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

The development of electric mobility offers new opportunities to meet convinced electromobilists. Like this taxi from the Dordogne to participate 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 and tried to consume as little as possible while arriving at their destination on time and after identifying 4 places in photos.

The presence of a dozen dealers among those registered made it possible to get hold of a very wide selection of electric cars, from which, however, the essential Renault Zoé was absent. On the other hand, there were models which 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 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 ‘A12… no… La Douze, in the Dordogne.

Brussels-Zaventem Airport

Big round glasses, white beard that will probably grow longer as Christmas approaches, T-shirt” Good father which would easily remind us of a certain French TV series broadcast in the early 1980s: the man appears immediately likeable 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 excursion makes you understand immediately that you will not be bored in his company or in his taxi.

He originally practiced in Belgium: ” I was a paid driver for 5 years at Brussels-Zaventem airport. It was 25 years before they came to settle in France. In Belgium, independent access is much more regulated than in France. You must own your license, with no credit on it for solvency reasons “. Frédéric Hopchet also sent express mail.

First in the trade

When we arrived in France, our interlocutor engaged in trade, including importing vehicles. He was tired of: I no longer wanted to just do numbers. Even the city taxi is a 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”, denoting a spring 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 as far away .

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

Tesla Model X Taxi

I can do both long distance and return transport, especially for follow-up treatment such as chemo and dialysis. We get so easily into the intimacy of the transported persons », appreciates our interlocutor.

A Zoé as the first EV

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

Circumstances forced him to act: Covid-19 gave me the will not to waste any more time. I tried different models including 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 with 57,000 km. I added 63,000 in 2 years “.

The American SUV has brought 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. For example, when a client takes him to 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 is a real comfort to be able to go home and plug in the car quietly “. If necessary, he can also use an Ionity station south of Périgueux. Fastned is also expected to move into the area.

And for autonomy? ” I do not 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 lead it sober. As part of the eco-driving rally, I reduced my consumption to 13 kWh per 100 km “, he calculates. Thus, its electric SUV could swallow about 575 km.

With an electric vehicle, and even more so a taxi, avoid adventuring on 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 on the back 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 in electric more than 10 years ago. It has reached an important level that generalist manufacturers do not have «, he asserts. ” 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 makes up for it “, he believes.

Driving 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 Tesla’s Paris showroom in November 2018. I was hoping for an opportunity to get an idea of ​​how comfortable this car is in use, even on just a passenger. Frédéric Hopchet offered me this opportunity, but by entrusting me with the wheel of his taxi in the streets of Libourne. He thus became a passenger in his own vehicle.

First surprise for me, 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 exhibits a fiery temper. However, you get used to it relatively quickly by forgetting old habits.

The small streets under construction in the city of Gironde do not provide the ideal framework for appreciating a car, whatever it is. But you quickly feel the machine’s full potential and the pleasure you can have by driving it in better surroundings. Already on the departmental roads of Nouvelle-Aquitaine.

For a moment I was living 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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