Revel goals to cost up NYC’s EV infrastructure

Regardless of New York state having among the most ambitious climate targets in the world, New York Metropolis significantly lags different U.S. metropolitan areas in electrical automobile adoption. 

Absolutely electrical and plug-in hybrid automobiles made up solely 3.4 p.c of NYC’s new passenger automobile gross sales final 12 months, far behind San Francisco (22 p.c), Los Angeles (11.9 p.c) and Seattle (11.7 p.c), in keeping with Atlas Public Policy, a analysis group based mostly in Washington D.C. New York even lags the nationwide common of 4.4 p.c.

To know why a progressive, climate-conscious metropolis such because the Huge Apple has so few EV drivers, take into account this: Residence to 2 million automobiles, NYC has a total of 100 public EV charging points, 86 of which sit on crowded curbs, among the many loading docks, bike racks and outside eating constructions. These curbside charging spots so typically have non-electric automobiles parked in entrance of them, among the metropolis’s EV drivers seek advice from this common prevalence as getting “ICE-ed” by an inner combustion engine automobile. 

The transition to electrical automobiles requires a dependable, accessible community of chargers, and NYC is working on an expansion. However as a dense, extremely populated city space the place accessible actual property sells at a premium — and the overwhelming majority of residents dwell in condo buildings with no personal storage the place they’ll plug in — it faces huge challenges.

Revel, a Brooklyn-based electrical mobility firm based in 2018, desires to assist clear up this electrification conundrum. The brainchild of Staten Island native-turned-Brooklyn resident Frank Reig — co-founder and CEO — Revel is greatest recognized for its sky-blue rental mopeds, which may be present in San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; and Miami, along with NYC. Revel’s service works very like different shared scooter companies: Utilizing the corporate’s app, prospects discover a close by moped, guide it and trip to their vacation spot, the place they’ll go away the scooter parked in any authorized spot. As a consequence of accidents that resulted in two riders’ deaths in 2020, Revel requires a video coaching course and a selfie of the rider carrying a helmet earlier than they’ll take off. 

Along with the moped leases, the startup final summer season kicked off an Uber-style rideshare service, with 50 Tesla Mannequin Ys working in Manhattan. On the identical time, Revel opened an EV charging “superhub” in Brooklyn, in an simply accessible car parking zone the place 25 quick chargers can be found to the house owners of any EV model on a 24/7 foundation. Revel is slogging via the tough means of opening further charging facilities across the metropolis, Reig advised me after we met just lately on the superhub in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. The next represents only a portion of that interview, edited for size and readability. To listen to extra of Revel’s story, tune into the Could 13 episode of the GreenBiz 350 podcast. 

CJ Clouse: We’re sitting in a stark white room, full of rows of industrial-sized metallic energy containers. Inform me about this area. 

Frank Reig: We’re within the energy room at our first quick charging station, behind a former Pfizer manufacturing plant. In order that they used to make medication and chemical compounds right here, and since it was a large-scale manufacturing web site, there are 35 megawatts of energy right here linked to the grid. So after we constructed this charging station, we did not should do an improve with [New York utility] ConEdison and wait two years to get energy. The facility was simply sitting right here. However these websites are unicorns. You do not discover locations like this fairly often. We actually bought fortunate with this one.

[Interested in learning more about the electrify-everything movement? Join leaders from the private and public sectors, utilities, solution providers, investors and startups at VERGE Electrify, online July 25-26.]

Clouse: Do you get quite a lot of EV drivers coming right here at this level? Do folks know this charging station exists? 

Reig: It is fascinating, simply anecdotally, what number of of us have emailed our customer support, saying, “I dwell inside 20 blocks of this station you constructed, I used to be deciding between an electrical automobile or a fuel automotive, and your station pushed me over the sting.”

Clouse: However you are not a charging firm, proper? You do not construct these chargers or do you?

