News24

SA electric car on ice as cash dries up

2012-04-19 14:57

Cape Town - The South African electric car has been put on hold while the developer works to find international partnerships to produce the vehicle.

The Joule is touted as an answer to city pollution, but the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), which has invested a significant amount of money in the project, has told developer Optimal Energy that in order to receive more funding for the project, it had to find a suitable partner to commercialise the vehicle.

Optimal Energy failed to secure a partner and money from the state evaporated, despite support from President Jacob Zuma at the COP 17 climate change summit held in Durban.

Optimal Energy said it will focus on the development of an electrically powered bus in the medium term, even though CEO Kobus Meiring said the company remains committed to producing the Joule.

"Entering the electric bus market requires a much smaller amount of capital expenditure up front, with a positive return on investment in a short time, followed by major opportunity for growth," Optimal Energy said in a statement.

Capital


The Joule project has faced challenges, and at the International Battery Conference in 2011, Meiring said the Joule's battery safety remained a difficult challenge.

"Safety is holding us back. In remote controlled aeroplanes they double that [battery power] already, but it's a toy, so it's not such a big issue," he told News24 at the time.

The company says that it is using the electric bus development to raise capital to continue the development of the Joule at a later stage.

"While going through the fundraising process, Optimal Energy has investigated alternative strategies and found that there are a number of applications for this proven technology, of which the electric bus market represents the most feasible business right now," the firm said.

The company had planned a target of 50 000 cars a year and production was slated to begin in 2014.

The Joule development is estimated to have cost R300m so far and major shareholders include the IDC at 50% share along with the department of science and technology at 30%.



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Comments
  • Albert - 2012-04-19 15:05

    If you need to plug it into an electricity supply to recharge the batteries, how can it be 'clean energy' as the electricity that we generate in South Africa is mostly coal based? Please explain someone!

      War Lord - 2012-04-19 15:09

      BushBoy what you say is true in the South African context, but if we can manufacture this car and export it, it would create a lot of new jobs and bring in foreign investment and have a very positive effect on our balance of payment.

      Alan - 2012-04-19 15:27

      @War Lord - that doesnt make it green! Maybe they are planning to paint all the cars green?

      Ernst - 2012-04-19 15:49

      @Bushboy: "Charging" a petrol car by filling up with petrol or diesel is a very dirty process. The oil has to be: 1) Extracted (this generates greenhouse gasses and oil spills) 2) Transported to refineries (this generates greenhouse gasses) 3) Refined into petrol or diesel (this generates greenhouse gasses i.e. uses electricity that comes from burning coal) 4) Stored 5) Transported to filling stations (this generates greenhouse gasses) 6) Burned in your car (this generates greenhouse gasses) on the other hand, an electric car uses electricity to charge a battery. This electricity can come from a variety of sources i.e. solar, wind, nuclear, coal etc. To conclude: Even if dirty electricity is used, an EV is still substantially cleaner than a petrol / diesel car.

      Mark - 2012-04-19 15:59

      It's a case of economies of scale. It's overall more efficient to generate energy in vast quantities in one place (hopefully close to the fuel mines [coal/uranium]) than to have each person generate their own (w

      Albert - 2012-04-19 16:04

      Thanks Ernst, but is it a viable option for general use or does it confine you to city use only? What does the future hold for longer distance travel? Are fuel cells not a better option? Just want to know.

      War Lord - 2012-04-19 16:11

      BushBoy, Ernst will probably have a better reply for you, but my take is that hybrid technology will have to be used until we have developed better battery power. We really need more hybrid cars on our market. The Prius and Honda are just too feminine for me and the Lexus is too expensive.

      Ernst - 2012-04-19 16:13

      @Bushboy: See the links below: http://www.ibm.com/smarterplanet/us/en/smart_grid/article/battery500.html http://www.pcworld.com/article/248159/ibm_develops_a_lithiumair_battery_with_a_500mile_range_for_electric_cars.html

      renesongs - 2012-04-19 17:50

      This simple answer Bushboy is that an internal combustion engine loses up to 60% of its energy to friction, heat and noise while an electric engine loses 20% or less therefore it requires less fuel to get you from A to B and back again.

