Cali requires a Front License Plate...but there is no place to mount!!!

Cali requires a Front License Plate...but there is no place to mount!!!

...Or is there? Sorry if this question has been answered before. I didn't find this topic after a quick scan of the forum.

Not sure about other states/countries but California issues 2 license plates and requires that both front and rear plates be properly displayed! I dropped by the Tesla showroom at Santana Row and the Tesla folks agreed with me that there is no place to mount a front license plate. They also indicated that the front grill work of the Model S Beta in the showroom are final production!

Seems like a silly thing to worry about but drilling holes in my new Sig S isn't something I'm looking forward to doing. I suspect Cali isn't the only state with this requirement. Right?

Again, if this is covered someplace else, just point me to the discussion. Note, I'm also worried that there could be a significant impact to the cars drag coefficient (Cd) and a resulting impact to mileage.

phb | January 8, 2012

Impossible to say for certain without reading the statute from the specific state you're talking about, but I would be surprised if it said more than something like: motor vehicles shall, at all times, display a license plate on the rear of the vehicle." (or something similar)

It's the states that require front and back that likely need an exception in the rule to allow for cars from states that only require rear plates.

I'm an Oregon resident but while I was living in Tennessee I didn't have the front plate on my car and never had a problem. Because very few card have rear plates it doesn't stand out the way it would have at home.

dsm363 | January 8, 2012

WIth modern cars, I don't understand how the states can't come up with some alternative solution such as vinyl decals of plates or something other than bolting a physical plate to the front bumper. Most cars aren't designed anymore with a front plate in mind.

Brian H | January 8, 2012

There are lots of functional requirements to be balanced. Visibility, difficulty in stealing too easily, annual replacement, etc. Wouldn't be surprised if plates soon incorporate RFID chips.

Timo | January 8, 2012

Thinking of RFID chips, plates are mainly for law enforcement and other governmental agencies identification and with tech advances it could be easier in near future for law enforcement to just ask the car "who are you?" with some directed radio connection. If the car has internal gps locator it could as well broadcast its presence using radio if someone asks who it is. Plates can become obsolete pretty soon, cars will only have ID-numbers. That kind of ID also makes "stolen plates" problem a lot harder for criminals to do.

I also bet that it is technically easier to do than any visual plate identification.

Teoatawki | January 9, 2012

Plates are a complicated issue. Originally, they were the driver's license and the driver took it with him when he left the car. Then plates identified vehicles and that appropriate taxes had been paid. Now they have a larger role in photo ticketing and toll collecting. Even with RFID or other electronic tagging, there is still a need for human readable identifiers. "Yes, officer. Right after I heard the shots, I saw this oddly quiet red car going very fast down the street with the license plate BITEMEBP!"

Timo | January 9, 2012

How many of you actually remember and even see a plate that isn't some vanity plate like "BITEMEBP"? How about stolen plates? You can't trust that car having some plates is actually the car those plates belong to.

An much less visible low-tech ID probably is useful in case of abandoned cars and stuff like that, it doesn't need to be huge plate in front and/or in back of the car. A serial number somewhere in back of the car written in centimeter high numbers would do.

brianman | January 9, 2012

"Tesla Model S # 1206 seeking police attention. Driver is going 73mph in a 35mph zone. Traveling south on Tesla Avenue."

"Who is this? This is a police channel!"

"A smart car, you idiot. Ticket this fool before he wrecks me."

Robert.Boston | January 9, 2012

Any car company foolish enough to design a car that would report its driver to the police will have very, very few customers. ;-)

ncn | January 11, 2012

No news on front bracket so far.

I agree, a bracket such as on the Roadster or Camero *will* increase the drag coefficient and reduce mileage, probably by quite a lot.

Frankly, it is unbelievably stupid to design a car without an inherent front license plate bracket, even if it is a common thing to do. I really hope Tesla hasn't been unbelievably stupid just because "other car companies do it".

Remember, guys, you were founded because other car companies *are* stupid! You're not required to make the same mistakes they do! At least make different mistakes! :-)

Volker.Berlin | January 19, 2012

Tesla will have a front license plate solution for Model S. Aerodynamic impacts of a front license plate should be minimal.

