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.