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Alto is launching its ride-hailing service in Washington, D.C., this week. Photo: Alto

Startups like Alto, Revel and Kaptyn are positioning themselves as Rideshare 2.0. — alternatives to Uber and Lyft that use employees rather than gig workers as drivers and put fleets of company-owned cars on the road.

Why it matters: These companies' vertically integrated business models mean they can roll out electric fleets more quickly than the current market leaders, whose pledges to go electric depend on persuading gig drivers to upgrade their personal cars to EVs.

  • The newcomers also rely on a whiff of cachet: Alto, for example, which plans an all-electric fleet by the end of 2023, uses a subscription model and touts "5-Star Vehicles + 5-Star Experiences."
  • "Our drivers are employees, not contractors, which benefits them — and you," Alto boasts.

Driving the news: Alto is starting service in Washington, D.C., this week and Silicon Valley by the end of the month, with ambitious growth plans for the rest of 2022 after raising $45 million more in capital last summer.

  • Alto currently offers rides in Los Angeles, Houston, Miami and its hometown of Dallas.
  • Most of its fleet consists of Buick Enclave, Cadillac XT6 and Volkswagen Atlas SUVs, and the company plans to have more than 1,000 Altos on the road by the end of September.

What's next: The company is negotiating to buy 3,000 EVs by the end of 2023.

  • That will require installation of charging infrastructure at its maintenance depots on the outskirts of each city where it operates.

The big picture: Alto joins Revel and Kaptyn in trying to reinvent the sector by avoiding the many stumbles that have tripped up Uber and Lyft over the years.

  • By employing their own drivers and maintaining their own fleets, these companies aim to provide more consistent, reliable, safe transportation, while ensuring that drivers can earn a decent living — and the companies can make a profit.
  • Revel, which is starting up in New York City, has a fleet of all-electric Teslas.
  • Kaptyn, which operates in Las Vegas, bills itself as a private car service with a fleet of premium EVs that lets you "experience travel zen in a comfortable, zero carbon footprint ride you can feel good about."

What they're saying: "We see it as the difference between Airbnb and Westin," Alto CEO Will Coleman tells Axios.

  • "Every single Westin is the same. They treat you the same. That's what you're going to get in an Alto, no matter what city you're in."

The catch: You'll pay more to ride in an Alto, as you would to stay at a Westin hotel.

How it works: Alto members pay a monthly access fee of $12.95, or $99 a year, which includes priority status when demand is high.

  • Member fares are comparable to an Uber XL, while guest fares are about the same as the more expensive Uber Black, says Coleman.
  • "That's what's required to pay the driver fairly, to pay for a vehicle that is safe, well-maintained and clean, and to build a business that works," Coleman said.
  • Drivers can earn from $15.50 to $18.75 per hour, depending on demand, plus company-paid health insurance.

The bottom line: Your options for getting around are multiplying.

Editor's note: This story was first published on Jan. 3rd.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm was lashing much of the East Coast on Sunday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: The Weather Prediction Center said in a storm summary Monday that winter storm warnings are still in effect for portions of the Central Appalachians, Ohio Valley, interior Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast, while portions of the Central Appalachians and coastal New England are under high wind warnings.

Colleyville Rabbi credits survival to active-shooter training

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, one of the people taken hostage in a synagogue outside Fort Worth on Saturday, said in an interview with CBS Monday that he initially took in the man because he thought he needed shelter.

The big picture: Cytron-Walker said he spoke to the hostage taker, identified by the FBI as 44-year-old British national Malik Faisal Akram, for several minutes and made him tea before Akram took the rabbi and three other people hostage during Shabbat services for around 11 hours in Colleyville, Texas.

Book bans are back in style

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

School districts from Pennsylvania to Wyoming are bowing to pressure from some conservative groups to review — then purge from public school libraries — books about LGBTQ issues and people of color.

Why it matters: A pivotal midterm election year, COVID frustrations and a backlash against efforts to call out systemic racism — driven disproportionately by white, suburban and rural parents — have made public schools ground zero in the culture wars.