Wednesday, 30 June 2021 17:26

Why New York Commission Blocked a Tesla Model Y Taxi Fleet

Written by Ameya Paleja, Interesting Engineering


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On June 23, Teslarati reported the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) blocked the launch of an all-electric taxi fleet from the startup Revel.

The report caused outrage among Tesla fans and even questioned the priorities of the commission, which was allegedly asking Revel to buy 50 gas cars before introducing its Tesla Model Y taxis. Tesla CEO Elon Musk also appeared stumped on Twitter, tweeting "??" the same day. 


The decision passed with a five-to-one vote makes it illegal for Revel to introduce its fleet in the city in one clean sweep. Revel CEO Frank Reig called the decision "shortsighted bureaucracy and entrenched interests," reported Teslarati.


As the week has progressed and dust begins to settle, there is more clarity on what the commission's decision means for Revel and the city's taxi drivers.


To understand it better, we need to go back to 2018, when the TLC imposed a temporary ban on all new taxi licenses with an aim to ease congestion in the city and improve incomes of existing taxi drivers by capping the number of taxis available.


However, this ban excluded electric vehicles and wheelchair-accessible vehicles (WAVs). Revel relied on this exception to launch its fleet of 50 all-electric taxis. 


The 2018 ban was extended multiple times to help taxi drivers cope with the fallout of the pandemic. But in a public meeting June 22, the TLC voted five-to-one to remove the exception given to electric vehicles. This was flagged by media reports as a ban on electric vehicles. The WAVs are still exempted from this ruling but Revel's Tesla Model Ys are not wheelchair accessible as of now. 


The only option left for Revel is to buy existing licenses of taxis powered by gas, retire them and then replace them with electric vehicles, but the media reports skipped the retiring part and highlighted the purchase of gas-powered cars. This allows for the introduction of electric vehicles and a sustainable means of transport without actually increasing the congestion in the city or reducing earnings for existing taxi drivers.


The TLC ruling is intended to...

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