The Union road transport and highways ministry has recommended green registration plates for electric vehicles (EVs) so as to identify them for preferential treatment, such as special parking or discounted tolls.

The ministry will soon issue a notification specifying the colour of the plates to be used by these vehicles, two senior government officials said on condition of anonymity. According to the ministry’s proposal, while the registration plates of private electric vehicles will have a green background with numbers and letters in white, those of commercial electric vehicles will have a green background with numbers and letters in yellow, the officials added.

Federal think tank Niti Aayog, which is framing the draft policy for EVs, had recommended green registration plates for such vehicles. It has also constituted a team comprising seven ministries such as power, road and heavy industries to frame guidelines to promote such vehicles.

India currently has four number plates: white background with black numbers and letters for personal vehicles; yellow background with black letters for commercial vehicles; black background with yellow lettering for self-driven rental vehicles; and blue background with white lettering for vehicles belonging to embassies and high commissions.

In addition, military vehicles follow a different system for registration numbers issues by the defence ministry, and vehicles of the President and governors carry red number plates with just the national emblem.

“Having a different colour number plate will distinguish electric vehicles from other vehicles and will help if preferential treatment has to be given to such vehicles for parking facilities and tolling,” said a road transport ministry official.

The ministry is also working on a framework to provide non-fiscal incentives for promoting electric vehicles. “As part of this, we will come out with liberal permit regime for such vehicles. Presently electric vehicles do not get permit to operate commercially,” one of the two officials cited in the first instance said.

Electric vehicles accounted for less than 1% of the 24 million vehicles sold across categories in India in 2017-18, but manufacturers including Mahindra & Mahindra, the largest makers of such vehicles believe that it will be the fastest growing market segment soon.

Mahesh Babu, CEO, Mahindra Electric, said the proposal to have green number plates for EVs is a good initiative considering that electric will be the future of mobility.

“It helps to differentiate and support green mobility. It is there in countries such as Norway,” Babu added.

Industry representatives said that if the EV market has to be given a boost, the government has to come up with more incentives. “Otherwise, it will be difficult to bring down the cost of such vehicles. This is proving to be a dampener. Though GST (goods and services tax) for electric vehicle has been fixed at 12% as compared to 28% for other vehicles, it is not enough. In countries like China, the EV manufacturers get substantial government subsidy,” said an official at industry lobby group Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) who did not want to be named.

Babu said his company doesn’t want any more incentives. “If the FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles) scheme and the current tax structure continue for next two-three years, we are fine. Long term, consistent support for electric vehicles will help the industry and the market ecosystem.”

According to the National Electric Mobility Mission, the government has set a 2030 timeline for ensuring that all vehicles in India are electric ones.

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