Designed by South African-born Keith Helfet, Joule has been developed from a static display model and engineering prototype into a pre-production prototype by Zagato’s Total Design Centre.
Optimal Energy completed the prototype phase with the completion of the HT4 test vehicle, know as Spot because of the spotty camouflage used to disguise its feature lines. HT4 was designed specifically to operate as the next-generation testing vehicle, and its sole purpose was to give feedback to the engineers regarding battery performance, drive, handling and software.
The information received from Spot will be implemented in the production of the marketing fleet, which is currently underway. These vehicles will be used to gauge media and customer feedback, which in turn will be implemented in the production version of Joule.
Full-scale production of Joule will begin at the end of 2013, with cars in showrooms by mid-2014. Key design goals for the finished product include a range of 230 kilometers (143 miles) based on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) or 300 km (186 miles) using the Urban Dynamometer Driving Schedule (UDDS), integration with existing charging infrastructure, a genuine freeway cruising capability, seating for five, a 5-star NCAP safety rating and a retail price that will place Joule in a competitive position in the C-segment of the automotive market.
Optimal Energy has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with EDAG, a German automotive full service supplier, to industrialize the Joule.
Optimal Energy has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Energy Innovation Group (EIG), a South Korean lithium battery cell supplier, to explore the potential of setting up a manufacturing facility in South Africa, for the non-exclusive supply of cells to Optimal Energy. (Earlier post.) The Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (IDC), as potential investor, is party to this Memorandum. The IDC is currently an investor in Optimal Energy.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) of South Africa has just announced its 2010 – 2013 Industrial Policy Action Plan, in which the commercialization of South Africa’s electric car is specifically addressed. This includes the provision of appropriate support to encourage local manufacture of EVs and related components, infrastructure roll-out for such EVs, creation of testing facilities, provision of demand stimulation mechanisms and public education on the use and benefits of alternative energy source vehicles.