23 April 2012 – South African company Optimal Energy which has spent seven years developing the Joule electric car has abandoned the project and will focus its attention on developing electric busses instead.
Business Day reports that Optimal Energy CEO Kobus Meiring broke the news of the mothballing to his staff in an internal communication recently. "The company has been forced to reconsider its business strategy and focus in order to remain financially viable. Due to the financial constraints on the next phase of the P50k (Joule) strategy, the company’s focus in the medium term will move to the development of an electric bus (e-Bus)."
Some R300 million had been spent on the Joule project, with all this funding provided by South Africa’s Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and the Department of Science and Technology, which hold 50% and 30% stakes in Optimal Energy respectively.
Last year Optimal Energy was advised by the IDC that if it were to continue its funding, Optimal would need to get the government’s support for commercialising the Joule, and a partnership with either an automotive original equipment manufacturer or a large player in the industry. Optimal was unable to secure that support.