NCDMV suspends replacement of older license plates due to aluminum shortage

NCDMV suspends replacement of older license plates due to aluminum shortage
A world-wide shortage of aluminum is forcing the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles to indefinitely suspend its program to replace license plates that are older than six years. (Source: WECT)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) - The N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles said it will indefinitely suspend its program to replace license plates that are older than six years due to a worldwide short of aluminum.

“The move is being taken to help ensure there is enough material to produce first-time plates,” the agency stated in a news release.

The NCDMV said that normal first-time plate production is approximately 400-500 a day, but the plate replacement program signed into law by the General Assembly in 2019 requires an output of ten times that.

Over 640,000 license plates were produced in the first four months of this year with a projected 1.4 million still needed for the rest of 2021.

The NCDMV said that Corrections Enterprises, which handles the plate production, has enough aluminum on hand to make about 160,000 plates, and another shipment of the metal is expected by mid-May.

Officials have no timetable on when the program can restart but said if the suspension continues until later this year, it is likely phase one of the replacement program will be handled in 2022, with phase two moving back to 2023. Initially, phase one was suppose to kick off on July 1, 2020, but that was pushed back due to pandemic-related impacts.

Phase one of the replacement program covers regular vehicle and motorcycle license plates. The second year is for older specialty plates, including personalized plates, commercial, permanent, municipal and state-owned, for-hire, dealers, trailers and farm vehicles.

The replacement plates were automatically sent to customers when they renewed their registration of the older plates online or by mail, while customers who renewed at a local License Plate Agency office received their plates at that visit.

There is no customer charge for getting the new plate.

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