Optimal Energy is a South African firm with a goal that is widely adopted by new-coming EV manufacturers: reduce our carbon footprint with 0 emission vehicles while creating thousands of new jobs. This pretty much sums up their message in the “Don’t Be a Passenger” campaign. Here is a nifty, albeit, drawn out 4 minute video on their humanitarian mission:
Kind of reminds me of that Crystal Pepsi commercial from the early 90′s.
Anyways, as much as I love saving polar bears and hugging trees, I’m more concerned about when the rubber meets the pavement. South Africa’s Joule was first revealed at the Paris Auto Show of 2008 and scheduled to launch in 2010 (aka, now). Instead, we have slightly redesigned model, a spiffy youtube video, and a new release date in mid 2013. Will the Joule still harbor the same novelty as it did five years before? Hopefully, if all goes well for Nissan (Nissan Leaf), Mitsubishi (iMiev), GM (Volt), and a slew of other potential EV manufacturers, Optimal Energy’s market share will be overcrowded with more established companies by that point.
This is not to say the Joule is not a capable machine. The Joule is a highway speed electric vehicle, with a top speed of 84 mph, and a very solid 185 mile EV range. The Joule receives its power from a 36-kilowatt lithium-ion battery and the ABS-assisted all-disc braking system will be equipped with regenerative braking to help recharge the battery. However, the car’s acceleration leaves much to be desired at 0-60 mph in 15 seconds. In 2013, will these specs keep up with well know car companies vying for a piece of the EV market pie? The price tag is set at a tentative $33,000 before tax incentives. The Joule will have to rely on its Jaguar inspired looks and hefty electric range to compete at that level in 2013.
The Joule is a 6-seater hatchback, designed by Optimal Energy, a privately-owned South African company based in Cape Town that specializes in urban transportation. The exterior and interior design is the work of Jaguar XJ220 designer, Keith Helfet. The Joule is expected to have a 120 mile range with the option of expanding that to 240 miles.
Joule’s first assembly plant is expected to be in Gauteng, South Africa. Joule will be sold in all major South African centers; Gauteng, Cape Town and Durban and will be available towards the end of 2010. The company intends to distribute on a global scale shortly afterward. You can see a neat video on the Joule here.