Introduction to Digital License Plates for Commercial Fleets

April 17, 2023

When you operate a fleet of commercial vehicles, it pays to find new and improved processes to boost efficiency. Taking time and effort out of a day-to-day workflow means better performance across your whole fleet — the advantages can add up quickly.

This is why digital license plates have so much power to transform the way commercial fleets operate. The technology offers a streamlined way to manage registration, vehicle tracking, fleet management and more. Applied to one vehicle, the efficiency gains are noticeable. Across a dozen, a hundred or more, the value is that much greater.

The sooner your fleet gets started with digital license plate deployment, the faster you can unlock the benefits. But it’s worth starting from the beginning and asking what exactly a digital license plate is.

What is a digital license plate?

A digital license plate is exactly what its name implies — a legally compliant license plate that, instead of a piece of embossed metal, is made up of a cutting-edge digital screen. Approval for digital license plates is rolling out state by state. Fleet managers in California, Michigan, Arizona and Texas can use these plates in place of conventional license plates.

Digital license plates are designed to remove the manual work from processes like vehicle registration while providing an easy way to link vehicles into a centralized fleet management system. These devices pack digital features into a part that every car or truck on the road has.

Even if digital license plates just represented a quicker, hands-off way to update vehicle registration, they would be worthwhile from a value perspective, but they can do much more. These devices add:

  • Highly efficient registration and compliance.
  • Plate messaging, marketing and branding.
  • GPS tracking and real-time geofencing.
  • Advanced theft prevention.
  • … and more.

 If your fleet is based in one of the states that supports digital license plates, you can start seizing these benefits right away. 

What are the advantages of digital license plates for commercial fleets?

Taking a closer look at the benefits of digital license plates reveals just how many areas of your business can improve when you make the switch. Locking in these efficiency improvements across your whole fleet delivers value at scale, allowing you to reinvest the time and money you’re saving into building your company further.

For a seemingly simple device, a digital license plate can offer numerous benefits, such as:

Efficient registration and compliance

Registering your fleet vehicles periodically puts constant demands on your time. Every step — from tracking compliance status to physically applying new registration stickers — requires effort that could be used on other value-adding activities.

Batch registration renewal across multiple vehicles is a revolutionary new take on this process, and digital license plates make it possible. You simply log into your fleet management dashboard and file the necessary information, paying the fees online in a single step. The digital plates update automatically, saving another step and getting your vehicles back on the road in a hurry.

There’s always clarity about whether a vehicle’s registration is current or not. No matter where a vehicle is located, the dashboard will give a warning if it needs renewal soon. Then, with that renewal secured, there’s no need to bring the vehicle in for an updated sticker — it’s simply updated and ready to go.

Fleet management and tracking

Digital license plates have integrated telematics features. This means there’s no need to double up and pay for dedicated devices. Your license plates become the connection between all your vehicles and fleet management software, allowing you to use features such as geofencing to keep drivers in approved areas.

When you have accurate real-time location monitoring of every vehicle you operate, you can take a zoomed-out view of the whole fleet or get a closer look at individual drivers’ progress. You can even configure alerts to update you on the progress or mileage of specific vehicles.

A dashboard view of the whole fleet allows managers to verify which vehicles are in and out of service, which ones have registration or inspection deadlines coming up and even which have been reported stolen. Simple point-and-click actions allow seamless oversight of the fleet from this screen.

Integration with existing fleet management methods

If you already use a fleet management system you want to retain, digital license plates can still work for you. Through an API interface, you can seamlessly integrate the digital tags’ integrated telematics with your tracking tool of choice.

On the other hand, if you’d like to use the digital license plates’ fleet management system, but also integrate other vehicles that use conventional tags, you can do so. Even without the ability to make automatic changes to these metal license plates, it’s still convenient to have them listed in one place, alongside the digital tags.

Custom branding and messaging

Digital license plates add a little extra to the standard vehicle registration template — you can customize the messages displayed along the edges of these plates to show off branded messages. This is not just a way to gain a little extra marketing space; it also lets you change the branded text whenever you choose to build seasonal promotions.

There are also uses for the custom text that go beyond branding. For instance, if a vehicle needs service or registration renewal, that fact can flash on the digital license plate for extra clarity. Any error that needs to be resolved can trigger a message. There’s also the potential to use these plates as theft-prevention devices.

It’s easy to see which message each plate is displaying from the fleet management system. A preview shows every element on the plate, from its number and registration status to its custom text, whether that’s a generic message, a branded marketing campaign or a special warning such as “STOLEN.”

Theft prevention

When one of your vehicles goes missing and is suspected stolen, what resources can you use to get it back? If you have digital license plates, you can take advantage of the technology’s feature set. Reporting the vehicle stolen allows you to switch the plate to display a “STOLEN” message, allowing law enforcement personnel to easily spot it on the road.

Furthermore, the fact that digital license plates come with integrated telematics allows you to pinpoint the vehicle on a map. As long as the plate is still attached to the vehicle, you’ll be able to follow its progress and help law enforcement get it back for you.

Digital License Plates on City of Sacramento’s vehicle fleet


Why convert your fleet to digital license plates now?

The advantages of digital license plates add up in two important ways: they become more impactful over time and with scale. Converting as many vehicles as possible as soon as possible is the best way to realize value from digital license plate technology — every year you spend with this technology in place gives you time and money back in your budget.

Cumulative benefits over time

Making one round of vehicle registration easier and faster can have a tremendous impact on your fleet’s bottom line. Doing it again doubles the value. When your compliance and vehicle registration processes are simplified and heavily automated year after year, it’s easy to see the advantages adding up.

Because digital license plates and conventional tags can exist side by side in a fleet management system, there’s no need to delay converting vehicles in states where digital plates are available now. Even if you also have vehicles registered in other states, you can start claiming the value of digital plates for those vehicles eligible for them.

Economies of scale

The more vehicles you have with digital license plates, the better from a value perspective. Saving money by renewing one registration automatically is good. Doing the same for 100 is 100 times better. Managing a large-scale fleet, with vehicles scattered across a wide region or trucks that rarely ever return to a central headquarters can be especially advantageous with digital license plates.

Overseeing hundreds of vehicles becomes relatively simple when they’re all tracked and monitored in a fleet management system. And since the digital license plates have integrated telemetry, you don’t have to spend on additional tracking devices or subscription fees to collect data from them.

How do you get started with digital license plates?

As digital tags win legislative approval in more states, an increasing number of businesses are starting to unlock their value. If your state already supports the technology, you don’t have to delay any further — digital license plates are available now from Reviver, the industry leader in fleet compliance and management technology.

With the combination of the future-proof RFleet management system and the digital license plate hardware, Reviver has defined the tech category, delivering a uniquely mature combination of solutions. These systems have already begun to transform fleets’ approach to management and help them unlock efficiencies.

Contact Reviver now to determine the next steps for outfitting your fleet with digital license plate technology.