From an email by Walter Franck (Tesla Motors?) to brianman, via:

mwu | January 19, 2012

Interesting -- I wonder whether they mean that they plan on doing something to make the aerodynamic impact minimal or whether they mean that a front license plate in general minimally impacts aerodynamics. Sounds promising, but also very unclear.

EdG | January 19, 2012

Some have suggested that a front plate would incur aerodynamic problems. My guess is it wouldn't. The front of the car has to push air to the sides and up and down to allow the car to pass. The front center point of air resistance is probably the least sensitive place in the front half of the car.

brianman | January 19, 2012

While I liked his answer (Tesla is paying attention to the concern), I still would like the tow point answer (in case I don't like their "solution" once it's revealed).

Robert.Boston | January 19, 2012

You Californians do all sorts of crazy things through the public referendum process -- surely you can get the front-plate rule repealed?

Maybe that's Tesla's plan; their nation-wide network of lobbyists are arranging to repeal all front-plate requirements for EVs!

BYT | January 19, 2012

@Robert, they want to capture the plates for speed traps and carpool lanes on the bridge, ect. so they will not take it down for those reasons (they wouldn't want to miss out on that extra money).

Robert.Boston | January 19, 2012

@BYT: but if the citizens pass a referendum, the authorities won't have any choice. Even California bureaucrats can't promulgate regulations that contradict state law.

BYT | January 19, 2012

You have more faith in government then I do my friend, I know power to the people but the people are kinda lazy.

brianman | January 19, 2012

It's a Washington state problem too.

Jason S | January 19, 2012

@Brian H -- I didn't know my dad did a handyman show. ;-)

"If the women don't find ya handsome, they should at least find ya handy!"

Brian H | January 20, 2012

Jason S;
I think the Red Green character is/was a distillation of quite a few dads ...

Mine did a S-load of work on our Ford Custom, then the Fairlane Station Wagon, in the 50s, but I don't recall much use of Jesus Tape.

;) LOL

DallasTXModelS | April 8, 2012

3/5 or 30 states and Washington D.C. require a front license plate be attached to your vehicle to be street legal. I live in Texas, one of them, and would really like to see the front license plate mount in at least one photo. Too many cars delivered to Texas come with what looks like an afterthought of a license plate mount. With the satellite radio almost not allowed on the Model S without a panoramic glass roof I really hope that the license mount will look like it was designed for the car not slapped on at the last minute before delivery.

Crow | April 8, 2012

They found a solution for the sat radio issue. You will be able to get it without the pano.

stephen.pace | April 8, 2012

@Kroneal: When @DallasTXModelS said "almost not allowed", they were referring to the period before the change was announced that pano was no longer required. The implication being, with higher priority items being fixed like that right up to release, perhaps they'll halfass the license plate holder. I'm trusting that won't be the case, though.

I'm from Houston, so I can usually translate for those that live in Dallas, although sometimes it is challenging. :-)

Brian H | April 9, 2012

What do you do with those from Austin? RU that good?

Thumper | April 9, 2012

Definitely want it to be fully fast not half fast.

stevenmaifert | April 9, 2012

Item iii: They provide a front license plate mount in those states/countries that require one because they are required to. If you peruse Tesla's Facebook page you will see examples of front plates on the Roadster.

stephen.pace | April 9, 2012

@Brian H: Unfortunately, no. Someone from California is usually required to translate for the Austin folks. :-)

DallasTXModelS | April 28, 2012

@Brian H

@Stephen.pace: Considering how may Hollywood types have relocated to Austin.

@Original subject of post: As of yesterday 4/27/12 per an email from Tesla they still have not finalized the front license plate holder.

Brian H | April 29, 2012

Yes, a badly infected city. Sterilization with a neutron bomb may be required. <;-(

petero | June 24, 2012

Glad I watched the Fremont Delivery vid. At about 14:22 into the video it showed the “gorgeous- to die for” front license plate holder. When my TM call to configure comes, I am insisting the holder and screws be placed in the “Frunk.” Don’t drill holes in the nose cone of my rocket ship.

If I decide to display a front license plate (CA resident), I will install a more attractive aftermarket holder. Two of my cars have the front license plates in the trunk - I have been driving that way for years!

