As I reveal daily in TTAC’s Slack channel, I’m a bit geeky in some ways. One of the ways this manifests is through a fascination with license plates (I am not alone in this — Mr. Guy shares my geekiness on this topic, perhaps going beyond my own level).
I think this comes from living most of my life in the northeast corner of Illinois. It’s a near-daily occurrence to see Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, Missouri, and even Ohio plates due to simple geographic proximity. Factor in tourists and people snagging rental cars, many of which carry out-of-state plates, and if you live in or near Chicago (or any big city, really), you see a good cross-section of the nation’s plates.
Last week, we pondered a semi-subtle Nazi-themed decal applied to the rear window of a Volkswagen CC (that obviously blocked the driver’s rearview of history). After we posted that piece, another reader supplied the image above, which shows a Volkswagen GTI sporting a novelty plate that directly links the Führer’s People’s Car with the Nazi execution of nearly 6 million Jews.
Are Volkswagen fanboys the most likely car enthusiast group to show full-on anti-Semitism?
Michigan Trumpets Award for "Beautiful" License Plate Design That It's Already Revising Because It's Illegible
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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