of the project, but the benefits in many ways outweigh any costs involved. In the long run the extra we may have to pay to get smart number plates may well be worth it if it means less bureaucracy in vehicle registrations.