Revel To Launch NYC EV Rideshare Service, But Company Strategy Is More About EV Charging
Revel will launch an NYC EV rideshare service with FHV licenses granted before the EV exemption was removed. However, Revel's strategy seems to be more about EV charging infrastructure than rideshare
Although the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) voted to remove the EV exemption to the FHV License Pause (aka TLC Plate) on June 22nd, Revel will still launch its all EV (Tesla Model Ys) rideshare service in NYC (i.e., technically, the company applied and received 50 for-hire vehicle (FHV) licenses before the EV exemption was removed). Firstly, I think it’s fair that Revel receive the FHV licenses it applied for before the EV exemption was removed. I also think it’ll be nice to see another company compete with Uber/Lyft for NYC passengers. However, I want to make two points on why I think the Company:
Will struggle to gain traction with its NYC rideshare service, and
Is actually not that interested in a growing a rideshare service, but rather in being a leading NYC EV charging infrastructure company
W2 vs. Independent Contractor
Based on my interactions with hundreds (if not thousands) of NYC TLC drivers over the years, I do not think a W2 employee model will work with most TLC drivers. Contrary to perhaps some out-of-touch media narratives, most NYC TLC drivers prefer the independent contractor model. What many drivers want though are increased protections (i.e., minimum pay laws, ability to appeal App decisions, clarity on payment breakdowns) and access to benefits (i.e., healthcare). For example, Uber and Lyft’s duopolistic NYC market shares (i.e., an Uber and Lyft deactivation will essentially kick someone out of the TLC industry) is more concerning to drivers than being classified as independent contractors. While I wish Revel well and think their entry is a net positive for the industry, I don’t see a W2 model working with the vast majority of drivers. Separately, I think it will be very hard to take away share from Uber and Lyft’s customer and driver base. Happy to be proven wrong though.
Revel’s Bet On EV Charging Infrastructure
However, where I think Revel is going to be proven very right is the company’s bet and investments in NYC EV charging infrastructure. I believe the company’s interest in a rideshare service relates to creating a mechanism to initially fully utilize their newly opened charging hub in Brooklyn, until more EVs hit the road in NYC.
“There’s 2.5 million vehicles in this city, a lot are buses or sanitation trucks, and supposedly over the next 10 to 15 years they’ll all be electric…The grid is already maxed out and on the verge of blackout in weather events. Where are these vehicles going to charge?” - Revel CEO Frank Reig
At the end of the NY Daily News article that broke this story, transit reporter Clayton Guse seems to imply that their is some wiggle room around the EV exemption if more charging infrastructure is built, but I think that’s a misguided opinion. Until the yellow cab industry recovers and the current supply of FHVs are fully utilized, I cannot see the NYC TLC allowing the addition of a large number of additional TLC-plated vehicles. However, what I do think you will see is increased incentives for drivers and fleets to electrify.
Revel is set to be a leader in NYC EV charging infrastructure, but I’m personally not that convinced they will be able to compete with Uber and Lyft on the rideshare side of the business, especially with a W2-based model.
Link to article
What do you think?
AutoMarketplace NYC Newsletter is written by Dawood Mian, Founder & CEO of AutoMarketplace. He covers the NYC for-hire transportation industry and related news. (New site AutoMarketplace.io to be launched soon, sign-up to the newsletter if you are interested to learn more ahead of launch)