Revel's first Superhub in Brooklyn had some challenges their first day of taking payments for fast charging EVs including Tesla

Posted by Paul Braren on Jul 8 2021 (updated on Jul 26 2021) in
  • Efficiency
  • EVs
  • Review
  • Tesla
  • Revel Superhub Support

    On July 9, Revel let me know their preferred/best urgent support contacts for EV charging issues, in summary:

    • Revel Superhub Payment/Payter Issues - call EVGateway at (949)945-2000
      Be ready to read the Station ID of your charger
    • Revel Superhub Tritium Charger Issues - call or text Revel at (855)690-9180,,,4 (option 4)
    • Revel Customer Service - for other non-immediate inquiries or feedback, email support@gorevel.com

    I have confidence that Revel and its technology partners will be able to work through these typical launch-day issues that I've reported below, and that this facility will be a better experience for visitors in the near future. Most EVs made since 2018 have DC fast charging abilities for on-the-go rapid charging, and AC charging capabilities for overnight garage charging. When you have a garage. Brooklyn residents who street park may now have a reasonably practical way to replace their street-parked gas car with an electric car, with most charging completed at Revel's public facility in about an hour. This is the first Superhub of its size and kind anywhere in the US, and could be the first of many. The positive repercussions of having such Superhubs in cities across the US could be big.

    Jul-7-2021-photo-of-Revel-Superhub-Brooklyn-by-Paul-Braren-from-TinkerTry
    Click/tap twice to really zoom in. You can count all 23 operational stalls in this pic. The trash bin and nearby bench [off camera] will be very handy when charging. The location is spacious, well-lit, and each stall's width is quite generous too. All good things.

    Contents

    superhub

    Backstory

    The idea of being able to DC fast charge any brand of EV in minutes rather than hours is quite tempting, no matter where it's located. Can a DC fast charger offer decent charging speeds of any brand of EV? It's a challenge, at least here in the US, with CCS and Tesla DC fast charging generally found at different facilities or parking lots. Wouldn't it be grand if all EV brands could be equally viable options for urban dwellers.

    Tesla's vast network of Superchargers (Urban peaks at 72 kW, V2 at 150 kW, and V3 at 250 kW) has proven itself worthy of handling long road trips without the stress of worrying whether it'll work. Just plug it in, charging starts, and it's automatically charged to the credit card on file in the tesla.com account, something owners had already set up at delivery day anyway. It's that easy. And the speeds are typically between 20 and 45 minutes for most Teslas, even older Model S, X, and Model 3 Standard Range that can't utilize the top speeds of V3. I've done 54 Supercharges at 20 locations, and only 3 times have I had to move to an adjacent stall due to a stall not working or only charging very slow charging. Just a momentary inconvenience, never panic or fear. Here in the northeastern US, we're blessed with a very high density of Superchargers, having traveled 44,000 miles from Ottowa to Maine to Virginia. One quite notable exception is metro New York City. Read onward.

    revel-offerings

    Enter Revel. Known for moped and eBike rentals, now they're making a go of creating a ride-share service that uniquely offers it's employees a Model Y to drive, for riders to enjoy the EV experience as an alternative to Yellow Cabs or traditional rideshare services like Uber or Lyft. Their fleet of Model Ys will overnight at this DC Fast Charging Superhub to recharge. What's unique is that Revel apparently saw the opportunity for some extra revenue by opening this superhub to the public, 24x7, regardless of what brand of EV they drive. Here's TechCrunch's take on last week's grand opening of this first-of-its-kind facility.

    Whether Revel is able to launch their new rideshare service is very much an unfolding story, with an alternative perspective on the political drama and daring tactics detailed here.

    Urban EV charging challenges

    Brooklyn has 2.59 million people living in just this one borough of New York City. If you live there, it's quite likely you only have street parking, common in many cities. This makes overnight charging an impractical path toward EV ownership. Some of the older neighborhoods were built up in horse and buggy times, featuring no driveways and no garage. I've personally made the 110 mile drive to Brooklyn a few times a year for either work or for visiting folks I know there, using our 2018 Model 3 Long Range. Parking is a challenge, as expected. Arriving with at least 20% battery to keep the Sentry Mode running can sometimes be another challenge, especially in winter.