Volker.Berlin | June 24, 2012

petero, unfortunately, in Germany, I doubt that you would even make it across town just once without a license plate on the front. Ugh.

richard | December 8, 2013

I own a Machine shop and have a lazer cutting machine and made my own. It clamps to the front grill. Not exactly aerodynamic but legal and no drilling holes in your 100,000 car all stainless steal and looks descent. the frame is made from mirrored stainless. I'm working on some different designs to make it more appealing this is my first iteration. if you want some pictures I can send you some. I don't know how to add an attachment to this post.

richard | December 8, 2013

My email is

Brian H | December 8, 2013

web-host the images, then click "Save Image Location" in the context menus of the full images. Insert in this HTML:

<img src="URL" width="600">

I.C.E.Stalker | December 9, 2013

Found 3 possible legal solutions for States that require front license for Model S. Checkout these videos.

FRONT LICENSE PLATE installation ideas.

Disappearing Plate:


JJ Cleghorne | December 9, 2013

Perhaps this is the solution.

Saw one on Porsche Cayman once. I'm not sure if was from this particular manufacturer, but it sure worked beautifully.

Note: I have no affiliation to this product or manufacturer.

Antinomie | December 9, 2013
weeandthewads | December 9, 2013

It makes a lot of sense to eliminate the front plate; cost of manufacturing, gas mileage, etc. But front license plates are here to stay. The new traffic camera's are tracking plate numbers and movements. Shortly, law enforcement will be able to search for wanted plated ID's and send updates to patrol cars. It isn't long before those plate numbers are matched to owners and the names sold to advertisers so that travel routes can be matched to certain demographics and road side advertising directed to the demographic.

JohhnyS | December 9, 2013

I met an owner who glued magnets to the inside of the nose cone and glued magnets to the back of the license frame. He added a couple of suction cups to the license frame for safety. He has a removable front license plate.

jcaspar1 | December 9, 2013

California requires them. I have never had one on any of my cars for 20 years. Never have had a ticket for it.

2050project | December 10, 2013

Here are seven approaches to the front license plate in an excellent article:

CeeTwo | December 10, 2013

A San Diego PD officer, while ticketing me a few years ago for an illegal left hand turn in my BMW that did not have a front license plate - told me that, at least in so far as the SDPD was concerned, they will not ticket someone solely for not having a front license plate - but if they pull you over for something else and you don't have a front plate, they will write it up - if they notice it - and he did and he did. I notice most Model S's I see around here do not have the front plate. Nor do Porsches.

JeremiahJ | December 10, 2013

I have been ticketed 4 times for no Front plate. Twice at LAX, once at John Wayne Airport and once by Irvine PD (along with a BS stop sign ticket). On all my previous cars, I have made a clamp on license plate frame so that I can get the tickets signed off. I intend to do the same with my MS.

In Cali, I recommend putting on the front plate before you go to any Airport. Other than that, I wouldn't worry about it.

JacksonB | January 13, 2014

Just got nailed on the 15 near Miramar in SoCal for not having a front plate. CHP was behind me and four lanes to my left (I luckily spotted him early or would have gotten a speeding ticket). I saw him accelerate and quickly move to the lane next to me, slow, down go ahead of me and then pulled back and pulled me over. He clearly knew that Tesla owners do not put on front plates, and came up to check me out. While I was waiting for the ticket, I was six other cars without front plates buzz on past.

jakwtc | February 23, 2014

I live in Seattle and received my Tesla 3 months ago I was told that it was at my own risk but that people drive for years without the front plate with no problems from the cops. So far I haven't had a problem yet.

Captain_Zap | February 23, 2014


You might want to look at this poll and the comments from a Washington State thread. There has been some ticketing.

rpalstring | August 10, 2014

Here's your solution. I ordered the SST

quinney | October 16, 2014

Note that torkliftcentral's solution is INCOMPATIBLE with Model Ss manufactured with the autopilot radar sensor in the front grill.

Haggy | October 16, 2014

I bought the hooks at Lowe's a few weeks before I took delivery. Now I have no place but the nose to hang a plate.

eVader | October 16, 2014

Before going down to SoCal I will have to rig up something for a front plate with the stories of owners getting popped. In the Sac/Bay Area/Sierras we have not been pulled over in 16 yrs with our car not having a plate.

Cars are more aerodynamic and the plate disrupts the air flow (but mainly looks bad on a Tesla R or MS, Vette, 911 etc).