Digital License Plates Gaining Traction in U.S.
Michigan has opted to allow digital license plates, making it the third state – after California and Arizona – to give them legal backing. The state’s legislature passed the necessary laws in 2019, making it legal for vehicles registered in Michigan to utilize digital vehicle identification while traveling throughout the rest of the nation. But the company that produces them, Reviver, has only just recently found itself in a position to furnish them.
“Drivers deserve a modern licensing solution that works for the way we live today. We are beyond excited to make digital license plates available to all drivers in Michigan,” stated Neville Boston, Reviver’s co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer. “I want to thank the state legislators and government representatives, as well as the many other transportation officials and partners throughout the state for working with us to help make this a reality – we are thrilled to reach this milestone.”
The devices themselves are monochromatic replacements for the stamped piece of metal that goes on the back of your vehicle. According to the manufacturer, they have the ability for some minor customization. For example, customers can pair the devices with their smartphones to swap between light and dark modes that reverse the background and text shades. But the real sales pitch revolves around what the “RPlate” can offer in terms of safety.
Reviver says having one equipped to your car allows for it to be tracked when it’s stolen (and presumably when it isn’t being stolen) while also allowing it to display relevant information in an emergency. The example given here was an amber alert, though the manufacturer said there was more to come as it developed relationships with law enforcement. Additional perks include not having to go anywhere for registration renewal. Customers can simply re-up via the internet without even having to bend down to swap stickers. However, those that forget will see their digitized plate swap to a giant display reading “INVALID” until they’ve shelled out the money.
But the alleged benefits come via a fairly steep subscription fee. Standard plate fees in Michigan cost roughly the same as a fast-food hamburger until you need a new one, whereas the RPlate will run you $19.95 a month for a battery-powered model that includes a replaceable battery. Versions that require a professional to actually hardwire the device into your car are $24.95 a month – plus the $150 installation fee.
It seems like a lot of money to spend on something that probably wouldn’t survive a fender bender and seems poised to further erode personal privacy.
Reviver says it’s presently in active discussions with 10 other states to get the hardware sold – something that doesn’t appear to require the company to give local government a share of its revenue. However, this is not the case for its “Auto Dealership Partner Program,” which now includes over 100 shops that will attempt to encourage shoppers to snag digital plates straight from the lot.
Future plans under consideration include working with manufacturers to integrate digital plates into the cars themselves and expanding the list of RPlate features. The business has also stated that it believes its hardware would be ideal for fleet management. But Reviver’s primary concern is getting all 50 states to offer them as an alternative to standard license plates that don’t require a monthly subscription and aren’t connected permanently to the internet.
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