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SA's Joule to bleed more money?

2011-11-24 09:07

SIZZLER: The SA-built Joule was unveiled to the world at the 2010 Geneva auto show, but its series production could be stalled by cashflow issues.

It could cost a lot of green to put South Africa's first home-grown "green" vehicle, the Joule electric car, into commercial production.

"The projected (yet to be verified) investment required to commercialise the Joule is approximately R9-billion," minister for science and technology Naledi Pandor said in a written reply to a parliamentary question on Wednesday, November 23, 2011.

This amount would cover "all production-related matters such as production development, manufacturing and retail operations, to mention but a few", she said.

The battery-driven Joule - developed and designed by the company Optimal Energy - is aimed at urban users. It has a maximum range of 300km and a top speed of 135km/h. It was unveiled at the 2010 Geneva auto show


The government has a shareholding in Optimal Energy.

To date, a few score hand-built Joules have been produced as demonstration models, science and technology director-general Phil Mjwara confirmed to Sapa on Wednesday. Since 2006, the government had invested R125-million on the Joule's development but denied that planned production of the electric vehicle had stalled.

Discussions were under way between his department, trade and industry and other stakeholders on the best way forward.

"At the moment, we're looking at various options... to determine what route we want to go. These will be tabled early next year," Mjwara said.

According to Optimal Energy's website, the Joule will be "in mass manufacture" from 2013, and available for sale in mid-2014.


On the retail price of the car - which appears to be aimed at the upper end of the market - it says this "cannot be fixed now".

In her reply, Pandor said Pandor said government was developing a position paper on the Joule.

"The position paper will indicate government support and plans for the electric vehicle industry, including the Joule," she said.  

A second-generation prototype of the Joule will be among examples of so-called green technology on display in Durban next week during the COP17 climate conference. Wheels24 will also be in Durban to drive the Nissan Leaf, which enjoyed its South African preview at the recent Johannesburg international auto show.

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