    Brooklyn-Supercharger-locations

    If you live in Brooklyn, you just drive to a Supercharger every few days or weeks, depending upon how much you drive, right? Well, it turns out that Superchargers in this area are Urban Superchargers, maxing out at 72 kW. Amazingly, this anemic Supercharging extends all the way to Jersey City, Manhattan, and Queens. Every location seen in my screenshot of the Tesla's Supercharger locator map. This means most chargers from roughly 20% to 80% are closer to an hour in duration, 2 to 3 times slower than the 20-30 minutes of most V3 or V2 Supercharges, which I explained at TinkerTry back in early 2020. There are also hefty parking fees to contend with in Brooklyn as well. And finally, higher charge rates, with 39 cents per kWh

    My story

    Jul-7-2021-photo-of-Revel-Superhub-Model-Y-in-Brooklyn-by-Paul-Braren-from-TinkerTry

    From decades of experience in IT, I'm fully aware of how difficult it can be to fully test any complex system, so that the day the equipment starts handling production workloads is without issues. This is especially so when multiple vendors are involved. So when I heard that Revel was running their first week with free charging, I figured that'd be a popular way to get both some publicity and some charger kinks worked out, with upset over inevitable issues being far less likely when no money is involved.

    In this instance of Revel trying to launch an ambitious, public, open 24x7 location for DC fast charging of any EV brand, my spidey senses foresaw some initial launch bumps in the road, they're pretty much inevitable. Just check out some of Kyle Connor tests and Tom Moloughney's tests featuring many new EVs including Porshe Taycan, Ford Mustang Mach-E, and VW ID.4.

    Back on June 26, I started reading about their Superhub opening soon, I reached out to Revel's PR contact via email. Again I reached out in the early afternoon of July 7, to see if I could confirm that payment processing had actually begun, knowing it had now been a week since the start of a free week of charging. Without a response (perhaps my email from @tinkertry.com got caught up in spam on their end) I also tried to make contact with @_GoRevel via Twitter DM, and with support@revel.com.

    On July 7th, I realized it was likely the very first day of payment processing operations starting at Revel's Superhub, making the evening drive down held much more appeal to me personally. I enjoy being an early adopter, documenting issues, and providing constructive feedback. This is just something I enjoy doing both personally (this blog), and professionally.

    With some actual first and second-hand knowledge of the issues, I submitting a Revel Support Request using their webform at 11:05am today.

    Revel employee's story

    Jul-7-2021-photo-of-Revel-Superhub-Tritium-in-Brooklyn-by-Paul-Braren-from-TinkerTry
    Click/tap twice to zoom in.

    When my wife and I arrived around 7:45pm, there was a non-uniformed but very polite and helpful Revel employee on hand who introduced himself, and fielded many of my questions as I parked in a non-charging spot. He wasn't authorized to go on camera, so consider this list of learnings just his personally, unofficial opinions:

    1. the food court and bathroom facilities aren't open to the public just yet, he sounded unsure when they might be
    2. the 2 Nissan Leafs I saw arrive seemed to charge without incident, but didn't stay long so I'm really not sure, they talked with the employee at some length as well
    3. I asked if the fleet of Revel Model Y will use some or all of these stalls overnight, he confirmed yes, but was unsure what time they'll be charging using the long row of stalls along the fence, not the back-to-back stall area that is open to the public 24x7, with the entrance gate at 467 Marcy Ave, Brooklyn NY 11206 always opened.
    4. There are 23 stalls currently, with 2 stalls offering CHAdeMO (despite Tesla stickers on the holster) or CCS Combo 2, and the other 21 stalls offering Tesla or CCS Combo 2 charging. There were spaces for 2 more stalls, but the Tritium charging cabinets were not yet in place.
    5. At night, it's a known issue that their automatic LED floodlights go on for a few minutes when detecting motion, then off again a few minutes later. It's a ambient light detection issue, and Revel is working to get this fixed.
    Home-Depot
    Camping Mode doing an extreme cool-down to bring my battery level down before charging.

