Frédéric, taxi driver in an electric car, takes you in a Tesla Model X!

Tesla Model X Taxi

The development of electric mobility offers new opportunities to meet convinced electromobilists. Like this taxi from Dordogne to take part in the eco-driving rally organized by the Automobile Club du Sud-Ouest. Interview with a very friendly driver.

Surprises in Libourne

On October 8, 2022, 21 crews followed a route of approximately 80 km. They left the outskirts of Bordeaux to reach Libourne, trying to consume as little as possible while arriving at their destination on time and after having identified 4 sites on photos.

The presence of a dozen dealerships among the registrants made it possible to obtain a very wide range of electric cars from which the essential Renault Zoé was however absent. On the other hand, there were models that were still rare on our roads: Audi e-tron GT quattro, BMW iX, Mercedes EQB and EQE, Nissan Ariya and Volkswagen ID.5.

Although the Model Y was also invisible at the ACSO eco-driving rally, there were some cool curiosities to discover from the side of the Tesla brand. Thus a former roadster present at the start in Bouliac, the Model 3 of the European Electric Cannonball presented by Guillaume Castevert (with an interview to be read soon), and the Model X taxi of Frédéric Hopchet who came with one of his sons from the ‘A12… no… La Douze, in the Dordogne.

Brussels-Zaventem Airport

Big round glasses, white beard that is probably getting longer as Christmas approaches, T-shirt ” Doting father which would readily remind us of a certain French television series broadcast in the early 1980s: the man immediately appears sympathetic and jovial. And he really is, this humorous 57-year-old Belgian from around Brussels.

He arrived in France about twenty years ago to ” exchange 200 days of fleet for 200 days of sunshine “. This first outing makes you understand immediately that you will not be bored in his company or in his taxi.

He initially practiced in Belgium: “ I was a salaried driver for 5 years at Brussels-Zaventem airport. It was 25 years ago, before coming to settle in France. In Belgium, independent access is much more regulated than in France. You must own your license, without credit on it for solvency reasons “. Frédéric Hopchet also sent express mail.

First in trade

Arriving in France, our interlocutor gave in the trade, including in the importation of vehicles. He was fed up: I no longer wanted to do only numbers. Even the city taxi is business. I preferred to practice in a quieter environment “. This explains its installation in the town of La Douze, in the Dordogne.

Taking its name from the Gallic appellation “Doz” designating a source of muddy water, this town whose population flirts with 1,200 inhabitants is to be found between Périgueux, about twenty kilometers away, and Sarlat-la-Canéda twice further away.

The website of La Douze promises, concerning the small company of Taxis Ladouzois led by Frédéric Hopchet and his wife Florence: tourist circuits, races in France and abroad, approved transport, and a personalized welcome in French, English and Dutch.

Tesla Model X Taxi

I can do long distance as well as recurring transport, especially for follow-up care, such as chemo and dialysis. We then easily enter the intimacy of the people transported », Appreciates our interlocutor.

A Zoé as the first VE

The Tesla Model X is not Frédéric Hopchet’s first electric car: ” Personally, I had for 3 years, the time of the rental, a Renault Zoé. It gave me a great discovery of electricity. I already had the idea of ​​an EV for my taxi “.

The circumstances pushed him to take action: Covid-19 gave me the will not to waste any more time. I tried different models, including the Tesla Model S, Hyundai Kona and Skoda Enyaq. I finally chose a used Tesla Model X. It comes from the Netherlands and belonged first hand to a dentist who has traveled 57,000 km. I added 63,000 in 2 years “.

The American SUV has brought with it free lifetime charging on Tesla superchargers. ” It was an important buying argument for me. But I finally realize that I only use them occasionally, for long distances. When, for example, a client takes him for a consultation in Bordeaux and I have an hour’s wait before he returns, I take advantage of the Mérignac superchargers: 20 minutes to go there, 20 minutes to recharge, and 20 minutes to return. “, he comments.

Autonomy

On a daily basis, Frédéric Hopchet’s Tesla Model X taxi is recharged at his home, on a 7 kW terminal: ” It’s a real comfort to be able to go home and quietly plug in the car “. If necessary, he can also take advantage of an Ionity station south of Périgueux. Fastned is also expected to move into the area.

And for autonomy? ” I don’t have a heat pump on my Model X 90D. I can count on 73-76 effective kWh. Which gives me a range of 350 km in summer, but only 250 km in winter “, he answers us.

This car is handicapped by its CX on the highway. I also know how to conduct it soberly. As part of the eco-driving rally, I went down to a consumption of 13 kWh per 100 km “, he calculates. Thus, its electric SUV could swallow around 575 km.

With an electric vehicle, and even more so a taxi, you have to avoid going on an adventure for a long journey. On the contrary, it is better to organize a minimum “, he recommends.

Nothing to replace it

I am really in love with this car. I bought it more for myself, to please myself, than to attract customers. But if my customers are happy to be transported in it, so much the better. The scissor doors at the rear facilitate their access on board “, explains our interlocutor.

Tesla Model X Taxi

The level of the Model X is so high that I can’t see anything better on the market today to replace it. This is why I easily plan to keep it for a long time to carry out significant costs if necessary. Including battery and motor “, he assures, his eyes sparkling.

I wouldn’t say the Model X is perfect. But I forgive a lot of Tesla, which launched into electric more than 10 years ago. It has reached an important level that generalist manufacturers have not “, he insists. ” The weak point of this vehicle is its gimbals which come from the Mercedes CLS. But since we only go to Tesla when we have a problem, it compensates “, he believes.

Driving the taxi

Model S, Model 3 and Model Y, I had already tried. But not the Model X yet, although I had the pleasure of sitting in it at the Tesla Paris showroom in November 2018. I was hoping for an opportunity to get an idea of ​​how comfortable this car is in use, even in just a passenger. Frédéric Hopchet offered me this possibility, but by entrusting me with the wheel of his taxi in the streets of Libourne. He thus became the passenger of his own vehicle.

First surprise for me who is used to the liveliness of my Kia e-Soul already very dynamic in Eco mode: an accelerator pedal to tame. Because even in Comfort mode, the American SUV displays a fiery temperament. However, you get used to it relatively quickly by forgetting old habits.

The small streets under construction in the city of Gironde do not form the ideal setting to appreciate a car, whatever it is. But you quickly feel the full potential of the machine and the pleasure you can have in driving it in a better setting. Already on the departmental roads of Nouvelle-Aquitaine.

For a moment, I lived this old personal dream of being a taxi driver myself. Thank you Frederic!

Automobile Propre and I warmly thank Frédéric Hopchet for his availability, his good humor and his sympathy.

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