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Alfa Romeo Is Dropping Its Offset Front License Plate for Safety Reasons

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When you think of Alfa Romeos, two design details probably spring to mind: The upper “hidden” rear door handles and the offset front license plate. The former went away in 2020 when the Giulietta was discontinued, but came back with the Junior. The latter is about to be dropped and is unlikely to return. From now on, all of the company’s models will have the number plate in the center. If you prefer symmetry, this is good news.

Why is this happening? Due to a new pedestrian safety regulation. Alfa Romeo’s design boss Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos told Autocar the change is forced by the European Union’s General Safety Regulations (GSR). Apparently, putting the plate in the middle lowers the risk of injuries. Since we’re not safety experts, we’re reaching out for a more detailed explanation. It’ll be interesting to know whether this decision will also impact the design of cars sold outside of the 27 EU countries.

For now, the decision seems exaggerated for a couple of reasons. How does the EU know where the pedestrian is going to impact the car’s front end? Is the license plate really going to make things a lot worse when a car smashes into you? While we wait for some presumably logical explanations, we’re proposing two solutions.

Just get rid of the front license plate altogether, just like the many states in the US where it’s not mandated. If that’s too much, a decal surely must be better for pedestrian safety than a combination of plastic and metal sticking out from the front of the car.

Alfa Romeo has already conformed to the new legislation by giving the Junior a centrally mounted plate. The company’s instantly recognizable scudetto is still fully visible since the plate is mounted low on the bumper. The design chief confirmed the next-generation Giulia and Stelvio EVs are getting a “fresh interpretation” of the V-shaped shield. It’ll have a closed-off design since there won’t be a combustion engine in need of cooling.

Although the EU is pretty much forcing Alfa Romeo’s hand to ditch offset license plates, Mesonero-Romanos is ok with it: “This will allow us to have symmetry anyway, so I am happy–I’m one of the guys who likes the plate in the middle.”

Although the asymmetrical layout has been around since the 1950s, there were plenty of models that had a center-mounted plate. Cool cars such as the SZ and GTV had the front license plate in the middle, as did the Montreal, Alfetta, and Alfasud.

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