Optimal Energy is the latest company to announce that they are unveiling a new electric car
at the Paris Motor Show
this year and it's one that should definitely impress. Coming all the way from South Africa, the Joule may very well be the world's most practical electric car to date as well as one of the more stylish. Although it has been shown to a handful of journalists there haven't yet been any published photos but it has been described as "an uncluttered mix of a Renault Scenic
and a Citroen Picasso
." The Minister of Science and Technology, Mosibudi Mangena, had a chance to drive it last week and he called it "simply gorgeous." If that's not convincing enough, consider that the designer of this compact 6-seater is Keith Helfet who, while he worked for Jaguar
, impressed many sets of eyes with the XJ220
and the F-Type Concept
Of course, when it comes to all-electric cars, the range is of utmost importance and the head of the company, Kobus Meiring, has said that two lithium ion battery packs will move the Joule for 400 km (248 miles). Plugged into a 220 volt power source, a full charge is achievable in 7 hours. The body, said to be a mix of plastic and composites, sits on a steel space frame and is described as spacious and versatile. It has taken the company over two years to reach this point and it hopes to begin production by the end of 2010. If they can achieve the targeted retail price of R200,000 ($24,618), they should have a real winner on their hands. We'll be watching.
*Update: The 7 hour charge time given is for a single battery configuration.