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Optimal Energy secures funding for the industrialisation of its electric car
April 2009, Cape Town, South Africa: Optimal Energy, the Cape Town based company that unveiled a full electric multi-purpose urban passenger vehicle named Joule to the world at the Paris Autoshow in 2008, has announced industrialisation plans to mass produce the vehicle in South Africa from 2012. This announcement comes on the back of a further share issue to the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), as well as Innovation Fund, the technology investment division of the Department of Science and Technology, for a fourth round capital investment. Optimal Energy intends raising further private capital towards the end of 2009. South Africans can look forward to pilot fleets of Joule on their roads and around the globe from 2010 onwards.
Comments Kobus Meiring, CEO of Optimal Energy, "Optimal Energy is capitalising on South Africa’s technological prowess, its track record of building premium cars for the export market, the current sea of change in transport technology brought about by climate change, pollution and energy security issues, and the immense progress in battery technology. Optimal Energy aims to place South Africa at the frontline of the renewable energy movement with Joule. This investment helps us to drive the industrialisation process, taking us to the next level."
Graham Geldenhuys, CEO of Step Strategic Venturing, a professional services firm appointed to assist Optimal Energy with the development of its strategy and with facilitation of the capital raising process, adds, "There is no question that the electric vehicle is a part of our future. It is a privilege working with a company such as Optimal Energy with a business case that has so much potential to tap into the significant opportunity in the alternative energy vehicle market. Securing investment from the IDC and the Innovation Fund attests to this as well as the ability of a world class management team to get the job done."
Asked if the global economic crisis impacting so heavily on the large automotive manufacturers will hinder production of the Joule, Meiring is firm that it will not. "Interest in the vehicle has been enormous both at a local and international level. The timing of this investment and the planned 2012 start of volume production is ideal. Current market conditions are slowing down the traditional manufacturers’ efforts while the market, especially for clean vehicles, is predicted to be in a strong upward swing from 2012 onwards," he notes.
Once production of Joule begins, Meiring estimates that Optimal Energy, which currently employs more than 80 highly-skilled personnel, will directly increase headcount to around 1,000 employees while a further approximately 5,000 people will be employed in various related and support industries. "We are in the process of selecting a site for our first assembly and manufacturing plant. The location of the plant will be announced later this year," continues Meiring.
Meiring indicates that the Joule will also shatter the stereotype of electric cars being small, slow and unsightly. The Joule is a passenger vehicle with up to six seats, which combines efficiency and performance with an elegant and stylish design. The vehicle was designed by world renowned Keith Helfet, South African born former Jaguar designer; and has received very positive reviews following its 2008 Paris Motor Show unveiling.
"The Joule comes with all the modern specifications and meets or surpasses international standards. It combines class and sustainability in a way that should give all South Africans a welcome boost of national pride in 2010 with these pilot vehicles on the road" concludes Meiring.