CAPE TOWN, South Africa — The Joule. It’s not just a word used to describe a certain amount of electrical or mechanical energy. It’s also the name of a bold new electric vehicle, which is part of an African-driven project to create a cleaner, more energy efficient fleet of cars that could have a positive impact on climate change.
The sporty-looking five passenger vehicle can travel about 150 miles on one charge and recharges from a simple wall outlet. The excess energy it generates can even be sold back to the electricity grid.
Despite its green pedigree, the car has a lot of defense technology built into it by its creators at Cape Town-based defense contractor Optimal Energy. Former missile technicians were brought on board the project and have helped create the new car from the ground-up.
There is only one moving part, other than the wheels, and the car glides forward in a quiet whir. The batteries will be owned by the company and if they have their way, stations to replace or charge them will be everywhere.
This keeps the price of the vehicle apace with their fuel-burning cousins, but reduces the cost of running compared to a gasoline model by at least seventy percent.
The company has been supported by South Africa's department of Energy, but also hopes to find international partners to help them move the model into full production by 2015. Not a moment too soon for a planet running short of time.