September is a big month for car buyers. Not only does it see the emergence of some of the best deals of the year as dealers capitalise on interest in new motors, it also welcomes in the latest registration plate.
And this year, it not only marks the debut of the 70 plate but also the sight of green ones for the very first time.
Brand new zero-emission electric vehicles ordered this month will likely be the first to feature a green strip on their number plates, which is designed to boost the profile of battery-powered cars and pave the way for future incentive schemes, which could allow them to use bus lanes and park for free in town centres.
September seventy plate arrives: The ’70’ registration for new cars bought this month will also be the first where electric vehicles purchased will have a flash of green on the number boards
Nissan has shown its dealers fitting new electric Leaf models with the number plates with the green flash on the left side, which will be seen on plug-in models from this autumn.
The initiative was announced by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps in June as part of a wider plan to drive a ‘green economic recovery’ after the turmoil caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The green number plates will make it easier for cars to be identified as zero-emission vehicles, helping local authorities design and implement new policies to encourage people to own and drive them.
For example, drivers could benefit from local initiatives such as cheaper parking and free entry into zero-emission zones.
Mr Shapps said the plates are part of a £1.5billion drive to stimulate the economy by accelerating zero emission motoring.
They will also ‘increase awareness of cleaner vehicles on our roads and show people that a greener transport future is within our grasp’, he said.
So far in 2020, battery electric cars account for one in 20 new vehicles registered.
However, with demand up by 175 per cent this year, zero-emission vehicles are going to become more commonplace on UK roads in the not-too-distant future,
A Nissan spokesman said: ‘Anything that encourages electric vehicle use is to be encouraged and we think the green plates will prove incredibly useful in terms of raising awareness of the benefits of emission-free motoring.’
Ministers hope the perks will encourage motorists to go electric by turning green plates into a sought-after status symbol.
The move is intended to offer a shot in the arm for Britain’s auto industry which has been crippled by the coronavirus crisis.
Nissan has shown its dealers fitting new electric Leaf models with the number plates with the green flash on the left side, which will be seen on plug-in models from this autumn
However, motoring groups have warned the incentives could fuel resentment among petrol and diesel owners who are unable to afford the high up-front cost of zero emission vehicles which can be £10,000 more expensive to purchase.
Edmund King, president of the AA, welcomed the switch to partially green numbers plates and said that 37 per cent of his organisation’s members had backed their introduction.
‘Having a green flash on the number plate may become a badge of honour for some drivers,’ said Mr King.
‘We support this concept, which shows that the electric vehicle revolution is now moving from amber to green.’
But the RAC said it was not convinced the new plates would provide much incentive for motorists to opt for greener cars.
Rod Dennis, a spokesman for the organisation, said earlier this year: ‘While this is well-intentioned, we don’t believe green number plates on their own will do much to make people switch to an electric car.
‘We’d much prefer the Government looked at things like bringing in the right financial incentives.’
Could incentives for electric cars with green number plates require an increase in Big Brother tactics in the UK? The Surveillance Camera Commissioner says so
Back in February, the Surveillance Camera Commissioner – the regulator for the use of CCTV and Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras in Britain – also warned that the special treatment for green-plated vehicles would require an expansion of cameras on the road network.
‘The view of the ANPR IAG [independent advisory group] is that the green number plate is an unqualified extension to the role of ANPR.
‘Where is the evidence to prove that the extension to the ANPR function is justified?
‘Limited evidence was presented that car drivers want green number plates or that it is for the benefit of society. Therefore, the legality was questioned.’
It added: ‘Clean air is fully recognised as being paramount. The group felt there was limited evidence that this scheme would significantly contribute towards that.’
The report added that the extended role of cameras to police green number plates for such a high value scheme is ‘beyond the initial purpose of ANPR and further stretches its legitimacy’.
As well as concerns over privacy, the commissioner also warned that fraudsters could easily cheat the system by fitting green plates to non electric cars to use bus lanes during operating hours and park for free.
‘Consideration given to incentives for green plates could lead to misrepresenting plates on vehicles – cloned plates,’ the report went on.
‘This leads to a greater risk to the national ANPR system regarding the potential of more cloned plates on the road.
‘The process of getting green number plates should therefore be tightly controlled.’
The SMMT has ear-marked September as the month that shows if the UK motor industry is recovering from the impact of Covid-19
The motor industry’s trade body has said that September will be a pivotal month for the sector, which is still reeling from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
With August registration statistics due to be published this week, the latest figures available show that new car sales were up 11.3 per cent in July thanks to pent-up demand from buyers in a rare ray of light for a beleaguered industry.
With dealerships reopening doors on 1 June in England following more than two months of closures, 174,887 sales were recorded in July – the first full month most were open – according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
This increase was the first since December but year-to-date demand is down more than 40 per cent and the latest forecast by SMMT predicts a full-year drop of around 30 per cent in 2020.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: ‘By the end of September we should have a clearer picture of whether or not this is a long-term trend.’
What are the best deals you can strike on new cars?