    The logistics problem we faced was that we had to find a way to run our Model 3 battery down from about 38% to 20%. This actually wound up taking a lot of time. Using my OBD reader, we found that cranking the HVAC to Lo and the fan to 10 was the best way to drain the most watts possible from just HVAC alone: 3,600 watts, to be exact. We also turned on the rear seat heaters, and stopped by the local Home Depot to get some stuff and use the facilities, leaving the Model 3 in Camping Mode to ensure the HVAC stayed on. Cruising the highways at decent speeds was also something we also tried later on, but lots of traffic on 278 even at 9pm thwarted that plan quick too. Quickly we found that we lost nearly 2 hours just to get started on recording the experience. I'm super thankful to my wife for coming along with me, helping be my co-pilot and videographer through this zany adventure.

    Issues

    1413132159926349824

    I had hoped to arrive at 20% to be able to more easily compare with my experience with V3 vs V2 Supercharging from 20% to 80%. But as Kyle pointed out, the charge profile is the less interesting part when a CHAdeMO to Tesla connector is involved (part 1036392-10-D), as the charge profile is flat the whole time. This is in contrast with Tesla Supercharging, that starts off real fast for a few minutes before a rapid taper, peaking at up to 250 kW, which equates to roughly 1,000 miles of charge per hour on a Tesla Model 3 Long Range.

    TeslaFi-stats-for-Revel-Superhub-DC-charge-Jul-07-2021
    Click/tap twice to zoom in and see the detailed charging CHAdeMO stats.

    Here's my experience.

    1. At the first stall to the left when you enter the Superhub, I backed in, but it wouldn't accept my Apple Pay with my preferred AMEX card. So I moved one spot over, just in case it was just a card reader issue, in hopes of getting a smooth start-to-finish video.
    2. At the second stall, charging began, but within a couple of minutes, it slowed quite a bit, extending our estimated time from about 55 minutes to over an hour and 20 minutes. Not a good thing to see this late at night, and we're still 110 miles from home. Likely the slowdown had nothing to do with another car starting to charge nearby, but we couldn't be 100% sure, so we moved to a completely different area to try again, in hopes of faster charging.
    3. Charge attempt #3 was failed when I realized I was in one of the two CHAdeMO-only spots. This is a good reason to now provide payment before the car is plugged in, just as the Tritium screen indicates. Lesson learned!
    4. Attempt #4 is the charm, next to CHAdeMO-only spots, using the using Visa on Apple Pay via my Apple Watch, it authorized in just 3 seconds, then charging automatically began 23 seconds later, nice! It's all on camera, see also video below. It then took 53 minutes to get from 26% to 81%. It didn't matter if HVAC system was left running or not, charging speeds didn't change.
    5. Other folks saw "Service Error 101" on the Payter screen on some of the un-numbered stalls, I was able to replicate this on camera in the video below.

    Speed Comparison - 20% to 80%

    So to sum up, I can use my data from my V3 vs V2 Supercharging sessions, and extrapolate from my data from my Revel charge. For my 2018 Tesla Model 3 Long Range in hot weather, to get from 20% to 80% battery charge:

    • Tesla V3 Supercharger ------------- 25 minutes - May 31 2020 Meriden CT
    • Tesla V2 Supercharger ------------- 28 minutes - Jun 06 2020 W. Hartford, CT
    • Revel Tritium CHAdeMO to Tesla -- 58 minutes - Jul 07 2021 Brooklyn, NY

    Here's my collection of reported issues from other Tesla owners who were trying to get charging started last night:

    • Communications issues of some sort were reported by others when trying to swipe any card.
    • We found that using my Visa card in my Apple Pay worked, using my watch to make the contactless payment. My AMEX card in my Apple pay didn't work, Payter card reader said "try another card".
    • Another Tesla owner used his Apple card in his Apple Pay, using his iPhone to make the contactless payment. His other cards in his Apple Pay failed.

