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Why don’t Teslas have front license plates? Four Reasons.

By January 4, 2024January 24th, 20243 Comments
Model Y Curve Wide

If you live in one of the 29 US states that requires front license plates, you might start to wonder if Teslas are somehow exempt from those laws. It seems like more Teslas don’t have them than do. As Tesla owners and inventors of SnapPlate front license plate mounts, we know why this is better than most, so let’s break down four of the biggest factors that contribute to the question – “Why don’t Teslas have front license plates?”

Short answer:

  1. Not all areas enforce front license plate laws.
  2. Tesla typically delivers vehicles without license plate holders installed.
  3. Many Tesla owners are car enthusiasts who care more about aesthetics than potential tickets.
  4. Non-permanent license plate holders like SnapPlate are available.

1. Not all areas enforce front license plate laws

Many states don’t require front license plates, but even in states that do, outside of major cities, enforcement of those laws can vary widely.

Take California, for example. In Los Angeles and San Francisco, parking enforcement officers will often write tickets for no front plate since it makes parking enforcement harder and it’s easy revenue for the cities, but enforcement is much less common in smaller citities.

In either case, they are typically “fix-it” tickets that can be signed off by an officer with a small fee once they’re corrected, but there is still a financial cost and time spent fixing it. As a result, many owners simply go without a front plate until they are cited and then install a non-permanent mount like SnapPlate just long enough to sign the ticket off.

2. Tesla typically delivers vehicles without plate holders installed

With one exception, Tesla has crash tested and delivered vehicles to customers without the OEM license plate holder installed. Instead, it’s in the trunk at delivery. This is very different from traditional car manufacturers and it’s not 100% clear why they do it this way, but here are some likely reasons:

  • Many states don’t require front license plates, so Tesla doesn’t install them at the factory.
  • Instead, cars are delivered to customers with the adhesive or screwed-on mount in the trunk and the delivery center will install it on request, but many customers choose removable mounts like SnapPlate instead.
  • This ultimately saves Tesla money when customers install the mounts themselves.

3. Many Tesla owners are car enthusiasts

Some car owners are just looking for an appliance to get from point A to point B, but enthusiasts value much more about their chosen vehicles. They join clubs, deck their vehicles out with accessories, and put extra thought and care into every aspect of how the vehicle looks and performs.

Just like Porsche, Subaru, Jeep, Rivian, and many others, Tesla owners are often enthusiasts who care about how their vehicles look and they don’t like the perceived blemish of a front license plate. There are many reasons for this:

  • Front license plate holders typically require drilling holes for screws in the bumper or using semi-permanent adhesives that damage paint over time.
  • Most holders will damage costly paint protection film and vinyl wraps that are popular with enthusiasts.
  • Enthusiasts often post photos and videos on social media and prefer to not have their license plates on display or they don’t want to have to blur them (sometimes unsuccessfully 👇).

4. Non-permanent holders are available

Most vehicles have one front license plate mount option that is supplied by the manufacturer and is typically installed by drilling holes in the bumper or using semi-permanent adhesives.

Teslas, however, have many aftermarket accessories available including removable front license plate holders like SnapPlate that resolve all of the enthusiasts’ concerns with the OEM mounts:

A growing trend

While the lack of front license plate use has been a thing for vehicle enthusiasts for generations, there’s no doubt that the popularity of Tesla and the huge number of them on the road has made it much more apparent. Whether you’re a strict law-follower or not, I think we can all agree that we don’t want to drill holes in our cars!

Matthew Budraitis

Engineer, product designer, co-founder of EveryAmp, and a dedicated fan of EVs, technology, 3D printing, and making.

3 Comments

  • Verla says:

    I believe that if you live in a state that requires a front license plate on a car and you purchase the car in that state then the dealer should make sure that they have front license plate holders put on those cars.

  • Billy Poteet says:

    I live in Waco, Texas and was pulled over in ‘79 camaro with no front license plate. While getting my ticket, a Trailblazer and a Corvette drove right by the cop with no front plate. Today, there are so many Teslas, Cadillacs, Lexus’ driving around with no front plate. How are the dealers letting them leave the lot without a plate installed? I bought a car new in ‘97 and the dealer would NOT let me take it without a plate installed which meant drilling holes in the plastic.

    I’m restoring my Camaro and get away with a classic, rear only plate but I don’t want to be limited to only driving on weekends. It just pisses me off seeing all these cars with no front plate. If I do that I’ll still be singled out and get a ticket. Another thing, now that we no longer need a vehicle “inspection”, think about how many wrecks are going to occur in the years to comes from cars with bald tires or crappy brakes. A lot of people do not take care of their cars. This will become a trend.

  • So it basically comes down to Telsa owners think they are too special to follow the laws the rest of us have to.

    I think States with Front License Plate laws should raise the fines so that they can reduce the registration fee the rest of us.

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