Skip navigation

Electric cars to get free parking and bus lane access


Drivers of electric vehicles are to be allowed to use bus lanes and given free residential parking permits in parts of the UK, the government has announced.

Electric car charging

The government is spending £40 million on perks for drivers of electric cars in a bid to encourage the take-up of more environmentally friendly vehicles.

Ministers have just announced plans that will see plug-in electric cars allowed to use bus lanes in parts of the UK, while owners are also set to benefit from free parking and fee-free charging stations.

Pilot schemes

The new measures will be introduced in a handful of cities initially with a view to a national roll-out at some point in the future.

The areas which will trial the new measures – part of the government’s "Go Ultra Low" scheme – are Bristol, Derby, London, Milton Keynes, Nottingham and London.

Former Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "These Go Ultra Low cities have proposed exciting, innovative ideas that will encourage drivers to choose an electric car.

"I want to see thousands more greener vehicles on our roads and I am proud to back this ambition with £40 million to help the UK become international pioneers of emission cutting technology."

'World leader'

McLoughlin added: "The UK is a world leader in the uptake of low emission vehicles and our long-term economic plan is investing £600 million by 2020 to improve air quality, create jobs and achieve our goal of every new car and van in the UK being ultra-low emission by 2040."

Electric car charging

The Department for Transport said that around 25,000 parking spaces would be made available to plug-in vehicles, saving owners as much as £1,300 a year each.

As part of the new plans:

  • London will create "ultra-low emission zones" in areas such as Harrow and Hackney. Here, street lights will be reconfigured to double as charging stations, while electric cars will be able to park for free in some areas.

  • Milton Keynes is to open up bus lanes – rebranded as "low-emission lanes" – to plug-in vehicles. Such cars will also be given the same priority at traffic lights as buses.

  • Bristol will give free residential parking to electric cars and the city will introduce a leasing scheme that allows plug-in vehicles to be rented for up to four weeks.

  • In Nottingham and Derby, 230 charging points are to be installed, while 13 miles of bus lanes will be made available to electric vehicles.

Mainstream option?

Poppy Welch, head of the Go Ultra Low programme, said she hoped the proposals would encourage other local authorities to invest more in electric-car infrastructure.

"With thousands more plug-in cars set to be sold, cutting running costs for motorists and helping the environment, this investment will help to put the UK at the forefront of the global ultra-low emissions race," she added.

Sales figures for plug-in vehicles have risen steadily over recent years and DfT figures show that, up to last summer, almost 40,000 such cars had been registered in Britain.

Electric car charging

But a fully fledged electric revolution may be some way off: research carried out recently by the AA found that less than 10% of its members would consider an electric or hybrid vehicle as their next purchase.

Tax changes

Changes to the vehicle excise duty (VED) system planned for 2017 are unlikely to help matters, the organisation said.

AA president Edmund King said: "When it comes to electric cars the jury remain out on this one – hardly surprising given the high up-front cost and range-anxiety being an issue for some.

"Potential hybrid purchasers may be in for a big shock post-April 2017 when a new car tax system for new cars comes into play: after that date only pure electrics will benefit from zero annual car tax.

"All other cars will face a £140 annual car tax bill and cars costing over £40,000 will face a £310-a-year surcharge too."


Car insurance

Compare quotes from up to 111 providers all in one place

Get a quote