Keith Helfet: The Joule electric car

The inspiring design story of Joule is testament to the possibilities of South African industrial design.

Keith Helfet started his career at UCT before moving onto the Royal College of Art and later working for Jaguar. His latest project has been a collaboration with South African “visionaries” Optimal Energy in creating South Africa’s first locally produced and designed electric car.

The challenge in designing Joule, South Africa’s first electric car, was ensuring that it was contemporary enough to be widely popular.

Idealism in the automotive industry is a curious thing, but it does lead to projects like Joule, says Helfet.

He elaborates on the process of creating this unique automotive, stating that comparing the final product to the computer model is an important part of automotive design, and how in the end it was the Joule’s "sagging bum and pointing headlights" that called for a slight redesign.