A lot has happened since the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam got 167 Model S as taxicabs in 2014. In 2018, BIOS-Groep traded some Model S units Model X vehicles. In its blog, Tesla seemed pretty proud of the deal. The taxi company also looked that way until it revealed that it was its last attempt to keep using the brand's EVs. BIOS-Groep went public because it has had enough: it is now suing Tesla for €1.3 million in losses due to car defects.
This is not the first lawsuit Tesla faces at the Dutch airport. In November 2019, four taxi drivers that used to work for SchipholTaxi sued the company due to the same problems BIOS-Groep now claims to have caused it big financial damages. The difference is that SchipholTaxi did not support the driver's claims.
The new lawsuit information was published by FD (Het Financieele Dagblad) on November 23, but we could not read the article due to its paywall. We tried to contact the journalists who wrote it and also BIOS-Groep after more details on what happened. Unfortunately, we did not hear back from them until the Dutch taxi company published the FD article on its own website.
The page also contains the video you can see above and a list of the defects presented by the cars – not only the current Model X cars, but also the Model S units that preceded them. Regarding the video, if you have not watched it yet, give it a look, and do not forget to turn on the audio. That’s the most important part about it.
As you have seen, the Model X squeaks as if it begged not to be driven again. It probably happened just to shoot the video and the SUV got back to where 20 other vehicles wait for repair. BIOS-Groep said the problems range from suspensions breaking up to a broken power steering. Tofik Ohoudi is the manager of the Schiphol fleet and he told FD he has never faced more trouble than with Tesla cars. The broken wishbones are something he has never seen in vehicles with less than 500,000 kilometers (311,000 miles).
Another company called Taxi Jappie also uses Tesla vehicles at the Schiphol Airport. Its director, Jill Sweijen, said she never had to replace a suspension structural component in any of the Mercedes-Benz the company had. Taxi Jappie currently works with ten Tesla vehicles at the Dutch airport.
Apart from having the same issues, this company had another troubling situation with Tesla. Seven of its ten vehicles had differences in distances between the cars’ odometers and the mileage presented by their BCT (board-computer-taxi, or computerized taximeters). One of them had a difference of more than 4,700 km (2,920 miles).
Tesla consultants would have suggested by email to adjust the car odometers, which could be seen by Dutch authorities as a fraud attempt. FD reports it saw a copy of this message. When Taxi Jappie asked Tesla to write a document justifying why it would do that in the odometers, it never heard back from the company again on the matter.
Back to BIOS-Groep, its factsheet says that the first Model S units it had did not comply with the minimum range requirement of 400 kilometers (249 miles). Tesla would have ensured them it could get 500 km (311 miles). The taxi company said the sedans did not reach even 400 km and that there was an immediate range drop as soon as the cars started to be used, which led them to a maximum range of 360 km (224 miles).
A while later, Tesla would have cut the range by another 15 percent when it set an 85 percent of capacity limit. This is what led Model S owners to sue Tesla back in August 2019: a voltage cap that they claim that was used to conceal battery pack fire risks.
Unhappy about the Model S, BIOS-Groep would have asked for the Model X and paid more €8 million to get 64 units of the electric SUV. It did not present range issues as the Model S. Regardless, the taxi company said the vehicles were much worse than the sedans in terms of reliability. They presented problems on the suspension upper arms, air suspension system, drive shafts, power steering, cameras, touchscreen, air-conditioning, doors, sensors, 12V battery and on Autopilot.
In 2018, BIOS-Groep said Tesla would fix the cars for free. The issue was that the repairs took weeks – one of them was with the Service Center for five months. In 2019, the EV maker started charging and “invoked warranty conditions” the taxi company said it did not know about.
Tesla also started to demand pre-payments and limited the amount of taxicabs it would fix at each time: only two would be allowed to the Amsterdam-Zuidoost Service Center. BIOS-Groep did not manage to talk to Tesla anymore, only through an online form.
For regular customers, that’s can be more than a nuisance. For a taxi company, that’s certain loss. Not only because the stranded cars were not making money, but also because drivers had to be paid, but stayed home waiting for their cars. This is one of the reasons BIOS-Groep is demanding €1.3 million in compensations.
The lawsuit is currently at the Amsterdam District Court. The FD article also informed what happened with the previous lawsuit. Dutch courts have ruled that the four taxi drivers where not the ones that should have sued Tesla but rather Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, the entity that leased them the vehicles.
While BIOS-Groep waits for a new decision, it bought five Audi E-Tron units to use as taxicabs. According to René van der Veer, the company’s CEO, he knows someone will pick up the phone when he needs to have these EVs serviced.
FD tried to contact Tesla but received no reply.