10 November 2010
Initiatives are under way to commercialise the Joule, a South African developed electric car, Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said during a G8 ministerial conference on global environment and energy in transport in Rome.
The brainchild of Cape Town-based company Optimal Energy, the Joule debuted at the Paris Motor Show in October 2008 and has since received a facelift at the Milan-based Zagato Total Design Centre.
Test fleet on the way
The prototype phase of the battery-operated six-seater is now complete, and the necessary modifications have been made.
But before the commercial version hits the streets, further refinements and feedback from consumers and the media will be incorporated into a test fleet, which will be hand-built, like the prototype, by Hi-Tech Automotive in Port Elizabeth.
The Joule is expected to go into full-scale production at the end of 2013, to appear on South African showroom floors in mid-2014.
Powering towards a ‘green’ economy
Ndebele told G8 ministers in Rome this week that the project was part of South Africa’s plan to move towards a low-carbon economy across all modes of transport.
“Our automotive sector would be profoundly affected by the long-term shift from the internal combustion engine to cleaner technologies, such as electric vehicles,” Nedeble said.
“This project will have broader spillover effects, including the creation of a legislative and regulatory environment to allow the operation of electric vehicles, relevant testing infrastructure for electric vehicles, local manufacturing for domestic and global markets, initiation of charging infrastructure and educational campaigns on electric vehicles.”
As part of its energy supply interventions, South Africa phased out leaded petrol in 2006.
“South Africa has developed and is implementing a number of measures in the development and use of cleaner alternative fuels,” Ndebele said.
“These measures entail high-level coordination with relevant government departments, investors and development finance institutions, to ensure a coherent and coordinated approach to the development of the sector.”
SAinfo reporter and BuaNews