California Expands Digital Number Plate Options for Everyone

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  • It’s been nearly a decade since California first considered digital number plates, and now anyone in the state can get one.
  • There is only one company that sells digital plates. Reviver offers two versions of its RPlate: a battery-powered model that requires a $20/month subscription or a programmatic model for commercial vehicles for $25/month.
  • Digital license plates are currently permitted in only three states—California, Michigan, Arizona—and can be used on commercial vehicles in Texas. About 10 other states are considering approving the device.

Anyone in California can now legally put a digital number plate on their car. High-tech license plates have been permitted in limited numbers since 2018, but now the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will allow vehicle owners to use digital plates. California first started thinking about alternatives to standard metal license plates in 2013 with the passing of SB 806.

Reviver, the only company selling digital discs today, announced the passage of a new law this week that helps herd it through California’s legislature. It Motor Vehicle Digital Number Plate Bill (AB-984) increasing the number of people who will be allowed to use digital plates on their cars from half of the state’s one percent of cars—about 175,000 vehicles permitted by the original pilot program—to 40 million state-registered vehicles. With the passage of AB 984, digital license plates are now legal for passenger cars in three states—California, Michigan, Arizona—and they can be installed on commercial vehicles in Texas.

One of Reviver’s selling points for connected digital license plates is that they can be updated immediately to display Amber Alerts or a “I’m Stolen” message if needed. Reviver said at least 10 other states are considering the adoption of digital number plates. Colorado, Georgia, and Illinois have approved the plate, but details about integrating it with the state DMV have not been finalized. Reviver said Pennsylvania and New Jersey are likely to agree on digital plates soon.

Reviver has pushed ahead with its digital license plate plans, touting benefits such as the ability to update the license plate without using a sticker and the fact that the plate has built-in tracking technology that can be used if the vehicle is stolen. The company says about 10,000 people in California have installed its digital plates, called RPlates, under current regulations.

Technically, the new law doesn’t just help Reviver. The AB-984 sets out general requirements for “trying and adopting new alternative devices for vehicle licensing,” the company said. It’s just that Reviver is currently the only one that offers any alternative. The company offers a battery-powered RPplate that can be mounted on any vehicle and, since the digital plate needs to be connected to a cellular network to operate, the subscription costs up to $19.95 per month. Programmable RPlates are available for commercial vehicles and require professional installation. The programmable model offers more integrated telematics features and the display is backlit. Subscription for the programmatic model costs $24.95 per month. Commercial customers can register their RP to the RFleet Reviver Software Dashboard. Reviver credits RFleet as a way to streamline some of the mundane parts of a fleet manager’s job: automated vehicle registration, batch registration updates, and a way to track every vehicle in the fleet via RP plates if the vehicle doesn’t have built-in telematics for this purpose.

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