Electric Moped Startup Revel Set to Launch Uber Rival with Tesla Model Y Fleet
Company is able to build fleet using EV-exemption. TLC Chair states exemption wasn't meant to "flood an already saturated market"
Revel, the Brooklyn-based company known for its light blue electric mopeds, is trying to make a splash in the NYC ridehailing market with the launch of an all-EV Tesla Model Y fleet. The Company is reported to have built up a fleet of 50 bright blue Tesla Model Ys for its initial launch (expected to be in May) and has modified the car by removing the front passenger seat to create more legroom.
Unlike Uber and Lyft, Revel will own the fleet and maintain the cars (the announcement also coincides with Revel’s recent investment in developing a large EV charging hub in Williamsburg). In addition, the Company will hire drivers as employees who’ll have access to a range of benefits from healthcare to paid time off (Note: this is similar to how the Company classifies its workers who help maintain the company’s fleet of electric mopeds).
Regulatory Issues & TLC Plate Cap
While the idea and announcement are interesting, there maybe some issues. Given Revel’s initial focus will be on Manhattan below 42nd street, the addition of more for-hire vehicles in a market arguably saturated with too many cars to begin with has the TLC concerned (i.e. the “TLC Plate Cap” - officially called the FHV License Pause - has a wheelchair accessible (WAV) and EV exemption, allowing Revel to add cars). Notably, given the yellow cab industry’s continuing struggles and Manhattan focus, it may be controversial to add a new for-hire vehicle fleet to NYC streets. In fact, TLC Chair Aloysee Heredia Jarmoszuk made her thoughts clear in an email statement to The Verge upon hearing about Revel’s plans.
“TLC capped for-hire vehicles because supply already exceeds demand…The electric battery exemption exists to encourage already-licensed cars to go green, not to flood an already saturated market or to disenfranchise the Yellow Taxi sector in Manhattan. This ride-share scheme deviates from the spirit of those rules, and TLC will not cut corners in doing its full diligence.” - TLC Chair Aloysee Heredia Jarmoszuk
In fact, another TLC spokesperson even went further stating.
“Revel is not licensed to operate for-hire transportation vehicles in NYC.”
Revel responded that the TLC approved its base application and issued its license number already. Furthering this assertion, Revel co-founder Frank Reig was adamant that his Company had the legal right to operate in NYC.
“Our ability to operate doesn’t depend on the Commissioner’s opinion—it depends on us taking the steps laid out by law to complete the administrative licensing process, which we’ve done since the start…Right now we are exactly where we need to be as we look towards putting Revel rideshare vehicles on the road in May.” - Revel co-founder Frank Reig
As you can tell, pretty contentious on both sides. Definitely something to track! One thought that’s crossed my mind is the TLC may very soon limit the EV and WAV exemption in a way that prevents fleets from adding several cars.
Link to The Verge article
AutoMarketplace NYC Newsletter is written by Dawood Mian, Founder & CEO of AutoMarketplace. He covers the NYC for-hire transportation industry and related news. Search AutoMarketplace for cars, parts, tires, technicians, body shops, reviews, jobs & more. Find great deals at TLCMKT.COM (new site AutoMarketplace.io to be launched soon, sign-up to the newsletter if you are interested to learn more ahead of launch)