Published On: Tue, Aug 13th, 2019

Electric moped startup Revel expands into Washington, DC

Electric moped sharing startup Revel is expanding beyond New York City and into Washington, DC. Starting this weekend, Revel’s mopeds (which are more like speed-limited electric motor scooters, since they don’t have pedals) will be available to rent and ride in the capital city as part of a four-month pilot program. Revel says it will roll out 400 of its mopeds in DC, almost half as many as the 1,000 currently on the streets of Brooklyn and Queens.

Pricing will be the same as it is in New York City. It costs $19 to sign up, the bulk of which Revel says goes to verifying each user’s driver’s license and history. Each ride costs $1 to start, and $0.25 per minute. Rides can be “paused” if the user wants to, say, run an errand and not have someone else nab the moped. That drops the price to $0.10 per minute.

Each of Revel’s mopeds (which are made by Chinese company NIU) comes with two helmets. Drivers have to be 21 to use the service, and up to two people can ride at a time. The mopeds are capped at 30 miles per hour, so they’re only meant to be driven on city streets. They’re supposed to be parked on the street, too, so they (ideally) won’t clutter up DC sidewalks.

Bringing another city online so soon didn’t appear to be in the cards when The Verge spoke to Revel CEO Frank Reig earlier this year. “Right now the entire team is focused on making a thousand mopeds completely safe, [making sure they’re] operating efficiently, and making sure that this city loves us, because if we’re not doing that, we’re doing it wrong. So that’s the complete focus right now,” he said at the time. “I’d love to think about expanding the fleet. But that’s next year. I think right now, we need to focus on just making sure that people love us, making sure this is a value add the community, and that’s it. Dead stop. That’s all we need to do.”

That said, Washington, DC’s pilot program — which was announced earlier this month — may have proved to be too good an opportunity to pass up. And despite their flaws and struggles with profitability, shared mobility services are en vogue. The first few months of Revel’s full service in New York City has gone largely without incident, too, which is remarkable considering how the 1,000 mopeds seemingly appeared overnight.

Revel will roughly replicate its New York City operation in Washington DC, hiring 30 full-time employees with benefits. The push is likely being funded by the $5 million in funding the company has raised. Reig told The Verge that was mostly being used to finance the New York City operation, but that the company was holding a chunk of it as cash in the bank. Revel also doesn’t own its mopeds. Instead, outside firms buy the mopeds, and they lease them to the startup.

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Electric moped startup Revel expands into Washington, DC