By on April 8, 2014
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Step back from your monitor and just try to read that license plate.

You know those “wait! what?” moments? So I’m perusing a local news site and I see what is surely a press release from Michigan’s Secretary of State, Ruth Johnson, about how the Automobile License Plate Collectors Association (ALPCA, Inc.) has overwhelmingly voted to select Michigan’s new mostly blue and orange license plate depicting the state’s Mackinac Bridge as the world’s best new automotive registration plate. First released last summer, the new plate portrays one of the world’s great spans against what the SoS’ office calls a “sunrise sky”. The registration numbers are white, the background is mostly orange and an almost parakeet blue. In addition to the press release, the SoS’ office also released a photograph to commemorate the award, with Sec. Johnson, and the Bridge Authority’s chairman and secretary jointly holding up the award. So what could be surprising about that announcement? It took place a couple of weeks after a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office specifically told me that the license plate their office describes as a “beautiful plate” is going to be redesigned due to complaints about illegibility from law enforcement officers. (Read More…)

By on June 30, 2013

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The news that the police departments in California routinely scan and record license plates to create a database that can be used to retroactively track any driver’s motions and activities broke at political and civil liberty websites and is now percolating through the autoblogosphere. Jack Baruth wrote about it here at TTAC yesterday. Jalopnik has picked up the story today. Like the current issue over NSA monitoring of electronic communication involves balancing national security with Americans’ privacy from government intrusion, recording and tracking license plates can be a useful tool in solving crime but it also seems contrary to American values and rights like freedom of motion and freedom from random surveillance without probable cause. Still, if I had a vote on the matter, since law enforcement in this country hasn’t exactly had a sterling record in protecting civil liberties, I wouldn’t trust them with this technology. Who knows how the political system will eventually deal with this news, but in the meantime remember that for every technology there is some way to defeat it. In this case, it might even be legal. (Read More…)

By on February 22, 2013

 

I have a mild obsession with license plates. Which is to say that I often pay extra for those special plates that I think look cool, but no one else ever notices. I also know a lot of weird license plate-related facts. Like, for example: did you know the last number in a Massachusetts plate corresponds to the month it expires? I proudly trot out that one every time I see a Masshole on the road. Surprisingly, my passengers never seem quite as intrigued as I am.

Occasionally, there are benefits to my license plate obsession. For example, I can always spot cars owned by annoying acquaintances in restaurant parking lots, which spares me from actually having to speak to them. And I have the immense honor of being the go-to person whenever my friends have a registration-related query.

One of the questions I get most commonly is: why do so many expensive cars have Montana license plates? And so, I will now answer that, virtually assuring that TTAC will lose the wealthy exotic car owner and Montana attorney readership, but perhaps gain a following among county tax commissioners.

(Read More…)

By on July 23, 2012

While stopped in traffic on the 405 today, I gazed at the California license plate on the Mini in front of me, marveling at the clever phrase that Sacramento has chosen to promote the Golden State: “dmv.ca.gov.” (Read More…)

By on July 1, 2012

The sprawling city Guangzhou in southern China sprung a nasty surprise on its (pop. 12.7 million citizens: it drastically slashed the number of new cars being registered. Observers predict that this move could have far-reaching consequences on the Chinese car market. (Read More…)

By on March 19, 2012

Allegedly, China’s enthusiasm for new cars has waned. Don’t tell that to a Shanghainese. In Shanghai, exuberant carbuying has been dampened by limiting the amount of license plates, which are auctioned off. In March, prices of new license plates hit a record high. The average bid for a license plate was 58,625 yuan (9,380 U.S. dollars), Xinhua reports. (Read More…)

By on October 5, 2011

The woman in this video ended up in handcuffs and jail in the District of Columbia. Her crime? Her tags had expired. This was last year. And it was no isolated occurrence. To this day, people are routinely thrown into the nation’s capital’s slammer if they forgot to renew their license plate. (Read More…)

By on June 25, 2011

With a population approaching that of Australia and car sales of 700,000 new cars, or 890,000 new cars (depending on which issue of China Daily you rely more), Beijing used to be one of the most important car markets in the world’s largest car markets, China. As amply documented by TTAC, the car market in Beijing collapsed completely after city fathers ruled that new registrations have to try their luck in a license plate lottery first.

China’ top economic planners at the National Development and Reform Commission NDRC see their economic plans threatened, and are “appealing” to Beijing to change its policy. (Read More…)

By on June 22, 2010

Unsure of what to do about its nearly $20b budget deficit, California is entertaining some pretty wild ideas. And no, not legalizing and taxing marijuana. According to Yahoo News, State Sen. Curren Price is introducing legislation that would replace license plates with digital versions which

would mimic a standard license plate when the vehicle is in motion but would switch to digital ads or other messages when it is stopped for more than four seconds, whether in traffic or at a red light. The license plate number would remain visible at all times in some section of the screen.

Yes, advertising on license plates. Ray LaHood’s distracted driving crusade be damned, California is on a mission to prove that the movie Idiocracy was right. Luckily there’s a slight hitch…

(Read More…)

By on January 25, 2010

Want to move to Shanghai to cash in on the Chinese car boom? Want to drive a car in Shanghai? Better bring a lot of money.

Prices for a license plate in Shanghai rose to at two year high in the year’s first plate auction, Shanghai Daily reports. The average price of a private car license rose to US$5,617. A new QQ goes for as little as $4,100. (Read More…)

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Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States