CAR magazine has just received the following press release from Optimal Energy, announcing its closure. Hopefully other local projects can be found to keep the large number of extremely bright engineers who worked on the Joule project in this country. CAR tested the compay's Joule electric car early in 2011 and came away very impressed with its locally-developed drivetrain and proposed packaging. Whatever the problems may have been with the business plan, the product seemed to be on the money.
"Over the last few months, Optimal Energy Management and the Board, together with the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (IDC) and the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) have been working toward a revised strategy for Optimal Energy. This strategy would make use of existing intellectual property developed by Optimal Energy for the Joule, and applied to a short term, profitable project, this being the “e-Bus” project.
In a special board meeting of Optimal Energy directors held on 21 June 2012 the notification from the shareholders, IDC and TIA, not to fund the “E-Bus” strategy was reviewed. Based on the lack of the required funding available, the Board made the decision to shutdown Optimal Energy as soon as possible.
Optimal Energy was founded in 2005 and is the company responsible for the Joule, South Africa’s first electric car. While funded by TIA and the IDC, Optimal Energy has proven its ability to develop an electric drive train and battery system through the Joule electric passenger car, a vehicle that has been internationally praised by motoring journalists for its performance.
Although successfully launched in Paris in 2008 and Geneva in 2010 and attracting the interest of more than 130 distributors worldwide, the development of the Joule EV has been hampered by the slow availability of funding. Although further investigations into the development of alternative mobility solutions to create a revenue stream for Optimal Energy have been investigated, and reviewed by both TIA and the IDC, it was concluded that although the project is technically possible, there were several commercial risks that threatened the success of the project.
Optimal Energy CEO Kobus Meiring is “extremely disappointed, but confident about the future of electric mobility”.