Digital license plates have just been approved in the US, but what are they?

Digital license plates have been given the green light in the US, with trials happening in other countries around the world too.

Published on Oct 3, 2023 at 3:16PM (UTC+4)

Last updated on Oct 3, 2023 at 3:16PM (UTC+4)

Edited by Kate Bain
One of Reviver's digital license plates displayed on a vehicle

If you’re not familiar with digital license plates, you’re not alone.

The concept is very new, but we’ll likely be seeing a lot more of them soon.

In the US, Ford has just become the first manufacturer to offer them on new cars.

READ MORE! Most expensive license plates, and the crazy cars they’re attached to

The digital license plates are made by a company called Reviver, and they’re legal in all 50 states, as well as Canada and Mexico.

That being said, they’re currently only approved for sale on vehicles in Arizona, California and Michigan.

In those three states, digital plates are now available as an optional extra when you buy a car from Ford dealerships.

So, what are digital license plates?

The plates being manufactured by Reviver use E ink technology, which is like that found inside the display of a Kindle e-book reader.

And, just like a Kindle, the E ink technology used for digital plates gives them a monochrome look, with users able to pick between light and dark modes.

Not only that, but users can also add a personal message to the bottom of their plate, under the registration itself.

Perhaps more interesting is the fact that these digital license plates have 5G data and GPS connections.

Basically, they can be connected to a smartphone app, which then alerts the owner if the vehicle is stolen, showing its real-time location.

That’s not even the best bit, as a ‘stolen’ message will display on the plate itself as well. 

They can show other warnings, too, like Amber Alert messages used in the US to inform the public about reports of a missing child.

In the US, a license plate is registered to the owner of the vehicle and needs to be renewed every year.

If the owner of a digital plate fails to do so, the plate will show an ‘invalid’ message.

However, once it’s been renewed, the display of the digital plate will show that it’s valid for another year.

But it’s got to be said, digital license plates don’t come cheap.

The price tag for a Reviver RPlate is $599 for a battery-powered plate, plus $75 a year for connected features.

There’s a hardwired version, too, with more functionality costing $749 plus $150 installation and $95 a year for the connected services plan.

According to the plate maker, the battery of the former should last for five years.

Both plates are also designed to survive extreme temperatures and tampering by potential thieves.

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