Analysis leading up to the arrival of the new 70 plate on September by What Car? has found that motorists can save up to a fifth on the price of popular new cars, including the nation’s most-bought SUV, the Sunderland-built Nissan Qashqai.
Mystery shoppers who negotiate and haggle to cut the best deals on new motors at showrooms across the country on behalf of What Car? found that dealers have cut cash prices on new cars by an average of 7.7 per cent in the lead-up to September.
This works out at an equivalent of £3,066, it says.
However, discounts on some of Britain’s most popular models exceed 20 per cent ahead of the September plate-change.
Get ready for the September car sales: Nissan dealers are already willing to know 21% off the RRP of a 1.5-litre diesel Qashqai as showrooms prepare for what is set to be the biggest month for registrations in 2020
|Model||Trim||OTR||% Cash Saving||TP Cash Saving**|
|Nissan Qashqai||1.5 dCi  N-Connecta||£26 770||20.9%||£5,471|
|Volkswagen Touran||1.5 TSI EVO SE||£28 905||20.5%||£5,676|
|Mercedes-Benz E Class||E220d AMG Line Edition 4dr 9G-Tronic||£41 710||19.1%||£7,653|
|Suzuki S-Cross||1.4 Boosterjet 48V Hybrid SZ4||£20 759||17.5%||£3,501|
|BMW 2 Series Coupe||M240i [Nav] Step Auto||£41 550||16.9%||£6,655|
|Nissan Micra||1.0 IG-T 100 N-Sport||£17 525||16.2%||£2,794|
|Seat Ibiza||1.0 SE [EZ]||£16 475||16.1%||£2,609|
|Vauxhall Grandland X||1.2 Turbo Griffin||£28 855||15.9%||£4,423|
|Seat Ateca||1.5 TSI EVO SE [EZ]||£24 750||15.7%||£3,852|
|BMW 5 Series||530e M Sport 4dr Auto||£51 545||15.7%||£7,930|
|Mini Convertible||2.0 Cooper S Classic II||£25 155||13.8%||£3,312|
|BMW X2||sDrive20i M Sport Step Auto||£38 010||13.4%||£4,901|
|Source: What Car? Target Price. ** % Cash saving takes into account OTR less delivery and registration fees. Prices correct at the time of writing|
Nissan’s popular Qashqai can be had with a 21 per cent saving from dealers, while the luxurious Mercedes-Benz E-Class saloon is being offered with 19 per cent off.
Popular small cars, including the Seat Ibiza and Nissan Micra, are also being discounted, with salesmen happy to slash 16 per cent off retail prices.
Other in-demand models to feature in the list include compact crossover favourites such as the BMW X2, Seat Ateca, Suzuki S-Cross and Vauxhall Grandland X.
If you have a large family and need an MPV, the VW Touran is a quality prospect. Dealers will know 21% off the price of 1.5-litre turbo petrol right now
Mercedes’ classy E-Class is available with savings of up to 19%, if you choose a diesel variant
Suzuki’s S-Cross is an often-overlooked crossover. It has family-car credentials, a great reliability track record and – right now – deals knocking £3,500 off the £20,750 asking price
The selection of popular cars with big discounts doesn’t just include family cars and sensible choices. The sporty BMW 2 Series Coupe is among the best deals
Sporty models, like the BMW 2 Series Coupe and Mini Convertible, are subject to discounts of 14 and 17 per cent respectively.
And for those looking for a spacious family car, the plug-in hybrid BMW 5 Series and petrol VW Touran have had prices slashed 16 per cent and 21 per cent respectively.
While motorists can strike these deals in showrooms for themselves, these discounts are guaranteed for buyers who use What Car?’s online new car buying platform.
Buy a Nissan Micra 1.0 IG-T N-Sport – like the one pictured – right now and you can save up to 16% on the RRP, the equivalent of £2,800
The Micra isn’t the only in-demand supermini in the list of best deals found by What Car?. Seat’s Ibiza is also subject to savings of 16%
Buy a Vauxhall Grandland X 1.2 Turbo Griffin and you can save up to 16% – which works out at 4,400 off the asking price
Across powertrains, diesel vehicles are available with the highest savings, with the average discount at 8.5 per cent, which equates to £4,547.
Both electric and hybrid discounts have steadily risen since the beginning of the year, too.
The average electric car offered with a 4.7 per cent – or £2,208 – saving in August and could increase this month as dealer begin to prepare selling EVs with green plates.
Buyers can negotiate almost £4,000 off the price of a new Seat Ateca in the lead-up to September
BMW is offering a discount of 16% (or £7,930 off) its plug-in hybrid version of the 5 Series – the 530e M Sport. With demand for alternative-fuel vehicles very high right now, that’s a good deal
Thinking about making the most of what remains of summer 2020? The Mini Convertible is one of the models you can get big discounts on in the leas up to the 70-plate change
The final car to make the cut is BMW’s new X2 crossover. Despite only arriving in the UK in 2018, dealers will shave 13% off the £38,000 asking price – a total saving of £4,900