Reig: Our workforce project-managed this web site and made it occur, however we’re not constructing the chargers themselves. There are lots of different corporations that try this. However our workforce is totally constructing infrastructure and extra websites like this all through New York Metropolis proper now. For us as an organization, we’ve a spotlight not simply on quick charging, however quick charging at scale in city facilities.

Clouse: Are you able to inform me the place these different websites might be?

Reig: We will not announce something simply but, however there are a bunch extra within the pipeline. Our complete thesis right here is the EV transition solely occurs when there is a dependable infrastructure community in a metropolis. So if we put two chargers right here and two chargers there and two chargers there, in my thoughts, it is form of meaningless. As a result of should you get an EV, and also you drive to that web site with two chargers, and certainly one of them is being blocked by a fuel automobile and the plug on the opposite one would not work, that is not dependable. For us, infrastructure is at scale. You understand whenever you come right here to a web site with 25 plugs, you are going to have the ability to cost your automobile.

We’re additionally making an attempt to construct these websites the place rideshare drivers dwell. As a result of what will be the primary automobile kind to affect at scale? It should be taxis and rideshare. So after we take into consideration the place to construct future websites, we actually have two primary issues: The place is there a excessive throughput of automobiles? Take into consideration the place fuel stations are. And let’s be certain that we construct large-scale websites in neighborhoods the place rideshare and taxi drivers dwell. 

Clouse: Talking of drivers, Revel drivers are precise workers, not contractors, right?

Reig: Sure, the drivers that we’ve working with us, they’re all W-2 workers. They get entry to the identical healthcare plan that I’ve. That’s been a core tenet for us as an organization since we began. Even with the moped facet of the enterprise. We now have over 200 folks on the moped facet, throughout 4 main markets within the U.S. From day one, each battery swapper, customer support agent, mechanic, they’re all W-2 workers as properly. I do not know, perhaps it was the best way I used to be raised. I simply felt prefer it makes much more sense. Get someone purchased into your organization, and ensure they care in regards to the firm. I do not suppose you are going to actually get that if they are a gig employee.

Clouse: So, what in regards to the energy facet? You stated this web site is a unicorn. 

Reig: That is the place the problem is available in with EV charging infrastructure at scale. You want the actual property, you want a landlord prepared to hire you the precise kind of property on the proper worth, and you have to be certain that there’s energy on the grid to produce that web site. And that is one other complete dialog [with the utility]. Typically it could actually take years to get energy, and generally it would not matter how lengthy your timeline is, you are not getting energy for a wide range of causes.

So, we have got some severe constraints right here. We have got a metropolis the place actual property is at a premium, and it is onerous to seek out area anyplace. After which even when you’ll find area, more often than not you possibly can’t get the facility. So once more, in a metropolis like New York, you’ve bought 2 million automobiles. In the event that they’re all going electrical within the subsequent 15 years … I do not know the place [all that infrastructure is] going to occur. 

Clouse: Effectively that doesn’t sound very encouraging. 

Reig: I’ll say, although, I’ve solely been within the electrical automobile trade for just a few years now. After I speak to of us who’ve been within the trade for 10-plus years, they all the time have horror tales of working with utilities again within the day. When calling a utility, you may as properly have been calling customer support for an airline, proper? You are not getting via, you are not getting assist, they are not going to do something for you. That’s not the case anymore. For instance, ConEdison has been an exceptional companion for us. I feel it is as a result of, truthfully, it’s the political strain. We have to really get stuff accomplished. 

We’re sitting right here in 2022, and nothing’s occurred on electrification and rideshare in a metropolis like New York, as a result of how can it? No person’s bringing these items collectively. It is so simple as that. And the one solution to carry it collectively is you’ve bought to construct infrastructure, you’ve bought to run mobility companies, on this case rideshare. The one approach to do that is to really go all in, roll up your sleeves and do it. Or else you’ll simply be someone speaking about 2030.

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