What we didn’t think about, was the US producing one of the fastest growing e-moped sharing service, that would branch out into the subscription of e-bikes, hence becoming a multimodal player, just from a different direction. American cities are certainly not known for e-mopeds, these two wheelers that only recently became electrified. When mopeds, we think of the small alleys in the cities of Rome, Barcelona or Lisbon, where young Europeans were scootering with friends to the coffee shop in town, to the beach or evening venue. Mopeds are a means of mass-transportation in India or Taiwan with local manufacturers step by step increasing their electric share.
Now there is a big change coming up, as a mobility startup from the East Coast in the US is branching out its coverage and vehicle types alike. I am talking about the New York based e-moped sharing company Revel. The startup started with a double-digit capital round in 2019 and has since then raised fresh money from a group of backers including Ibex Investors, Toyota AI Ventures, Blue Collective, LaunchCapital, and Maniv Mobility. Founded in 2018, the company now operates in four New York City boroughs, Washington, D.C., Miami, Florida, and the California Bay Area cities of Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco.
The problems with regulations for e-mopeds in the US – speed and inexperienced drivers.
In the US, electric mopeds are allowed to travel at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour (the equivalent of just under 50 km/h) without the rider having to have a driving license. However, helmets are compulsory for electric mopeds in the USA, for both driver and passenger, as they are in Germany, by the way. In Germany, the speed for electric mopeds is limited to 45 km/h. The speed limit for electric mopeds is 45 km/h. Several deaths in NYC with inexperienced drivers lead to the part-time closure of Revel’s service – but the company managed to get its vehicles back on the road with driver trainings and security measures.
Revel – do they have the potential to play in the same court as Bird or Lime?
So, here we find Revel as the first true contestant to the likes of Lime or Bird micro-mobility sharing services with a focus on e-mopeds. Revel expanded its product line-up to include monthly e-bike subscriptions for residents of New York City. For 99 US Dollars a month, Revel customers can get a stylish electric bike delivered straight to their door.
The service allows riders in New York to enjoy the perks of e-bike ownership without any of the hassles. From mid-February onwards New Yorkers in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan can join the waitlist within the Revel app or on the Revel website. The e-bikes will be available starting in early March, they are manufactured by NYC-based e-bike company Wing and do look pretty similar to the VanMoof e-bikes we know in Europe.
“Revel’s mission is to electrify cities and our eBike subscription program is the next piece of the puzzle,” said Frank Reig, Revel CEO and Co-Founder. “We’re excited to give more New Yorkers the experience of eBike ownership without the hassles and to roll out our third product in our hometown.”
Revel’s subscription model for e-bikes is designed to cater for all services around the vehicle. The Revel service staff will manage all maintenance, including flat tires, loose chains, worn brakes, and any normal wear and tear, within 24 hours of riders filing a service request within the Revel app. The eBike is water-resistant and can reach a top speed of 20 miles per hour with a battery chargeable within 4 hours and with a range of up to 45 miles per charge. The eBike is also equipped to go up hills and over bridges with a smooth pedal assist that kicks in when riders need extra momentum, as well as a throttle option that powers the bike without the rider pedaling.
With e-bikes typically positioned in the price range between 1,400 and 3,000 US Dollars, subscriptions are clearly a more affordable alternative to personal ownership. While in the US, the global players Bird and Lime are still experimenting with subscriptions for its e-scooters, they were not fully satisfied with the success. In Europe, the Dutch company Swapfiets is offering its bike subscription in some European markets with huge success. The Dutch company is well known in the student community, recently added e-bikes and launched in Berlin in summer 2020. Another new kid on the block is Berlin bike subscription service called Dance, the founders of SoundCloud are behind this offering.
New York mobility startup Revel is the latest company to try to capitalise on the e-bike boom by shifting to a Netflix or Spotify subscription model. Revel therefore complements the sharing model for its e-mopeds with a subscription model for its e-bikes. This is an interesting combination of sharing and subscription in the micro-mobility segment, which is so highly populated by players with global reach.
Urban solutions today need to include widely available sharing services and the Revel e-moped service continues to grow in US cities. A dedicated e-bike with a full service subscription offering complements the micro service for those that do not feel comfortable on an e-moped. Let us see how Revel thrives in post COVID-19 terms with this combination of mobility services. I will for sure test both of them when in the US at my next visit.