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SA 'green car' light on wallet

2009-08-28 08:35
Johannesburg - Prospective buyers and drivers of the Joule can look forward to a saving of 25%.

This is how much cheaper this electric car, South Africa's first, will be than competitors in its class.

The saving could be considerably more, reckons Kobus Meiring, chief executive of Optimal Energy, the developer of the Joule, speaking at ITS South Africa's annual general meeting.

The Joule's energy cost is substantially lower than that of a vehicle driven by an engine. At current prices Joule drivers will pay less than 5c per kilometre, compared with 80c per kilometre for conventional petrol or diesel vehicles.

Optimal Energy has already approached Eskom with a proposal that electricity prices be reduced at night, as an incentive for owners of electric cars to recharge their batteries during off-peak times.

First units from June 2010

South Africans will see these 'green' cars from June next year, when the first test vehicles take to the road.

The first vehicles will be assembled in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, jointly. An assembly plant will probably be constructed in East London's industrial development zone, where all production will then take place.

The group expects to produce 500 of these vehicles commercially in 2012 and to push production up to 30 000 in 2013.

Of these, 80% will be for the export market. As regards the sizeable four-year projected production volume, Meiring explains this will be necessary to ensure the sustainability of the business model.

Optimal Energy expects production systematically to climb to 64 000 vehicles in 2015, and break-even to be reached between 2015 and 2016.

10 000 new jobs

The entire project, which will provide 10 000 new jobs by 2017, is expected to cost R5.5bn.

About a third of this will go into the construction of the plant, explains Diana Blake, director of sales and marketing at Optimal Energy.

Government has so far been highly supportive of the project.

"I know you can't tackle a project of this nature without government support," declares Meiring.

A large number of the Joules are expected to be used by government.


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