Everyone is joining in the race to create the definitive new widely accepted publicly-used electric car. We’ve got large corporations like the Renault-Nissan Alliance and even recently BMW but one of the unique beauties of electric cars seems to be the ability for small companies such as Optimal Energy to join the fray as well.
Optimal Energy is a South African company based in Cape Town that was funded by the Department of Science and Technology of the South African Government. It’s electric vehicle entree is the Joule, a 6-seater MPV that at first impression seems to be following the footsteps of the Fiat Multipla to win the ugliest car/MPV of the year award.
The Multipla was a 6-seater too, but Honda has proven with the Edix that it is quite possible to create a 2-row 6-seater that doesn’t hurt the eyes, so why does it have to look like this, Optimal Energy?
Perhaps it’s in the interest of aerodynamics as the overall silhouette of the vehicle kind of reminds you of the Mercedes-Benz Bionic Car Concept which was based on the shape of a fish that cuts through water quite well, so it must be very good in cutting through air as well. The Joule’s body uses a steel spaceframe combined with composite (glass and carbon) and plastic body panels.
The Optimal Energy Joule is an electric vehicle, and while no exact horsepower/kilowatt stats were quoted, it can go from 0 to 100km/h in 15 seconds and go on to a top speed of 135km/h. The standard Joule is front wheel drive via a motor driving the front wheels through an 8:1 reduction gearbox, but Optimal Energy is also working on in-wheel motors for rear-wheel or all-wheel drive.
The vehicle uses a modular large-cell lithium ion battery pack with the capacity of 200km per module. The chassis can fit 2 modules which means a 400km theoretical maximum range. The batteries can be recharged on the go via brake energy regeneration, and as for plug-in charging, the car has an on-board charger which means you don’t need any additional charging equipment installed in your garage.
Other remaining technical details you should know (and were revealed) are: the car has ABS and airbags, and the suspension uses MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion beam at the rear.
Look after the jump for a collection of photos of the Joule.
PHOTO GALLERY: Optimal Energy Joule
Click thumbnails to view high resolution photo
[zenphotopress number=99 album=13]