Revel is rolling out the latest expansion to its ride-sharing program in New York City. The company just got regulatory approval for an employee-operated fleet of 50 EVs in Manhattan, set to carry passengers below 42nd street for now.
The service sets itself apart from Uber and Lyft in two big ways. The first is that the Revel fleet is fully electric, made up of 50 modified Tesla Model Ys. So, you won’t have to go hunting around for the “Green” option in order to score an eco-friendly ride.
The second, and arguably more important distinction, is that the cars will not be driven by so-called independent contractors, but by drivers who are rightly classified as employees by the ride-hailing company. Which is to say, Revel’s drivers will get health care and guaranteed wages, among other things.
The rollout had been planned for months, but the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission delayed the approval, saying it wanted to curb car congestion. The TLC cited new regulation, but Revel had started the rollout months before the regulation kicked in, per the New York Daily News. That means the 50 car fleet is now about ready to roll silently around NYC, supported by Revel’s 125 drivers and 25 operations employees.
A report from Axios notes that this fleet will also test “whether EVs are up to the challenge of nonstop service,”. Urban centers and EVs should be a good match.
The problem right now is that New York isn’t quite there yet, according to Revel CEO, Frank Reig, who said to Axios that charging infrastructure is still lacking:
“The real issue here, in cities like New York, is that if we’re going to electrify rideshare and push EV adoption, there’s a huge missing ingredient. There is no charging infrastructure in cities. It doesn’t exist.”
“It needs to be built, and it needs to be built now or else no city will meet their electric vehicle target. None of them will,” Reig tells Axios.
But even with the lack of infrastructure, the project seems to be off to a good start. The waitlist for rides in Revel’s Teslas is already 50,000 passengers long.