Michigan has opted to allow digital license plates, making it the third state after California and Arizona to provide it with legal support. The state legislature passed the necessary laws in 2019 to make it legal for Michigan-registered vehicles to use vehicle digital identification while driving in other parts of the country. But Reviver, the company that makes them, has only just found itself able to supply them.
“Drivers deserve a modern licensing solution that fits our current lifestyle. We’re excited to bring digital license plates to all drivers in Michigan,” said Neville Boston, Reviver’s co-founder and chief strategy officer. “I would like to thank state lawmakers and government officials, as well as many other transportation officials and partners across the state, for working with us to help make this happen — and we’re excited to have reached this stage.”
The devices themselves are monochrome replacements for stamped sheet metal at the rear of the vehicle. According to the manufacturer, they have the option to do some minor customizations. For example, customers can pair the device with their smartphone to toggle between light and dark modes that invert backgrounds and text shadows. But the real selling point is what “RPlate” can offer in terms of security.
Reviver says having one on your car can track when it’s stolen (and possibly when it’s not), while also allowing it to display relevant information in an emergency. The example given here is an amber alert, although the manufacturer says there will be more to come as relationships with law enforcement are established. Other benefits include not having to travel for registration renewals. Customers can simply restock via the internet without even having to bend over to redeem the stickers. Those who forget, however, will trade their scanned license plates on a giant screen that says “invalid” until they pay up.
But the claimed benefit comes from a fairly high subscription. A standard menu in Michigan costs about the same as a fast food burger until you need a new one, and RPlate will cost you $19.95 a month for a model. Battery powered, including replaceable batteries. The version that requires a professional to connect the device to the car costs $24.95 per month, plus a $150 installation fee.
It sounds like a lot of money to spend on something that might not survive a fender bender and looks like it would erode privacy further.
Reviver said it is currently in active talks with 10 other states to sell the hardware — which doesn’t appear to require the company to split its revenue with local governments. But that’s not the case with its Auto Dealer Partner Program, which now includes more than 100 stores that will try to encourage shoppers to buy digital license plates directly from the field.
Future plans under consideration include working with manufacturers to integrate digital license plates into the car itself and expanding the list of RPlate features. The company also said it believes its hardware will be ideal for fleet management. But Reviver’s main focus 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 always connected to the internet.
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