Minnesota News

Just three months after launch, sales of Minnesota blackout plates near 50,000

blackout license plate
A new blackout license plate is seen at the White Bear Lake DVS office on Jan. 9. Tens of thousands of the plates have been sold in the first three months they've been available.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News file

Just three months after they first went on sale, nearly 50,000 of Minnesota’s new blackout license plates are on vehicles traveling the state’s highways.

Predictions of high demand for the plates — which feature a simple design of white letters and numbers on a black background — have held true since they became available Jan. 1.

As of the end of March, the state’s Driver and Vehicle Services Division reported 46,710 of the blackout plates had been sold. Hundreds more have been sold since then.

DVS officials said they expect to sell about 160,000 of the plates this year, which would make it the state’s most-popular specialty license plate.

Greg Loper is vehicle services program director for DVS. He said he heard from people excited to get the new plates months before they officially went on sale.

“They look cool. A lot of people really like for their car to have that look,” he said. “There’s a lot of black cars out there, there’s a lot of white cars out there right now. And so I think that the blackout plate looks cool on cars and it goes with the color scheme of a lot of cars. People are excited that this is just one more way that they can make their car look cool.”

blackout license plate
Gov. Tim Walz holds a new blackout license plate at the White Bear Lake DVS office on Jan. 9.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News file

The blackout plates are among eight new designs that have launched so far this year.

Five of the designs celebrate Minnesota sports teams — the Lynx, Timberwolves, Twins, Vikings and Wild. Of those — the Vikings plates have been most popular so far, with 1,801 sold as of the end of March according to DVS statistics.

The Wild are next at 830, followed by the Twins (714), Timberwolves (373) and Lynx (39).

Loper said that plates for NFL teams have tended to be the most popular in other states that’ve introduced sports team plates.

A replica of a new Minnesota Vikings license plate.
Minnesota Vikings license plates went on sale in Minnesota as of Jan. 1.
Courtesy of Minnesota Vikings Foundation

He also said it’s hard to fully gauge popularity until a full year has passed, and each team has completed a full season when sales would likely pick up. In the case of the Lynx, the WNBA season doesn’t begin until next month.

The state also introduced Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives Office plate earlier this year, with 608 sold as of the end of March. The eighth design launched so far this year was a Lions Club International plate, with 67 sold through the end of March.

Each of the new specialty plates costs $15.50, with a required additional minimum annual contribution.

A license plate-1
Minnesota's new Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives Office license plate, introduced earlier this year.
Courtesy photo

Annual $25 contributions accompanying the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives Office plate benefit the Gaagige-Mikwendaagoziwag Reward Account to raise attention about cases of missing and murdered Indigenous people.

Money raised by Lions Club and sports team plates go toward the charitable foundations set up by each organization. The sports team plates require minimum annual contributions of $30.

And for blackout plates — Loper said the minimum $30 annual contribution goes back to support the operations of DVS, which is self-funded.

“That money goes into the pot of money that the Legislature is able to use to fund Driver and Vehicle Services,” he said. “So this is a way that Driver and Vehicle Services is able to continue to do the great things that we’re doing without having to raise filing fees.”

DVS now offers more than 120 specialty license plates. Loper said the success of the blackout plate launch is a point of pride for his office and colleagues.

“We’re excited about the opportunity that we’ve been given to be able to provide something that the people of Minnesota really want,” he said. “The excitement that’s out there for the blackout plate is something that we enjoy seeing. And it’s kind of fun to look out on the roads when we’re driving along, see that plate and go, ‘Hey, that’s something that we’re doing.’ ”