A worldwide 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, according to a news release.
The move is being taken to help ensure there is enough material to produce first-time plates, NCDMV said in the release.
Normal first-time plate production is between 400 and 500 a day. But the older plate replacement program, passed into law by the General Assembly, meant that figure this year has been about 10 times that number.
More than 640,000 replacement plates were produced in the first four months of this year, with about another 1.4 million projected to be needed for the rest of 2021, according to the release.
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 in person received their plates at that visit. There is no customer charge for getting the new plate.
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 the middle of this month, NCDMV officials said.
There is no timetable for when the issuance of the replacement plates will resume. The plate replacement program initially was to start July 1, 2020, but was pushed back to this year because of COVID-19 impacts, according to the release.