Bylal Khellouf, who has been driving ‘Marcel’ rideshare cars in Paris for a few months, went electric for practical reasons. He is now totally sold on the idea, and tells his passengers all about it.
“Electric vehicles? I had no clue about them. I got on board with them thanks to Marcel!” Bylal Khellouf,thirty years oldworks two jobs: manager of a moving company and, since March, a rideshare car driver in Paris. “I was looking to diversify my business when I found Marcel online. The Marcel drivers all spoke highly of the company, which offered to get new drivers started with a ZOE rented by Renault. To be honest, my main motivation was about getting my fuel costs down, even though I was increasingly thinking about my carbon foot print and starting to feel guilty. At the time I was going through a full tank per week, and in 2019, in a big polluted and congested city like Paris, you can’t go on like that! I just couldn’t get into this new line of business with anything other than an electric car.”
What was a rational move on Bylal’s part has become a deeply held conviction. “As far as saving goes, it checks out. A rideshare car driver using a car with a combustion engine spends 750 to 900 euros per month on fuel. My last bill with my ZOE was for 47 euros, for 150 to 200 kilometers per day.
Plus, I qualify for free parking for 6 hours straight in all Paris roadside parking spaces and unlimited parking in former Autolib’ parking spaces. Knowing how hard it is to park in Paris, this is almost like having your own valet!”
For Bylal, the main concern related to the vehicle’s range was soon swept away. “I don’t have a charging station at home. I use the ones in the city or at the supermarket: all the stores in the region of Paris have them. Filling up the battery to full charge only takes two hours. In 20 minutes, I get enough charge for a range of 100 kilometers, and charging for one hour lets me work all day long, especially since the ZOE battery recharges when slowing down. I like charging the car, which often gives me the opportunity to chat with other electric vehicle drivers. We have interests in common.”
Over time, the fear of a breakdown disappeared completely. “After a few weeks, I didn’t even look at the charge gauge anymore. For city driving, the range is more than enough, even for business utilization and while using all the on-board facilities: air conditioning, radio, cellphone charging.”
But the biggest surprise is the driving experience. “I was expecting the vehicle to be a little unresponsive. It’s just the opposite! Acceleration is steady, without jolts. It feels like you’re gliding. And the silence… With ZOE, I’ve discovered discovered driving pleasure like never before. When starting off, you can leave some hatchbacks behind.”
In terms of spaciousness it doesn’t disappoint either. “As a compact car, the ZOE is practical for city driving. But I’m 6 feet 3 inches tall and I was concerned that the interior would be too cramped for me. But it turns out that the cockpit is spacious and comfortable. My passengers say the same. I often do trips between train stations. Two big suitcases and two pieces of carry-on luggage fit easily in the trunk. It’s perfect.”
So, are the passengers all sold on the idea? “A former Miss France, a senator, TV presenters and complete strangers — I have all kinds of passengers! Although those choosing to ride in Marcel all-electric rideshare vehicles are often environmentally aware, there are several kinds of passengers. The regulars, who are already sold on the idea, ride in electric cars for passenger comfort. With peace and quiet and no vibrations, lots of them take the opportunity to get some work done on the move.
Besides, Marcel passes on the savings made on fuel, which allows us to charge fares that are 15 to 20% lower than those on other similar apps. This allows us to attract budget-conscious passengers. This way we reconcile going green with saving money!
Then there are those getting into a Renault ZOE for the first time, some of whom are foreigners or have never heard of such a car. Mostly curious and pleasantly surprised, these passengers wonder about the range and actual environmental impact of the car.
If they ask me, I explain why I choose to drive an electric car. My stance is clear: between burning through a full tank per week and producing zero CO2 emissions*, the choice is an easy one to make. Going electric isn’t enough to address the climate emergency, but it can be part of the solution. And people are more and more aware of that, especially since we started getting heatwaves.”
There’s no way in the world Bylal would go back to driving regular cars. So much so that he’s thinking of getting a second electric vehicle for his wife. He’s even thinking of supplying his moving company with electric utility vehicles.
*Neither atmospheric emissions of CO2 nor pollutants while driving, excluding wear parts.