Apparently, it's not enough that vanity plates are a thing — new digital license plates are making their way into multiple states from California to Arizona These additions are perfect for the tech hungry that wants to show more personality on their vehicles.
They're also definitely not cheap — dealerships are charging $699 on top of installation fees and a monthly of up to $7 for plates, called Rplates, made by Reviver Auto, a company based in California, which we recently chatted with at CEWeek.
The plates operate with E ink, similar to what Kindle uses on their e-readers — that's not too exciting. So why would drivers want these digital license plates?
Well for starters, they eliminate the need to change registration stickers every time you need to renew. You can also display personal messages on the plates — however, doing so would push your license plate number to a smaller part of the screen, something the California DMV is still trying to figure out how to deal with.
Rplate's debut is directly attributable to legislation signed by the California Gov. Jerry Brown in 2013 that directed the Department of Motor Vehicles to investigate alternatives to license plates such as "stickers, tabs, or other suitable devices," according to the bill. Digital plates apparently are covered too.
This connected car device will be trackable — you'll be able to find your car if it gets stolen, sort of like the Find My iPhone feature. To house all these features, the plates will come with a wireless communication system, computer chips and battery.
Car rental companies are investing in this new technology, Reviver told GearBrain. Fleet companies using the digital license plates make sense: they can push out advertising on the plates, along with using the tracking feature to keep an eye on their rented out vehicles. Advertisements will only play when the car is stopped, but will push the license plate number out of the way. A city or state can also display messages on vehicles, such as an Amber or Silver Alert, public service announcements or ads for city services.
If you're excited to buy one, don't get too pumped up yet. Although California was the first state to make these digital licenses plates available — and Sacramento the first city — they're still only available at 17 dealers, according to the company's web site, and many of these are high-end dealers who sell Jaguars, Cadillacs and Aston Martins. The plates are also being tested through a pilot program in Arizona, and the company says that car owners in Texas and Florida will also be able to buy Rplate later this year.