The Joule was meant to be the first South African foray into electric car production, but it never saw light of day.

South Africa has always lagged behind the world when it came to offering incentives for greener motoring, but now local manufacturers will be receiving incentives to build electric cars in the country.

"South Africa must not be left behind in greening initiatives and technology," Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies told reporters in Johannesburg.

He was speaking at the announcement of what had been dubbed the Electronic Vehicle Industry Road Map.

In terms of the road map, producers of electric cars would have to make 5000 such vehicles before they qualified for an incentive. The government would reimburse the manufacturer with 35 percent of his production cost over three years.

Davies said the map was meant to encourage development of infrastructure for the local production of electric cars.

"What will make these vehicles sellable in South Africa will be entirely dependent on whether these cars are made in South Africa."

NO CONSUMER INCENTIVES

Davies said the government was looking at consumer incentives, but that production was taking preference at the moment.

"These are the very early stages for the cars in manufacturing. There are zero of these cars being produced in the country, that is why we need to get the programmes going."

In February, Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa announced a public-private pilot test project for an emission-free electric car. Molewa was present at Thursday's event.

She said there were three charging stations available in the country which were run entirely on solar power.

"We aim to have 50 charging stations in the country for the cars by 2015." IOL & Sapa