It was billed as South Africa’s electric car hope but has Optimal Energy’s Joule fizzled out?The Business Day reported on Thursday that the Joule, developed and engineered by Cape Town-based Optimal Energy, has been shelved. The automaker’s CEO, Kobus Meiring, said the company would instead focus on the development of an electric bus. Meiring told the Business Day that the Joule project had, to date, cost R300m; funding which had been provided by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and the Department of Science and Technology.CHANGING TACKThe IDC in 2011 advised Optimal Energy to commercialise the Joule and secure a partnership with an automotive manufacturer to retain the agency’s funding. The minister for science and technology Naledi Pandor said in a written reply to parliament on November 23, 2011: The projected investment required to commercialise the Joule is approximately R9-billion.”The change in business strategy from MPV to e-bus was apparently required after Optimal Energy failed to secure additional funding for the project. Meiring said discussions with municipalities regarding the purchasing of electric buses by municipalities for public transport had been “positive”.The Joule was initially met with great acclaim by the automotive world and even enjoyed a star debut at the 2010 Geneva auto show.