Revel pulls electrical mopeds after not messing with Austin's auto tradition

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Shared electric moped startup Revel said Friday it will cease operations in Austin later this month.

The startup's CEO and co-founder, Frank Reig, didn't blame the entire COVID-19 pandemic for the company's decision, which resulted in the drop in driver numbers on shared micromobility services and public transportation. Instead, Reig cited the combination of Austin's “deeply ingrained” car culture that was only further anchored during COVID. The service will end on December 18 in Austin.

"When Revel came to Austin, we knew there would be challenges," Reig wrote in the statement posted on Twitter. "The city's ingrained auto culture not only has a less dense urban core than our other markets, but has also been difficult to penetrate during COVID."

“One thing we learned is that unlike markets with more resilient public transportation infrastructure, Austin is a city that is still heavily dependent on the car, and we found that our electric scooters are not in a 'car culture "thrive. A company spokesman said in an email.

COVID was an additional factor. The lack of visitors to the city who could rely on Revel instead of renting a car and parking, and the general decrease in movement among those who work and live in Austin, exacerbated the challenges of the market.

Founded in March 2018 by Frank Reig and Paul Suhey, Revel started with a pilot program in Brooklyn and later expanded to Queens, the Bronx and parts of Manhattan. The company was on a rapid growth path thanks to the USD 27.6 million in capital raised in a Series A round led by Ibex Investors in October 2019. The stock round included newcomer Toyota AI Ventures and further investments from Blue Collective, Launch Capital and Maniv Mobility.

Indulge yourself expanded to Austin, Miami and Washington, DC for the first 18 months of operation. The company launched in Oakland in January and received approval to operate in San Francisco in July.

Revel had a challenging year, and not just because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The company voluntarily ceased operations in New York on July 28th after several of its users were killed in a crash. The company restarted its 3,000-strong moped fleet in four boroughs after the City of New York approved its relaunch plan, which included several new features in its app designed to increase safety. Revel added training videos, tests, and a helmet selfie feature that requires photographic evidence. The user wears a helmet and a community reporting tool.