More cars, more license plates: City reveals plan as end of alphabet nears

With Hawaii’s appetite for new cars growing, what’s the City’s plan to make sure drivers don’t run out of license plates for those vehicles?

There’s one way to spot a new car on the road — check the license plate.

If it starts with an “R,” most likely it was recently registered as a shiny new ride.

“Wonderful time to buy a car because the interest rates are so low, banks are so willing, and finance companies willing to loan to all sorts of people applying for those loans,” Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association executive director Dave Rolf said.

Those key factors have increased new car registrations in the state to 9.8 percent in the first quarter of 2013.

The market is predicted to continue going up 7.6 percent this year.

“Almost 46,000 cars for the year 2013, but remember, we were at 32,000 in 2010 and that’s how deep the valley was,” Rolf said.

With more new cars, the DMV is ready to roll out a new “S” series of License plate combinations next year.

That means farewell to “F” plates — they’re being replaced.

“On the plate, the reflectivity diminishes maybe by year 13 to 15, so we replace those license plates and we have it in our budget to re-issue new ones,” City Director of Customer Service Sheri Kajiwara said.

That leaves only “T” through “Z” sequences.

“I’m surprised it’s still going actually. I see the letter “R” going higher and higher, so what happens when we get to Z?,” driver Tracy Sylva said.

There’s been talk of changing the Rainbow design.

“The rainbow is unique to Hawaii, so it should be kept,” driver Gerry Rojo said.

“Keep the rainbow, I mean, look at UH Rainbow Warriors,” Slyva said.

The City says making a change would be costly. So for now, it’s off the table.

That means after reaching “Z,” the letter series will cycle back to A, B, C, D, which won’t be a repeat.

The Rainbow plates started with the letter “E.”

“It depends on the demand, but I’m looking at this number series to last us another five to eight years,” Kajiwara said.

It’s been 23 years since the Aloha State switched from the warrior head plate to the rainbow.

It’s a design that is praised by the Honolulu Police Department for being easy to read.

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