License cost

Digital License Plates Are Gaining Ground in the United States

Michigan has chosen to allow digital license plates, making it the third state – after California and Arizona – to give them legal support. The state legislature passed the necessary laws in 2019, making it legal for Michigan-registered vehicles to use vehicle digital identification when traveling around the rest of the country. But the company that produces them, Reviver, has only just found itself able to supply them.

“Drivers deserve a modern licensing solution that fits our current lifestyle. We are excited to make digital license plates available to all Michigan drivers,” said Neville Boston, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Reviver. “I want to thank state legislators and government officials, as well as the many other transportation officials and partners across the state for working with us to help make this a reality – we are thrilled to ‘reach that stage.’

The devices themselves are monochrome replacements for the piece of stamped metal that goes on the back of your vehicle. According to the manufacturer, they have the option of making some minor customizations. For example, customers can pair the devices with their smartphones to switch between light and dark modes that reverse background and text shades. But the real selling point revolves around what the “RPlate” can offer in terms of security.

Reviver says having one fitted to your car allows it to be tracked when it’s stolen (and likely when it’s not stolen) while also allowing it to display relevant information in an emergency. The example given here was an amber alert, although the manufacturer said there was more to come as it developed relationships with law enforcement. Additional benefits include not having to travel for registration renewal. Customers can simply restock via the internet without even having to bend down to redeem stickers. However, those who forget will have their scanned plate traded on a giant screen that says ‘INVALID’ until they have disbursed the money.

But the alleged benefits come from fairly high subscription fees. The standard plate fee in Michigan is about the same as a fast food burger until you need a new one, while the RPlate will set you back $19.95 per month for one model. Battery powered which includes a replaceable battery. Versions that require a professional to wire the device into your car cost $24.95 per month, plus a $150 installation fee.

That sounds like a lot of money to spend on something that probably wouldn’t survive a fender bender and looks set to erode privacy further.

Reviver says it’s currently in active talks with 10 other states to sell the hardware — something that doesn’t appear to require the company to give the local government a cut of its revenue. However, this is not the case for its “Auto Dealership Partner Program”, which now includes more than 100 stores that will try to encourage buyers to buy digital plates directly from the field.

Future plans under consideration include working with manufacturers to integrate the digital plates into the cars themselves and expanding the RPlate feature list. The company also said it believes its hardware would be ideal for fleet management. But Reviver’s main concern is to get all 50 states to offer them as an alternative to standard license plates that don’t require a monthly subscription and aren’t always connected to the internet.

[Images: Reviver]

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