Arizona is joining California in offering motorists the ability to upgrade their metal license plates to an electronic, digital version, opening the door to easily changeable plate numbers, messaging, and even a “find my vehicle” feature, thanks to the technology’s wireless connectivity. 

In June 2018, the city of Sacramento equipped a handful of its vehicles with Rplates, in part, to better manage the fleet via the plate’s connected vehicle technologies. The digital license plates are available in California via participating dealers and pro shops.

The electronic plates are developed by Reviver Auto, a company based in Foster City, in the Silicon Valley. They come in two versions: Rplate Essential ($499) and Rplate Pro ($799).

“The Rplate Pro includes advanced telematics that can be used to manage and locate vehicles, log trips — including date, time, distance and route — and set geo-fence notifications,” said Neville Boston, CEO and co-founder of Reviver Auto.

The plates must be purchased from Reviver, or the firm's partner retailers. 

Reviver also announced a new partnership with Susan G. Komen of Los Angeles County, which is the nation’s largest chapter for the breast cancer foundation. The partnership will enable the display of Susan G. Komen logos on Rplate holders for drivers who want to share their support of the organization. 

Connected-vehicle technologies are still largely in their infancy but are catching on as more local and state transportation agencies explore new approaches to manage traffic and put in place foundational infrastructures to support emerging autonomous vehicle technologies.

The Rplates can be attached to almost any vehicle, assuming it has a 12-volt power source available near the mounting area, say company officials. Also, the plates include encryption and security protocols to prevent hacking. 

For now, the electronic plates may be more of a novelty. 

“In terms of a consumer, frankly, right now, it’s probably more of a wow factor, people who are technology minded, who want the newest thing, are going to be interested in this probably more than anybody else,” said Doug Nick, a spokesman for Arizona's Motor Vehicle Division. “But as with any new technology, that which is pretty expensive when it rolls out, if the marketplace wants it, it’ll roll down in price, and maybe more people will want it, if it’s something that people really do want.”