Revel’s planned fleet of 50 Tesla Model Y taxis in New York City was shut down by the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), and the reasons they gave are sketchy, to say the least.

Earlier this year, we reported on Revel, a mobility startup better known for its ride-sharing fleets of electric scooters, launching an effort to bring a fleet of Tesla Model Y taxis to New York.

The effort was particularly intriguing because Revel had modified the Model Y to make it a perfect taxi vehicle.

They added a screen in the Model Y’s backseat and also removed the front passenger seat in order to create more legroom.

It results in a very interesting zero-emission taxi experience:

But now the plan has been shut down by the TLC.

It’s hard to get a driver-for-hire and taxi license in New York, but Revel was using an exemption for electric vehicles aimed at accelerating EV adoption in the city.

However, shortly after Revel launched its Tesla fleet initiative, TLC announced that they are putting an end to the exemption.

TLC chair Aloysee Heredia Jarmoszuk said (via Marketwatch):

It is not sustainable to allow an unlimited number of new vehicles to the road in a city that is all too familiar with the choke of traffic congestion. What we will not allow is the opportunity for another corporation — venture capitalists or otherwise — to flood our streets with additional cars.

The concern appears to be that it would add too many vehicles on the road and contribute to traffic problems in the city.

Instead, the commission is suggesting that Revel buys licenses from gas-powered taxis:

The TLC argued that Revel can still operate if it buys 50 gas cars and swaps their licenses out for electric vehicles — a requirement that Revel called “the very definition of limiting market competition.”

But that’s exactly what has been driving the prices of those licenses up and makes it hard for electric vehicles to become taxis in the city.

Revel CEO Frank Reig didn’t mince his words when addressing the TLC over the issue:

“We’re offering exactly what this commission has been asking for for years: fair treatment and stable pay for drivers — who are all W-2 employees with benefits — and a plan to drive EV adoption in the city. The Commissioners sat through almost three hours of testimony on all sides yet asked zero questions and spent zero time deliberating before making a policy decision with profound consequences,” Reig said in a statement. “The TLC never intended to consider what drivers and New Yorkers had to say, and only cared about jamming through this vote on Primary Day with as little scrutiny as possible.”

The TLC voted 5 to 1 to shut down the plan and Bill Aguado, an artist and activist who represents the Bronx, was the only one to support the deployment of electric vehicles.

Reig told the local media that the company still plans to “hit the streets” with its electric vehicles and they believe that the law is on their side.

Electrek’s Take

Obviously, the commission doesn’t care about traffic as they stated. They cared about their power that lies in the scarcity of those licenses making them valuable and hard to get.

Revel’s fleet was a threat to that. That’s it.

They will find any reason, no matter how weak or sketchy, to protect their power. For ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, it was that they went around the law by not using full-time employees with benefits. And now that Revel has arrived with a solution, they found another reason.

New Yorkers should be angry about this. If I were you, New Yorkers, I’d reach out to all those brilliant commissioners, except for Bill Aguado, and let them know that they are not fooling anyone.

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