'Did you know that the first car that ever reached 100 km / h was electric? His name was La Jamais Contente, the Nooittevreden, and he rolled the road in 1898. "At the Concours d'Élégance, an event for car enthusiasts, we speak to Floris de Raadt: inventor-entrepreneur and proud owner of the first Dutch Tesla Model S Shooting-Brake, which he developed himself. Just like MisterGreen, Floris is convinced that electric vehicles are the future. And that technically much more is possible than we now apply. We talk with him about his brand new Tesla, the power of out-of-the-box thinking, and the need to drive electrically.
Ha Floris, you were easy to find: you are the only one here with a plug in his car.
"Right, few lines here. While it was an electric car a hundred and twenty years ago, it hit the three digits for the first time."
Before we start talking about your Tesla, you may have to introduce yourself. Who are you, and what are you doing?
'I am Floris de Raadt, owner of the company Equip Medikey that develops innovative anesthesia and pain control products. Like a needle with a temperature sensor in it. I invented it in 1998, but it always takes about ten or twenty before the medical world is ready for our innovations. Meanwhile, the temperature needle is a success, and we are working on a new product. Probably we will reap the benefits of this in about twelve years - or so I hope."
Sounds like you're in a decent niche market. How did you end up in this?
"It was a compromise between the two worlds in which I lived. Practically everyone in my family is a doctor, but I thought it would be nice to take a different path. Out of the box I chose the study electrical engineering. Then to decide that I did not want to let go of the medical world anyway. I signed up for an internship at Equip Medikey, which at that time still developed tools for almost all medical specialties. Here I could build a bridge between the technical world of my studies, and the physician of my family. In 1997 I took over the company. Since then, we have focused specifically on anesthesia and pain management.'
And now you are also the proud owner of the first Tesla Model S Shooting-Brake: an ordinary Tesla, but then as station wagon. Where does your fascination with shooting brakes come from?
'When I was fifteen and lived in Switzerland, my classmates all dreamed of a Ferrari or Maserati. But I found that much too mainstream. In the newspaper I had seen a tiny advertisement of the Aston Martin DB5 Shooting-Brake: a bizarre car with the nose of a racing car and the back of a van. So out of the box, I thought it was fantastic! He cost 30,000 Swiss francs, about 30,000 euros. I did not have that in my piggy bank. But I hoped to be able to buy it someday."
And, did you succeed?
'No. I did earn more, but the price of that car rose much faster than my salary. At one point I started buying, restoring and selling neglected shooting brakes. I restored cars that had been standing above a slurry pit for years, together with various welders and mechanics. Then I brought them to the auction. With the money I earned with it, I just bought a more expensive wreck. So I hoped to climb up to that one Aston Martin. But unfortunately: that did not help either. I am now fifty, and my dream car costs a million. I will probably never catch up with him."
I was all done with pistons, with those up-and-down movements. I asked MisterGreen if they had no second-hand Tesla for me.
So you decided to develop your own shooting brake. You opted for an electric variant. Why?
'Because the combustion engine is a ridiculous idea. Technically, it is absurd that you let a wheel rotate with up and down movements; how cumbersome do you want it to be? An electric motor rotates around, just like the wheel. Much more logical to put an electric motor in your car. Moreover, it is completely antisocial that we still make our home-garden-and-kitchen rides on fossil fuels. We have to be economical with what the earth has to offer, and therefore with the oil in the ground. If we want the next generations to enjoy a roaring combustion engine from time to time, then we will have to drive our daily trips really electrically.'
And you already had some experience with electric cars.
"Right. In 2008 I had, in addition to my medical work, a showroom with super-fast electric vehicles: from a motorcycle where a stuntman could pull wheelies up to a super sleek car that could drive through traffic jams like a motorcycle. This is how I wanted to show what was possible, at a time when electric driving was not taken very seriously. Unfortunately, it was then a crisis. People were not talking about passion and progress, but about residual debt and depreciation.'
But in that period you did get to know MisterGreen.
'Indeed. MisterGreen was then busy with electric scooters, and later also Segways. They invent themselves over and over again, while they remain close to themselves. Years later I called MisterGreen when the engine of my eighth-hand Jaguar blew up as I rushed along the highway in huge haste. I was all done with pistons, with those up-and-down movements. I asked MisterGreen if they had no second-hand Tesla for me. By coincidence, just one had arrived: with two centimeters on each side, it was just in my garage. Perfect, I thought, I'll take it. Exceptional for that time too, because normally MisterGreen did not get any lease cars back. I think that is different now.'
True, we have [many beautiful occasions available] now (https://www.mistergreendirect.com/en-US/available)! You did not sit still yourself: your own Tesla Model S Shooting-Brake is finally finished. Tell, how did you deal with this?
'The idea to convert a Tesla into a shooting brake came about when I saw the electric hearse of RemetzCar. Apparently they succeeded in 'stretching' an electric car, which is really a difficult job. Electric cars are made of aluminum, for example, which is difficult to weld. I contacted RemetzCar to ask if they saw bread in my plan. Fortunately, they responded positively. At the same time I switched on a designer: Niels van Roij. He made a hundred designs, of which we chose one together. Then the large conversion work could begin. A hell of a job! Together with my wife, I spent a whole holiday looking at the rear window wiper of other cars, because it did not fit nicely on my Tesla. To go mad, but in the end we got it."
The results are impressive! And your car immediately went viral. If you googled it, you get an incredible amount of hits.
"Yes, weird, is not it? While this is just the car with which I do shopping. Sometimes it is recognized when I load a crate of beer; quite weird to experience. On the other hand, I am happy with the publicity. It is the intention that my company Elipo, which I started in 2008 and next to Equip Medikey, will follow up the small-scale production. In that sense, it is good that we have gathered this fame together.'
And have you already forgotten that Aston Martin?
'No, it is not! I still have the hope to find one in a forgotten shed and to completely refurbish it. The technical challenge, I think that's fascinating!'