      Dave - 2012-04-19 19:52

      @renesongs: Less than 30% of the energy available in coal actually leaves the power station, then there are the distribution losses, etc. Then 20% of that is "lost" in the motor as you say. this leaves 20-22% of the initial energy available for motion

      curbylee1 - 2012-04-19 20:57

      The fact that the usage of electricity gives this car a much smaller carbon footprint makes it green. And not ll electricity comes from coal. Electricity czan be generated from the sun, so it depends on the customer who uses it. The fact that it might still use electricity generated from coal would still make this car green. Causecgreen does not mean everything needs to be carbon clean, rather carbon managed. Many green cars still use normal fuel combined with electricity or gas, and yes its called green cause it is a reduces footprint. I man though very disturbed that gov cannot fund thiscporject fully, for it will create a lot of jobs and infrastructure. Bad move from gov, even though they planned on raising availible jobs.... Hopecthey get this back on track..

  • War Lord - 2012-04-19 15:07

    I am holding all my thumbs on this one. It would be a HUGE boost for our economy!

      Fredster - 2012-04-19 15:26

      I agree, but be carerfull... just now someone has the same idea as the eTolls

      War Lord - 2012-04-19 15:36

      LOL LOL Fredster!!!!! You are so RIGHT!

  • Nigel - 2012-04-19 15:08

    the money from the Government didn't evaporate, its was used to fund bogus tenderpreneurs, so rather than develop the economy & create jobs, the ANC Govt seems more interested in wasting money on parties, tenders, vehicles & name changes.

      justin.pretorius - 2012-04-19 15:25

      Indeed, if the money was spent properly in this area instead of dodgy deals and e-tolling, we would already be making the Joule here in 2013. But then again, no big backhanders to be made, therefore no money

  • Sean - 2012-04-19 15:23

    Ask the ANC for the money!They've rape South Africa dry from all the funds we once had with all their bickering and infighting for control of everything in South Africa.I've never seen such a horrid,incompetent,only looking after yourselves Government like you have in this bastard of a government like the cancerous ANC.

  • Alan - 2012-04-19 15:29

    Eish Eish - With what Eskom is charging for 'dirty' coal produced electricity, I seriously doubt that this vehicle will be enviro friendly in SA or cost effective here.

      Ernst - 2012-04-19 15:53

      @ Alan: "Charging" a petrol car by filling up with petrol or diesel is a very dirty process. The oil has to be: 1) Extracted (this generates greenhouse gasses and oil spills) 2) Transported to refineries (this generates greenhouse gasses) 3) Refined into petrol or diesel (this generates greenhouse gasses i.e. uses electricity that comes from burning coal) 4) Stored 5) Transported to filling stations (this generates greenhouse gasses) 6) Burned in your car (this generates greenhouse gasses) on the other hand, an electric car uses electricity to charge a battery. This electricity can come from a variety of sources i.e. solar, wind, nuclear, coal etc. To conclude: Even if dirty electricity is used, an EV is still substantially cleaner than a petrol / diesel car.

  • farmfreund - 2012-04-19 15:37

    We dont always have electricity, how far could you drive? on a promise

      Enaud - 2012-04-19 15:44

      you can drive as far as the extension cable allows you :)

      Ernst - 2012-04-19 15:53

      @farmfreund: You forget that refining oil into petrol or diesel also consumes electricity.

      farmfreund - 2012-04-19 16:19

      Enaud Bwahahahaha, African High Tech electric car, SA6543 Cable model, LoL

  • Michael - 2012-04-19 15:39

    Yay! Rather spend money on e-toll than technology!

  • Faizie - 2012-04-19 15:56

    Ah a 3rd force white afrikaaner conspiracy. Take the taxi dudez

  • Konstabel - 2012-04-19 16:06

    This is another expensive White Elephant. It's a nice dream for SA to produce their own electric car you cannot compete with the established motor companies such as GM, VW and Nissan when it comes developing a conventional passanger car. They have much bigger development budgets, test facilites, production plants, distribution networks and much, much more experience. And I don't think any of them are interested in investing in the Joule as the technology used is already outdated. They need to rather focus on specialized electric utility vehicles where you don't have to compete with the big players.

  • frikkie.botes - 2012-04-19 20:01

    Malemas 16 mil house is more important than a little electric car. Zumas 6 wives houses are more important than a little electric car. ANC officials jet set life is more important than a little electric car.

  • curbylee1 - 2012-04-19 21:07

    Wonder what the effect of import tax have to do with this decision. For gov would loose billions on import tax if this car is made here. I do not know how exports fare against imported car where gov taxes are concerned. There is so much business interference in this country, it might take another 20 hears B4 we see another SA car. I was debating this for long...."How is it that we do not have our own car make."????Strange for a country that has all the recources to do so.

      Arthur - 2012-04-20 07:31

      Depending on how many jobs it creates they'd make all their tax back from salaries. Don't quote me on that though ;-)

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