Joule electric car
Joule electric car. Click image to enlarge

Cape Town, South Africa – The Joule, a full electric multi-purpose urban passenger vehicle unveiled at the Paris Auto Show in 2008, is planned for mass production in South Africa in 2012. Its producer, Optimal Energy, said that pilot fleets can be expected on South African roads and around the globe from 2010 onwards.

The company’s announcement follows new funding via the Industrial Development Corporation and the Innovation Fund, a division of the Department of Science and Technology. Optimal Energy intends raising further private capital later in the year.

“Optimal Energy is capitalizing on South Africa’s technological prowess, its track record of building premium cars for the export market, the current sea of change in transport technology brought about by climate change, pollution and energy security issues, and the immense progress in battery technology,” said CEO Kobus Meiring. “Optimal Energy aims to place South Africa at the frontline of the renewable energy movement with Joule. This investment helps us to drive the industralization process, taking us to the next level.”

Meiring said that the global economic crisis will not hinder vehicle production. “Interest in the vehicle has been enormous both at a local and international level,” he said. “The timing of this investment and the planned 2012 start of volume production is ideal. Current market conditions are slowing down the traditional manufacturers’ efforts while the market, especially for clean vehicles, is predicted to be in a strong upward swing from 2012 onwards.”

The company is in the process of selecting an assembly and manufacturing plant site, and expects it will increase from its current 80 to workers to around 1,000, with a further 5,000 people employed in various related and support industries.

The Joule, which was designed by former Jaguar designer Keith Helfet, seats up to six people.

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