By Jimmy Magahern*
It’s 11:30 on a Thursday morning, and David Lucht is recharging – both himself, with a cold brew at Press Coffee Roasters, and his 2014 Tesla Model S, which is currently hooked up to one of the 16 charging stations in the parking lot at Scottsdale Quarter. “They’ve got the superchargers here,” Lucht says, excitedly.
Above: David Lucht launched Scottsdale Chauffeur Services with his late twin, Douglas, in 2001 (Photo by Kimberly Carrillo / Scottsdale Airpark News)
As the owner of Scottsdale Chauffeur Services as well as its primary driver, Lucht has learned where all of the electric vehicle charging stations are throughout the Valley – and the Quarter has among the most, with four universal Volta chargers and four Tesla stations in addition to the 16 in the parking lot. It’s essential knowledge for his job: Lucht’s company is the first in Arizona to offer chauffeured transportation service using a primarily Tesla fleet, giving customers a choice of either a red Model S sedan or a black Model X SUV.
“I can monitor the charging on the Tesla app, and it’ll alert me when it’s ready,” Lucht says, displaying an image on his smartphone that shows his Model S currently charged. “If I’m having lunch on the road, it’ll tell me, ‘Hey, you’re ready to go,’ I hop in the car and I’m ready for my next stop.”
Right now, he’s getting ready to travel about 24 miles into Phoenix. “This is my next customer,” he says, pointing to a map on his phone and zooming in on AZ Ice Arcadia, where former Soviet hockey pro Boris Dorozhenko teaches a high-intensity hockey camp that’s become popular with prominent families in both the Arcadia and North Scottsdale zip codes. “I have to pick up a kid at a hockey rink. He’s at a summer camp, and this week I’m driving him to and from camp.”
It’s a ride that’ll cost the kid’s parents a minimum fare of $400, going by the rates quoted on Scottsdale Chauffeur Services’ app, but that’s within line for Lucht’s clients, who primarily live in the more affluent DC Ranch, Silverleaf and Greyhawk neighborhoods. Lucht admits the car itself is a major draw for this set, who, like Hollywood’s A-list, have fallen in love with the environmentally chic, Silicon Valley-made sports sedan. “A lot of them are Tesla owners themselves, or else they’re just curious about the car,” he says. “I get as much attention in this as I used to get driving a $400,000 Rolls Royce Phantom.”
Above: Lucht's Model X and S (Photo by David Lucht at Scottsdale Hangar One)
Lucht got into the business nearly 20 years ago, when he landed his first chauffer job. “Back then, I was driving Town Cars and using paper maps and a manual credit card imprinter,” he says with a laugh. Together with his twin brother Douglas, a sportsman and inline skating record-holder who tragically died of a brain tumor last November, Lucht launched his own chauffeur service in 2001. After graduating from Lincolns to BMWs to a Bentley and a Rolls Royce, Douglas became infatuated with the Tesla (David touchingly recalls serving as his brother’s chauffer in one during his final days), and Lucht now feels spiritually bonded with the brand.
It’s time to leave for his next fare and Lucht instinctively fires up the Tesla app and starts the air conditioner before polishing off his coffee at Press.
“By the time we get to the car, it should be around 65 degrees,” he says, trudging along the Quarter’s sidewalks in 107-degree summer heat. Once in the parking garage, he pushes a button to disconnect the charger from the car, happily noting that the Model S and Model X still get to use the superchargers for free.
Lucht says that in the old days of chauffeuring, his customers, which he ferried to fancy dinners and exclusive events, would often feel pity for the driver stuck outside, waiting in a hot Town Car with a paperback and a bottle of water. No one feels sorry for the Tesla chauffeur, though, he says.
“I’ve got a 17-inch screen in here where I can surf the web,” he says, smiling. Better yet, Lucht never has to get hot again waiting on a client to finish their event.
Above: Scottsdale Chauffeur Services does a lot of business in the Airpark area, especially at Scottsdale Airport (Photo by Kimberly Carrillo / Scottsdale Airpark News)
“The great thing about the car is you can keep the AC running and it’s not wearing on the full engine,” he says. “As long as I’ve got enough of a charge, I can leave it running for hours and it’s not going to overheat. It’s pretty much a chauffeur’s dream.”