Revel CEO still plans to roll out e-cabs this summer

Photo by Kevin Duggan

They’re revving back up!

Brooklyn e-scooter-sharing company Revel is ploughing ahead with its plans roll out an all-electric cab fleet later this summer, despite the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission blocking the move last week.

“We’ll be launching a little later this summer,” said Revel co-founder and chief executive officer Frank Reig at the opening of the company’s electric vehicle charging ‘superhub’ in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, on Tuesday, June 29.

Revel originally wanted debut a fleet of 50 Teslas colored in the company’s signature blue onto the streets of Downtown Manhattan. In order to bypass the the city’s cap on new for-hire vehicles, the firm planned to use an exemption for electric vehicles, but TLC threw up a roadblock last week when commissioners voted to close that loophole.

Reig at the time decried the move as “illegal” and specifically targeting Revel, but on Tuesday declined to elaborate how exactly he would work around the new red tape, saying only that he was optimistic that his venture will move ahead in the near future.

“We continue to work with the TLC and we’re very confident that we’ll find a solution to get on the road soon,” he told amNewYork Metro.

Revel CEO Frank Reig at the ribbon cutting for the company’s new electric vehicle charging station in Brooklyn on June 29.Photo by Kevin Duggan

TLC Commissioner Aloysee Heredia Jarmoszuk last week said the agency would “not be repeating the same mistakes of the past” by allowing a company to add even more ride-share vehicles to an already oversaturated market, regardless of how the cabs are powered.

Mayor Bill de Blasio limited the number of new for-hire vehicle licenses in 2018 after companies like Uber and Lyft came to the city, unleashing a race to the bottom for labor rights, threatening to displace yellow cab drivers, and clogging Manhattan’s streets with traffic.

Revel pitched its proposal as counter to the Silicon Valley firms, saying the hometown business would hire drivers as employees rather than gig workers and give them paid time off and healthcare benefits.

On Tuesday, the company cut the ribbon on its new electric vehicle charging hub at the old Pfizer factory on Flushing and Marcy avenues in Bedford-Stuyvesant, which will be open to the public to juice up their electric cars 24/7 starting Tuesday, with free charging for the first seven days, according to Reig.

First announced in February, the power center was supposed to support Revel’s fleet of Tesla Model Y’s, as well as charge EV’s owned by the public at the rate of 39 cents per kilowatt-hour, which roughly translates to $2 per gallon for gas-powered vehicles, according to Reig.

US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm joined the opening on behalf of the President Joe Biden Administration, and the Cabinet guru heaped praise on Revel for serving as a model for the rest of the country.

US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm praised Revel as being a “visionary” model for the rest of the country.Photo by Kevin Duggan

“I’m excited to be here on behalf of the Administration to say thank you for being so visionary,” Granholm said. “Thank you for being an example of what we want to create all over the country, frankly all over the world.”

Granholm voiced her support for an all-electric cab fleet such as Revel’s, hoping Big Apple bureaucrats will “resolve” the current setback.

“I know that the city is visionary when it comes to clean electricity and I hope that they’re able to resolve it,” she said. “An electric ride share service would be fantastic and in fact all-electric fleets whether it is a taxi fleet or a ride share fleet that’s exactly what we want to head in the direction of.”

Commissioner Jarmoszuk declined to comment on Revel’s business plans, but congratulated the company on the station’s launch.

“The TLC congratulates Revel on their infrastructure launch today and we look forward to working together with all our Licensees, including Revel, as we partner as an Industry to electrify the NYC TLC vehicle fleet,” the commissioner said in an emailed statement.