Optimal Energy, the Cape-based company behind the Joule, South Africa’s first electric car, is to shut down with the loss of 60 jobs after R300 million was invested to develop the vehicle.
Kobus Meiring, the company’s chief executive, said yesterday that the decision had already been taken to close the company and all the employees would officially be given notice by Friday.
Meiring said about 60 people would be affected this week but the group had a workforce of almost 100 in January and had been going through a staff reduction process.
The firm would be voluntarily wound down after a decision taken by its board, as funding for the project was not forthcoming. This meant the board could not fulfil its corporate or fiduciary duties.
The board and management of the company, together with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), had been working on a revised strategy for the group after it could not secure R7 billion required to industrialise its electric car.
NOT GETTING ON THE BUS EITHER
This would have involved developing an electric bus using the intellectual property developed by Optimal Energy for the Joule.
However, Meiring said the IDC had decided against providing further funding for the project last Wednesday and TIA took a similar decision the previous week. The IDC has invested R200m in Optimal Energy and TIA R100m.
Meiring said Optimal Energy’s only debts were with TIA and the IDC, which had committed to pay all outstanding debts and settle with the company’s employees.
“This is my dream and vision and what I want to do. I’ve not given anything else any thought,” he said.
Meiring said it was unclear what would happen to the intellectual property created by Optimal Energy, adding it had been involved in long discussions with the IDC about this. -Business Report