SA's Joule EV snuffed out

2012-04-19 15:19

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.


The 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.

  • goyougoodthing - 2012-04-19 19:47

    300 million of our money wasted. Sounds like another form of tender

  • Richard - 2012-04-19 20:50

    Koubus was involved with the Rooivalk look how much money that leaked. Now the joule has done the same. Wonder what the bus will do? See the common thread. Its one big fraud

      Graeme - 2012-04-20 06:59

      funding must be up for cars and helicopters but still available for buses

  • louis.nel.za - 2012-04-20 09:00

    The ANC's major source of revenue is the exorbitant levies on our fuel. Why would they invest in an electric vehicle that would compromise this income? That would be conflicting business interests.

      justin.pretorius - 2012-04-20 09:09

      You are right. They spent 20bn on e-tolls and how many billions on Kouga. They will not kill their source of income to the benefit of the country

      musazwane - 2012-04-20 10:14

      Louis.nel, that completely wrong. Sa has one of the lowest fuel tax rates in the world.

  • Lourens - 2012-04-20 09:37

    If I had 9 billion rand I would invest in them.

  • Eugene - 2012-04-20 09:42

    Technology development is one thing (and we've seen that it can be done well in SA, e.g. Rooivalk and Joule), effectively commercialising it is generally where the real costs lie - we now know that the base technology works, so let's find a commercialisation partner (who has the funds and the willingness to invest), before going down the development road (only to be blocked at the commercialisation stage because of a lack of funding, or an appetite for investment).

  • djbakes - 2012-04-20 11:01

    Who's surprised, how many electric cars have been developed and do you ever see any?

  • Bart - 2012-05-22 10:27

    R 300 mil.May I have a breakdown of the costs and where the monies all went Kobus. Just wondering.....

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