    Video

    TinkerTry YouTube Channel - July 7 2021 - Revel Superhub challenges the first day of taking payments for fast charging of EVs including Teslas
    TinkerTry YouTube Channel - July 7 2021 - Tesla Model 3 owner in Brooklyn shares positive & negative charge experiences at new Revel Superhub

    Feedback for Revel, Tritium and Payter

    My additional observations and feedback:

    Revel

    • Support is needed 24x7, especially during these first days, and it needs to be clear to visitors how they should go about reaching out to support.
    • A Revel employee or knowledgeable contractor on site for at least these first few days and nights would have greatly enhanced the experience.
    • Not made clear how much $ my credit card was charged during or after the charging was finished. I'll need to review all my video footage carefully to see if perhaps I missed seeing an indication. Admittedly, I was busy helping others get their charging going, based on the knowledge I had gained from others who had similar struggles.
    • It's a bit odd to have a bulky CHAdeMO Adapter to add Tesla charging on 21 of the 23 stalls, but I realize it's wishful thinking that closer collaboration with Tesla might be possible someday for less bulky adapters and/or faster DC charging speeds for Tesla owners at any non-Tesla facilities. It's amazing that a place where CCS is used for all EVs exists, it's called Europe. Maybe someday the US will have a more uniform infrastructure, one can always hope.

    Tritium

    • The cables are nice and long, but they're also quite hefty and stiff. The leash can also be a bit hard to extend, I'm guessing even more so in cold weather. I think some of the more petite customers may struggle a bit to get their charge cable situated, and they'll be some inevitable clumsiness when shorter customers try to hang the cable back up on the hook.

    Payter

    • The blue-backlighted LCD Payter device's screen didn't always stay backlit, and was generally quite hard to read even at night, as seen in some of my (upcoming) video footage. This made documenting the "try another card" difficult. Kind of a funny aside - using my iPhone near the Payter NFC reader caused Apple Pay to auto-launch on my iPhone, which stopped my iPhone's video recording.

    Closing thoughts

    These seem to be mostly just the usual early adopter struggles that can be expected for any new offering, but the lack of support after hours were what made this a more stressful evening for some of the travelers than it needed to be. Particularly for local homeowner/Model 3 driver Brian, who offered to go on camera to explain that his confidence was high this pay-for-charge visit would go well, based on 3 excellent experiences visiting this same facility during the free opening week.

    I'm guessing that getting approvals to beginning ride-share service in New York City are dominating Revel's resources at the moment, understandably. This could be why they don't quite yet have a clear path to getting support for visitors at this time, and based on some Twitter DMs, it seems mostly likely that visitors who need support will have to install the Revel app to request support via a (future) button tap for Superhub visitors, hopefully immediately. Whether they'll be able to seamlessly handle both Tritium "Out of service" screens that arose after charging began, and/or issues with payment processing, remains to be seen.

    As for slower DC charging earlier generation EVs like the Nissan Leaf and Chevy volt, I don't know whether they had Tritium issues on payment launch day, but it's a good guess that they probably had the same sort of Payter contactless payment challenges we witnessed at over a dozen of the 23 stalls now open. So for these early days, set aside some extra time to experiment alternative payment methods, and arrive with plenty of spare charge and time to get to a nearby Tesla Supercharger if you have to.


    Jul 08 2021 Updates

    1413150522668814346
    Revel responded on Twitter at about 11am July 8 2021

    Just as I was publishing the article, Revel responded with this confident tweet, but I hadn't even had a chance to share the issues I was having yet. At least I've established communications, a good thing. Also a good thing that EV charging experts Kyle Connor from Out of Spec Motoring and Tom Moloughney from State of Charge both plan to visit the site again soon, tweeted here and here. I'll add links to their work to this article, and I know they'll be able to a much more professional job of taking the time to get great footage of their experiences here, something I was sorely lacking on this short after-work trip on this super hot evening.

    I too am eager to see if Revel is able to work out their kinks quickly.


    Jul 09 2021 Updates

    My comprehensive video of the entire experience has now been added to the video section above. Forgive my attempt at thumbnail humor:

    • Superhub Revel-ations
      DC fast charging challenges on opening night

    @_GoRevel has now responded to my polite DM and is reviewing this article for its constructive feedback. Again, I'll emphasize, this article and the videos are all intended to help Revel provide an improved customer experience for future visitors to Superhubs.

    Revel-response

    In response to the support ticket I opened, Revel has provided some new information that may be helpful to future Brooklyn Superhub visitors. It's a start.

    Jocelyn (Revel)
    Jul 9, 2021, 12:02 AM EDT
    Hi Paul,

    Thank you for reaching out and bringing this to our attention. We're so glad to hear you stopped by our new Revel Superhub!

