Electric cars hit the road with new green license plates – Which one? News

Starting today, you will start to see new green rectangles on some license plates, which means the vehicle has zero tailpipe emissions.

This latest move is part of a wider government initiative to make our roads greener, which will also end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans in the UK by 2030.

In addition to new vehicles, green license plates can also be retrofitted to existing zero-emission vehicles. Keep scrolling for details.


The best electric cars – our top picks offer virtually all the functionality and practicality of traditional petrol or diesel cars


Diagram of green license plates explained

First announced by the government in June 2020, the green license plate scheme officially comes into force today (8 December 2020).

These new number plates will feature a green bar on the side (see below), associated with the Union Flag and any national identifiers. The plates will be applied to all new electric cars sold.

If you already have a zero-emission car, van, bus or motorbike, you can fit a green number plate to it for around £40 from a motoring retailer such as Halfords.

However, hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars will not be eligible for the green number and will also be phased out from 2035.

The government believes the scheme will boost sales and the plates could make it easier for local councils to spot greener vehicles for cheap parking or a congestion charge scheme.

However, we have yet to hear any concrete details about savings programs for owners of the new green plates. If you’re thinking of spending the money on a new set of plates, you might want to wait until the benefits are clearer.


Browse our full selection of experts electric car reviews to see which models offer zero tailpipe emissions and the potential for low daily running costs.


Is the UK ready for electric cars?

Today’s electric vehicle charging network is bewilderingly complex, with many different networks, most of which require you to register before charging your car.

According to our own data (collected as part of the Which?* car survey), 78% of electric car charging happens at home, suggesting that the majority of electric vehicle owners have a driveway. But not everyone has an entrance, so more needs to be done to make the public network bigger, simpler and more accessible.

Lisa Barber, Which one? the car publisher said: “The government is to be commended for wanting to raise the profile of zero-emission vehicles, but to help make electric cars a viable option for UK consumers, the public charging network must become more bigger, simpler and much more accessible than it is today.

For more details on home charging and public charging, see our expert advice guide on how to charge an electric car.

Will hydrogen cars have green plates?

A hydrogen car is effectively an electric vehicle, but its energy is generated not by on-board batteries, but by chemical reactions between hydrogen and oxygen in the fuel cell.

These vehicles officially emit no CO2 emissions, which means that there is no road tax the first year, or even the following years. They should also be eligible for a green license plate.

However, the downside of hydrogen cars is that they are still in their infancy and currently have incredibly limited infrastructure. There are only 11 stations in the UK where you can currently fill up with hydrogen.


Learn more about these types of vehicles with our expert hydrogen car reviews.


* (Data from the 2020 Which? Car survey, fieldwork December 2019 to February 2020. A total of 47,013 UK car owners told us about 55,833 cars, including 1,016 electric cars.)