The story of the Joule — SA's early attempt at becoming an EV giant

Hanno Labuschagne

Staff member
Sep 2, 2019
The story of the Joule — SA's early attempt at becoming an EV giant

South Africa was close to being one of the first countries to mass-produce passenger electric vehicles (EVs), but unrealistically ambitious sales targets and another costly failed government-funded scientific project saw Tesla and established carmakers take the lead in the industry.

The car that could have put South Africa at the forefront of EV development was the Joule, a four-door multi-purpose vehicle developed by Optimal Energy.
Very funny. That’s not how car manufacturing works however. A handful of cars that the government buys for officials? Really? That was the business case? What about parts and service when something happens somewhere. What if I wanted a car? Or a few hundred of people? We would have needed to wait for years. It’s a nice idea but it could have been sold to an OEM at an early stage of the technology had been so great.
Sure, but did you know that the first electric cars were produced in 1884, about 20 years before the Model T Ford? and that electric vehicles actually pre-date ICE vehicles.
the word "government" gave all the answers needed on why it failed.
Well we can see why so many of our entrepreneurs end up overseas. Those that go end up becoming global brands, and those that stay find their business just dying. Nothing wrong with the innovative spirit within South Africa - just wrong market to be in.
And blackberry couldve beaten Iphone and IBM couldve bought Microsoft for $20 million.

A lot if, but close but no cigar