    Many charging and payment issues can be resolved by unplugging from the vehicle, replacing the charging plug back in its holster, then restarting the charging process. If this doesn’t work, you can try a different charger. Our team does not have any visibility into payments, so if you have a payment issue that cannot be addressed by the site attendant, you can contact EVGateway at (949) 945-2000. Make sure to have the Station ID of your charger ready for timely assistance.

    If you have any other charging hub inquiries that may need immediate attention, you can call or text our Revel Customer Service team at 855-690-9180. For other non-immediate inquiries or feedback, you can email us at support@gorevel.com.

    We greatly appreciate all your feedback and will be forwarding this to our Superhub team.
    Please do not hesitate to reach out to us should you have any additional questions or concerns.
    Revel Customer Support


    Jul 09 2021 Updates

    So far, support for charging issues at this Superhub is not looking too good, at least not at this time. Both Revel and EVGateway's phone trees weren't really applicable to Superhub visitors, but I did manage to reach people.

    First, I called contacted Revel at (855)690-9180. The person answering wasn't too knowledgeable about the Superhub, but politely suggested I contact EVGateway at (949)945-2000. So I called EVGateway, and the representative answering patiently listened to my issue summary, then I offered to send them my summary and this article and they took me up on that, offering that I email them at support@evgateway.com, which I did. I'll update this article again if I hear back.


    Jul 12 2021 Updates

    Sent this email:

    From: Paul Braren [REDACTED]
    Sent: Monday, July 12, 2021 4:18 PM
    To: [REDACTED CASE-ID-SPECIFIC EMAIL ADDRESS]
    Cc: support@evgateway.com
    Subject: RE: [Revel] Re: Variety of problems with payments and charging on Jul 7 evening at the new Superhub in Brooklyn

    Jocelyn (at Revel):
    Thank you for getting back to me, greatly appreciated. I have pulled together a list and video and screenshots of the issues we encountered with charging our Teslas on July 7th:
    https://tinkertry.com/revel
    One of the issues was Tritium charger starting then stopping right after payment was authorized, as seen in the video at this spot here “OUT OF SERVICE” Status 668, which seemed to be more like a Tritium charging issue, so we moved to another stall and it worked.

    Today, I contacted contacting Revel Customer Service at 855-690-9180 to ask if some or all of the issues have been addressed, but they weren’t too knowledgeable about Superhub support, and recommended I call the same number 855-690-9180 at EVGateway that you recommended. Just now, I got somebody on the line that had more more knowledge of the new site, and he recommended I reach out to support@evgateway.com, now on CC on this email.

    EVGateway Support:
    When you get a chance, can you let me know whether you’ve been able to square away numerous payment processing issues we encountered on the evening of July 7th?
    These included:

    1. failure of swipes or chip reads trying numerous card
    2. communications errors
      (I didn’t get a Payter screenshot of these, but 2 Tesla drivers reported them from various stalls)
    3. “Try another card” error with AMEX on Apple Pay
      (I replicated this numerous times, seen on camera at this spot here as well as pictured here more clearly)

    Paul Braren
    Founder of TinkerTry.com, LLC
    TinkerTry.com/EVarticles | TinkerTry.com/EVvideos | @paulbraren


    Jul 16 2021 Updates

    No replies received to my email yet, sent a polite nudge.


    Jul 19 2021 Updates

    Revel's Response

    Jocelyn (Revel)
    Jul 19, 2021, 3:21 PM EDT
    Hi Paul,

    Thanks so much for sending over your feedback. The article and video you've linked is extremely appreciated and I've sent it over to our Superhub team here at Revel. I'll circle back once I receive additional information from our team.
    Please do not hesitate to reach out to us should you have any additional questions or concerns.
    Revel Customer Support

    EVG Support Response

    From: EVG Support (Support) support@evgateway.com
    Sent: Monday, July 19, 2021 4:04 PM
    To: Support+id543613 support@reveltransit.zendesk.com
    Cc: [Paul Braren, EMAIL ADDRESS REDACTED]
    Subject: [EvGateway] 46201 Re: Variety of problems with payments and charging on Jul 7 evening at the new Superhub in Brooklyn

    Your request (46201) has been updated. To add additional comments, reply to this email.
    EVG Support (EvGateway)
    Jul 19, 2021, 13:03 MST
    Hi Paul.

