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E-License Plate Maker Sets Sights on Service Expansion

Electronic license plate maker Reviver plans to make the devices available beyond California and Arizona — two states currently offering them — and is in talks with four other states.

Arizona is the latest state to approve electronic license plates, packed full of connected vehicle technologies and customizable messaging.
Reviver Auto
Electronic license plates may be gaining interest, with nearly 2,700 on cars in California and Arizona. 

The plates, produced by the company Reviver, function as an electronic screen capable of altering its message — such as the car’s license plate number — as well as messaging, and even a “find my vehicle” feature, thanks to the technology’s wireless connectivity.

Reviver representatives say the technology is set to evolve with a host of other features, like handling parking and toll payments, said Neville Boston, CEO and co-founder of Reviver Auto. Tolling features could be added by the end of the year, with parking payment features available in the near future. 

“What we’ve done, and what we’ve continued to do, is work with states as partners,” said Boston.

The plates have been available in California and Arizona, while Reviver plans to announce new partnerships with about four other states in the next month. The company is currently in the pilot phase with Maryland and Pennsylvania. Maryland is in the middle of a two-year pilot study to test the plates on 20 state fleet vehicles. 

How excited the public is about the e-plates may still be an open question. Fewer than 100 of the plates have been issued in Arizona, while some 2,600 have been issued in California, state officials say.

Reviver has two plate technologies available: a wired version, which connects to the car’s electrical system, and a new battery-powered version, which can go about five years before the battery has to be replaced. The battery-powered plate went on sale in early September.

“We believe the battery version is the one that we will really scale with because it’s one that a consumer can put on themselves. It takes about five minutes to install it, and they’re basically good to go,” said Boston.

The electronic license plates retail starting at $499 and cost $55 a year. The company plans to build in new features like tolling and parking payment abilities, and they have been touted as yet one more item to enable contactless interactions — a bonus in the time of COVID-19.

“Our work with various states, over the past few years, is really bearing fruit right now. Because everyone’s needing a way in which you can lessen the amount of time that you’re spending in large groups. And to be able to update your registration from your app securely is tremendously important,” said Boston.

Department of motor vehicle officials stress that online registration renewals — which can limit trips to a DMV office — are widely available.

“There are several options available to renew registration including online, at a kiosk and through the mail,” said Ivette Burch, public information officer in the Office of Public Affairs at the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

“Online registration renewal is a service that’s been available to Arizona customers for many years,” echoed Doug Nick, assistant communications director for Public Information at the Arizona Department of Transportation.

However, those trips to the DMV aside, Boston said any opportunity to develop contactless features is a welcome one.

“With everything happening with COVID, it’s actually been a boom for our business in a positive way because we now can be an extension of allowing compliance to happen in a safe environment,” he added.  

Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Yreka, Calif.