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Rediff.com  » Business » Smart licence plates are here! Car thieves watchout!

Smart licence plates are here! Car thieves watchout!

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December 21, 2004 10:46 IST

From the day somebody stole somebody else's horse for the very first time, vehicle thefts have been up there on the list of the world's most popular crimes.

But thanks to a recent Supreme Court ruling making it mandatory for all vehicles plying the Indian roads to sport high-security electronic number plates, car thieves might as well look for an alternative profession.

What makes this electronic number plate -- to be clamped on all the 80 million vehicles in India in a phased manner from January -- such a blessing is a chip that comes embedded in it.

The chip can be used to continuously monitor the movement of the vehicle by authorities such as the police.

Each licence plate will have a nine-digit laser code, which, decoded, will throw up details of the vehicle to facilitate tracking.

When used with a digital tracking device, cops can trace your stolen car to the exact location where it has been stowed away in a matter of minutes.

These digital licence plates are tamper-proof and would be fastened with a non-removable snap lock that makes it virtually impossible to detach from the car.

Moreover, besides the number plates in the front and the rear, a third registration mark in the form of a self-destructive sticker would be affixed on the rear windshield containing details such as registration data and engine and chassis numbers.

"To ensure that there is absolutely no hanky-panky these plates will be issued only at regional transport offices (RTOs). Right now the RTOs are getting vending machines in place so they can start off in the new year," said an auto industry observer.

So what would it cost? At about Rs 500-Rs 1,000 per plate depending on the vehicle, and 80 million vehicles, India presents a Rs 4,000-5,000 crore (Rs 40-50 billion) market for their vendors.

Shimnit Utsch, Real Mazon India, Promuk Hoffman and Tonnjes Eastern Security Technologies are the main players set to cash in on this huge opportunity.

"We will sell our product through franchisees located at various RTOs starting next year, currently our plan is to capture at least 80 per cent of total market in the cities," said a Shimnit Utsch spokesperson.

According to the Supreme Court ruling all vehicles registering from January 1, 2005, should come fitted with the new electronic number plate.

Existing vehicles have to comply within 24 months starting January 1, 2005. So when you get your new car registered in the new year you might have to shell out an extra thousand but don't crib, its definitely worth your peace of mind.

On the cars

  • Four firms may introduce the licence plates that will cost between Rs 500 and Rs 1,000
  • All new vehicles getting registered from January 1, 2005, will have to sport these plates, while older vehicles can clamp them on in the next 24 months.
  • These licence plates are tamper-proof and would be fastened with a non-removable snap lock. There will also be a hologram sticker in the rear windshield that will self-destruct when tampered with.

Parvathy Ullatil in Mumbai
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