It took a little longer than expected, but Michigan is now the third state where drivers can order a digital license plate for their cars. The digital plates, which are legal to use in all 50 states as well as Canada and Mexico, come with a monthly subscription fee of between $20 and $25, depending on the model.
Reviver, the company behind these connected, electronic replacements for a simple piece of metal, touts a number of benefits of digital plates. Reviver calls them RPlates, and the digital plates make it possible to track the car if it gets stolen. The company also says it’s easier to renew and register a digital plate than it is to get a new sticker for your current plate. In fact, digital plates don't display any registration expiration information since, when the registration expires, the plate simply reads "invalid" until the plate has been renewed. Thanks to their cellular data connection, digital plates can also be used to display warning messages, like Amber Alerts.
A new-plate fee for a standard Michigan plate is currently as low as $5, but to offer these features, Reviver charges a monthly subscription of $19.95 a month for a battery-powered model that includes a replaceable battery that should last for five years or $24.95 a month for the professionally installed, hard-wired model. These are updated prices from when we spoke with Reviver founder Neville Boston in November 2020.
The Michigan Secretary of State has not yet updated its website to take digital license plates into account, but Arizona, where digital plates have been legal since January 2019, makes it clear that the state does not get any extra revenue from the sale of these plates. In March, Reviver announced that more than 100 car dealers had joined its Auto Dealership Partner Program, making it easier for car buyers at these locations to get digital license plates for their new cars. Reviver pitches the program to auto dealers with an opportunity for "substantial revenue share opportunities from each plate sale."
Reviver has been working on digital license plates since 2009, which are also available in California. In late 2020, the company said it would bring the new plates to Michigan in 2021, with Georgia and Texas up next. That timeline obviously shifted, but today Reviver says that there are "more than 10 additional U.S. states" in "various stages of adoption." The state of Florida, for example, filed legislation to authorize Reviver's plates in early 2021, and the Colorado House of Representatives is also working on approving the plates. Looking further ahead to a time when these kinds of plates can be used in every state and country, one could imagine a future use case where vehicle designers integrate the license plate into the vehicle itself.