Optimal Energy, a privately-owned South African company based in Cape Town, is launching an indigenous all-electric vehicle. Named Joule, the zero-emission car is a six-seater MPV (multi-purpose vehicle). Designed by Optimal Energy in association with South African-born automotive designer, Keith Helfet, the Joule made its global debut at the Paris Motor Show (04-19 October).
|Optimal Energy’s Joule. Click to enlarge.|
Joule has two drive options: a purpose-built asynchronous permanent magnet motor driving the front wheels through an 8:1 reduction gearbox; and asynchronous permanent magnet motors located in the wheels, for rear or four wheel drive.
Joule’s chassis has been designed to accommodate two large format lithium-ion battery packs. Using a 220V home outlet and Joule’s onboard charger, it will take approximately seven hours to recharge a single Joule battery pack for a 200 km (124 miles) driving range, with two packs providing 400 km (249 miles) in total. Joule’s battery bay can accommodate a number of different battery configurations from different suppliers, giving the customer the choice of performance and cost.
An analysis by Eskom, the country’s sole electricity provider, concluded that the South African grid has enough capacity to supply electrical energy to millions of cars without affecting its customer base or requiring any additional infrastructure. Eskom has excess electricity between 11 pm and 6 am; this will be the recommended recharging time.
Optimal is evaluating the South African Province of Gauteng for its first assembly plant as it has the biggest cities and has expressed interest in placing the first fleet orders. Although supplier lists are not yet final, it is expected that the local content of Joule will be more than 50%. Optimal plans to sell Joule in all major South African centers—Gauteng, Cape Town and Durban. Joule will be available towards the end of 2010. Joule was developed for the international market and sales and exports will follow shortly after the South African launch.
(A hat-tip to Albertus!)