Apr 28, 2021
Though it isn’t well-known, as the 20th century dawned, New York City’s early taxi cabs were virtually all-electric. But 10 short years later, the energy density of refined petroleum and the emergence of the internal combustion engine proved far more effective at satisfying the increasing demands of New York commuters, and they succeeded in ameliorating the major environmental problem of the time — horse manure.
These days, people recognize electric cars as better not only for city air and the planet as a whole but also for drivers and passengers.
However, in my many years of evangelizing for EVs, I have repeatedly encountered a glaring misconception, illustrated by exchanges like this:
“I’d be the perfect customer for an electric car! All I do is drive a mile-and-a-half to the train station and back every day, so I wouldn’t need to worry about range.”
“No, you should be the last in line,” is my regular retort. “There’s no reason to give up your gas car when you hardly use any gas!”
The point is, if you want to break the oil monopoly on transportation and remove automobile emissions from city streets, low-mileage drivers are your last priority. Instead, you need to focus on the other side of the distribution curve: the cars that drive the most.
But to do that you need two things: First, EVs that have several hundred miles in range, which has become standard for those coming to market these days. And you need the right infrastructure, which US cities definitively lack. Who is going to pay to build infrastructure if the vehicles aren’t there?
How does this chicken-egg dilemma get resolved?
Just under two years ago I wrote about Revel’s launch of 1,000 all-electric mopeds across New York City. Since then, Revel has grown to a fleet of 6,000 mopeds across six US cities, and its users have ridden 14 million miles — and in doing so have ridden the city air of tons of polluting emissions. Recently Revel also began offering its customers an easy way to subscribe to clean and fun electric bicycles.
But while two-wheelers are efficient and fun (more “smiles per mile” as Horace Dediu likes to say) — they do not serve all purposes. Not everyone is comfortable riding a two-wheeler. Sometimes you might be toting parcels, or the weather might be inclement. And then you want the comfort and ease of a more traditional vehicle.
That’s why today, Revel proudly announced access to on-demand four-wheel all-electric transportation. In fact, when you press the rideshare button on your Revel app, you’ll be picked up not just by any electric vehicle, but by a Tesla Model Y.
But wait — there’s more! These cars have been retrofitted to maximize comfort, eliminating the front passenger seat and creating a “business class” experience.
Even better, Revel is hiring drivers as full-time, payrolled employees, committed to the mission of giving riders the best experience.
In addition, these vehicles will be availing themselves of the new DC-fast charge network Revel announced a few months ago. Revel only expects to use that network for its rideshare vehicles a few hours a day, mostly at night; the rest of the day is open to private electric cars to charge, making it easier for New Yorkers who are planning to make the transition towards EVs. In fact, the network Revel is building makes it realistic, for the first time, for apartment dwellers and anyone who does not have a fixed parking spot of their own to consider an EV.
So, with its entrance into the rideshare market, Revel creates the demand for urban fast-charge infrastructure along with the infrastructure itself, enabling it to achieve its mission of empowering cities to transition their transportation to electric. We’re solving the chicken-and-egg problem by creating the chicken and the egg at the same time.
Recently there have been myriad announcements about electric transportation: Automakers announcing that they’ll make only electric cars by 2035; cities and countries announcing they will permit only EVs by 2040.; rideshare companies (who don’t even own vehicles) announcing the goal of exclusively electric service by 2030.
Today, Revel says to New Yorkers that, when it comes to replacing polluting gasoline miles with zero-emission electric miles — whether those miles be on the fun of an e-bike or moped, or whether they be in the comfort of the world’s most popular EV— an electric option is here for you, today, in 2021, in your city.