Digital License plates are here and only one company makes them.
Living in a world where everything is tracked and no one pay attention to anything but their smart phone, do you need a digital license plate? Reviver Automotive thinks so.
California was the first state to approve the very expensive cellular and gps equipped digital plates. Not only do you need to pay for the plate there is an annual fee just like OnStar. Onstar can stop your car, a digital plate can display an “I am stolen” message.
The Scary Potential
For me the question is how hard are these to put on and take off. Honestly why do I need a digital plate? I get it that subliminal ads and messages can be flashed in the plate so quickly we won’t even notice. Something like the old popcorn sales trick in movie theaters. Digital billboards are scary, but I rarely look at them. This is worse, I see a lot of license plates. I am pretty sure they aren’t programmed to say “buy me” because I don’t have digital license plates yet.
If history has proven anything, it is that politicians don’t do anything that doesn’t benefit them. Californians are already the most tracked and watched citizens in the US so is it any wonder these plates appeared here first?
At First Glance
The first time I saw one I knew right away it was digital. What I wasn’t sure of was the legality. In Texas there is a black plate with white letters that looks great on the right car. Not being a black car guy, I never though much else about it.
Then I saw a digital license plate near a home that is known to have Royal visitors. It was on a black Range Rover with dark tinted glass. It didn’t have a Becker plate but it could have been armor plated. If they could change the plate to disappear as needed, that might be cool or uber elitist or both.
Hypocrite socialist elitists might feel the need to hide from the common folks like me or those of Newport Beach. I mean after all, those poor people in Newport Beach are mere millionaires and the socialists do want their money so badly. Why would they want commoners knowing where they are?
The Executive Solution… er Problem?
The digital plates do open some interesting technical questions. I have always wondered what would happen if someone hacked the OnStar in a senators Suburban or Jay Z’s Escalade? Imagine the terror of the doors locking and your car just pulling to the side. There is a script in there. If you write it, please call me as your technical advisor.
Imagine the new world where someone could change your plate to say “stolen” and the next thing you know you are being arrested for driving your own car. Terror without warning.
A World Without Color
Auto racing in the 1930s created the need for “national colors”. An easy way for fans to see who was in the lead. Germany was silver, the most popular color on Porsche and Mercedes. Britain was Green to celebrate the Irish as part of the kingdom, giving birth to my wife’s favorite color, British Racing Green. Just in case you don’t know, British Racing Green is called BRG by real car folks like me. Personally I like the metallic version, Emerald Jewel Green, better.
The US and France both picked versions of blue. My first 1967 Mustang was blue with a white top. My dream car is a Ford GT in US racing blue and a white GT stripe. Next in line is a French racing blue, (also called Royal Blue) Buggatti.
For now the digital license plates are only black and white. Well black and grey really. This makes them more subtle which can be a selling point. For me I want some color. I pay more for California Arts plates just to add color to my German Racing Silver Ragtop.
Some Cool Options
Digital plates do open up some cool options. It also begs more questions. For one, why even require a license plate? Why use a technology limited to one company. That sounds like a lot of data gathering power. Also, if you have a transponder in your car for toll roads, why can’t that be the plate? Can’t the parking ticket people use their little ticket printers to read the toll decal just as easily?
The toll reader is easily 30 feet away. There must be a “bionic” ear for RFID chips so cops could id your car in a chase quickly without even seeing the plate. I know we are moving into the new “defund the cops” world, but after all our stuff is stolen, or some clown goes 85 down your street shooting off a roman candle, we’ll think differently. We always do.
Why can’t the digital plates have a bar code like the DeLorean in back to the future. That would give a false sense of security to those hiding from the public. I mean what nerd would create an app that would read bar codes and use it to read license plates. Oh wait, I have that app already, never mind.
The Commercial Solution
The one thing that attracts me to digital plates is the ability to track our company cars. Since I own the production company that films COOLTOYS, and the Marketing company that pays my bills, I like to know where my vehicles are. Once I had an employee quit from home and keep his company car. It turned out we had no idea where he lived and it took two weeks to find the car.
That was 10 years ago and for the last five we have installed GPS cellular trackers on every car. The cost is the same as the digital plates without spending $500 or more on the plate. Like the kindle, I am sure the plates will drop in price as more people buy them.
The Bottom Line
Digital plates are a connection point from the past to the future. All new cars are easily trackable and identifiable. A digital plate won’t stop it from being stolen, and unlike OnStar or other active services, it can’t stop the car when it is stolen. So what is the point again?