Courting auto companies for inve$tment$ to boost production
African electric car team in Asia funding drive Feb 18 2011
By Wendell Roelf CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Developers of Africa's first
all-electric car are courting top Asian auto companies to raise close
to $1 billion and boost production to 50,000 units a year by 2015, an
executive said on Friday. The five-seater multi-purpose Joule launched
at the Paris Motor Show in 2008.
It is being developed mainly for the international market by privately
owned South African company Optimal Energy. "We've gone to Korea,
China and India to major car manufacturers. There is a lot of
interest," Optimal Energy Chief Executive Kobus Meiring told Reuters.
He did not want to name any potential partners. "To go into
high-volume production you need about 7 billion rand, which includes
setting up a plant," said Meiring, adding 8,000-12,000 jobs could be
The company has a plant in South Africa's automotive hub of East
London, but it can only make 1,000 cars a year, too few for commercial
success. Africa's largest economy has identified green industries as
one of its key focus areas of growth, and Meiring felt the Joule,
supported by 150 million rand in government funding, was a prime
example to boost technology and innovation.
"It's an opportunity for South Africa for the first time in 100 years
to become the owner of an automotive brand and how this rubs off on
everything," said Meiring. The Joule, driven by rechargeable lithium
ion batteries, would use a normal 220 volt home outlet to power up. It
will have a range of about 300 kilometres and top speed 140 kph.
It is aimed at urban car users and will compete with other top
manufacturers, such as Toyota ... that have invested heavily to
encourage green motoring among drivers worried about high fuel costs,
harmful emissions and global warming. "All of the market information
we have today says that the UK and Europe will be the first electric
vehicle markets, with China catching up soon," Meiring said.
More than 80 percent of Joules made are destined for export. Meiring
said the Joule would cost local customers in the region of 240,000
rand at today's prices. Europeans would pay about 21,000 euros.
[TheAfricaReport.com. All rights reserved]
[ 1 South African Rand = 0.139780963231 US Dollar ]
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