Africa's First All-Electric Car Developed in Cape Town (VIDEO)

Cape Town takes eco-friendly innovation a step further and gets another Joule in its crown

South Africa's first
locally-developed electric car, the Joule, has been launched.

It is the result of years of research and hard work by Cape Town-based Optimal Energy in association with legendary South African-born automotive designer Keith Helfet.

The Joule is a zero-emissions, six-seater, multi-purpose vehicle and made its debut at the Paris Motor Show recently. It uses just 20% of the energy used by a conventional car.

According to Optimal Energy, the world's finite energy resources are being used inefficiently, with urban transport playing a major role in energy wastage and climate-changing pollution – something the company aims to change with the Joule.

Optimal Energy aims to use the Joule to fulfil its vision of establishing and leading the electric vehicle industry in South Africa as a springboard to global expansion.

The Joule's interior and exterior was styled by Keith Helfet who has a long and illustrious history as chief stylist at Jaguar, being responsible for such iconic designs as the XJ220, the XK180 and the F-Type.

“Optimal Energy was searching for a world class designer, and the fact that Keith is South African born and has strong South African roots matched our criteria perfectly,” said CEO Kobus Meiring.

Using a normal 220-volt home outlet and the Joule's onboard charger, it will take approximately seven hours to recharge the car's battery pack for a 200-kilometre driving range – with the two battery packs providing 400 kilometres in total.

"Studies show that 99% of urban users drive less than 150 kilometres a day, [and] Optimal Energy recommends that only one battery pack is necessary to power Joule," said Meiring.

Joule will be sold in all major South African centres - throughout Gauteng, Cape Town and Durban - and will be available towards the end of 2010.

The Joule was also developed with the international market in mind, and sales and exports will follow shortly after the South African launch.

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