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Click above for a gallery of the Optimal Joule

Optimal Energy, the outfit behind the six-seat Joule electric vehicle, is taking the next step towards producing the space age minivan in South Africa. First introduced at the Paris Motor Show, the practical Joule is on target for a debut on South African streets next year thanks to funding that was secured by Optimal to build the car there (specific details on the plant will be announced later this year). The money is coming from private and public sources, and full volume production - 50,000 units a year, most for export - is planned for 2012. The plan is for the li-ion Joule to be offered with either an asynchronous permanent magnet motor powering the front wheels or asynchronous permanent magnet in-wheel motors for either rear or four-wheel drive. Batteries will be leased. Range should be about 250 miles, but that will change based on the battery configuration the buyer chooses. A 120-mile pack should cost around $160 U.S. a month, says Green Car Congress.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 2 Months Ago
      What is the difference between paying $160 for gas at the pump every month or paying $160/mo for batteries? Little less CO2, few less handouts to our enemies?

      I agree that battery leasing=fail. Put it into the price of the car if you have to. But $25-30K for a car, then 160/mo for batteries, and some more for insurance means I won't be buying one.
      • 2 Months Ago
      Battery leasing=FAIL
      • 2 Months Ago

      It looks pretty good -- plenty big, and reasonably aerodynamic. $160 month for 120 mile range batteries also sounds quite reasonable. Battery lease = automatic updates and maintenance and they own the problems.

      Sincerely, Neil
      • 2 Months Ago
      Looks good. 250 mile range would make it useful. The devil is in the details and the main detail is cost. Potential buyers have to do the math. If it costs $480/mo for battery rental, that is going to severely restrict the potential market. How will it stand up against a Tata Nano in cost/mile? The majority of people in the market for a very small car cannot afford a huge premium for a green car.