    Thank you for your feedback.

    We are sorry for the inconvenience.

    1. If the charging session was failed due to any reason using the credit card, the payment will be refunded back to the drivers' credit card in the next few days.
    2. Regarding "Communication Error" - This error can from the charger side, EvGateway can reset the chargers remotely. So, if they can call EvGateway support at 949-945-2000 to get help.
    3. AMEX Error - Did you get the same error on different charger or only on one particular chargers. We will look into with the Payter.

    Please reach out to us for any assistance.

    Thank you.


    Jul 20 2021 Update

    Kyle Conner has done it, delivering on his plan to visit this unique facility, here's his new video, enjoy!

    Out of Spec Reviews - Jul 20 2021 - Is This The Urban EV Charging Solution? A Visit To Revel NYC Fast Charging Park

    Jul 26 2021 Updates

    Looks like Revel's Model Y fleet will be needing to charge nightly at this Superhub starting next week!

    ny-revel-electric-taxis-tesla-tlc-20210726-n3pv6ctn7zagxj5rvnxtxv34zm-story

    nyc-approves-revels-fleet-of-tesla-model-y-taxis
    • NYC approves Revel’s fleet of Tesla Model Y taxis
      Jul 26 2021 by Scott Nordlund at Drive Tesla Canada

      Revel has received approval to launch their app-based car service in New York. Their fleet launches on August 2nd with 50 baby blue Tesla Model Y SUVs.

    tesla-model-y-revel-nyc-launch-tlc-mixup

    1420146116746698757

    See also at TinkerTry


    See also

    tesla-talks-open-supercharger-network-other-automakers-germany

    1128218_pop-up-ev-charging-hubs-deemed-a-success-in-uk-trial
    • Pop-up EV charging hubs deemed a success in UK trial
      May 20 2020 by Stephen Edelstein at Green Car Reports

      A trial of pop-up EV charging stations in the United Kingdom has proven successful, showing a possible way to expand urban charging infrastructure without adding clutter.

      A British company called Urban Electric announced the trial last year, placing prototype pop-up charging "hubs" along streets in Oxford, England.

      Activated by an app, the 7-kilowatt charging hubs retract into the street when not in use, freeing up space.

      Urban Electric hopes to provide at-home charging for people who don't have driveways or garages, and park their cars on the street. That's the case for 43% of UK households, according to the company.


    PAUL68544--Tesla-Referral-Program-Paul-Braren-TinkerTry.PNG

    Free Supercharging: If you find this article of value and decide to order a Tesla, please consider using this ts.la/paul68544 referral link when placing your order so you and I both get 1,000 miles of free Supercharging. If you order Solar, it's a $250 award after system activation.

    Disclosure: My family owns no stock in Tesla. Tesla doesn't advertise at TinkerTry, or anywhere else, and this is not a sponsored post. We financed the purchase of two Tesla Model 3s, replacing my 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid in December of 2018 and replacing my wife's 2005 Honda Civic EX in December of 2019. These big moves to an all electric household were an expression of our mutual desire to go green, avoid gasoline, be safe, have fun, and save money in the long run. Mostly for my job, I drive a lot, 25,000 miles in 2019 for example, and I thoroughly enjoy sharing what I've learned with you. I hope you can tell!

    Jul-7-2021-photo-of-Revel-Superhub-Model-Y-wide-view-in-Brooklyn-by-Paul-Braren-from-TinkerTry
    Payter-Try-another-card-message-Jul-07-2021
    Tritium-screen-by-Paul-Braren-at-TinkerTry-Jul-07-2021
    Notice 44kW is indicated.
    Model-3-screen-by-Paul-Braren-at-TinkerTry-Jul-07-2021
    Notice 37kW is indicated. When I looked at a Model Y charging, both the Tritium and the Model Y displays indicated 47kW.
    Another-Model-3-owners-app-error-captured-by-Paul-Braren-at-TinkerTry-Jul-07-2021
    OUT-OF-SERVICE-Status-668-by-Paul-Braren-Jul-07-2021
    Moments after charging seemed to start, this popped up on at least one stall. Brian moved his Tesla and we tried again.
    MyTeslaFi-all-charges-Paul-Braren-July-8-2021
    All my AC and DC charging history.