You might ask, "Can't we use an electric car anywhere, at any time?" Yes and no. To put it simply, some electric cars are called neighborhood electric vehicles. They are four-wheel vehicles that have a maximum speed somewhere around 25 miles per hour. In many places a car that travels on the open road or public highway must be able to reach a minimum speed much higher than that.
GEM electric cars fit this category. These are neighborhood electric vehicles powered by batteries that are restricted to roads with a maximum speed of 35 miles per hour. People who live in populated urban settings might find GEM vehicles just what they need for local transportation. Some people who live on a college campus or in golf-cart community might find them suitable as well.
Special Use Vehicles
GEM officially started as Chrysler Group Global Electric Motorcars LLC in 1998. With a base of operations in Fargo, North Dakota, GEM produced a two-passenger car with a 48-volt power source and a top speed of 20 miles per hour. These cars must have seat belts, suitable headlights, safety glass and windshield wipers in order to be driven on public roads.
GEM has set its mission
"to establish its brand presence both as the maker of the top-selling NEV in the market and the purveyor of one of the smartest solutions to traffic congestion and air quality problems yet to be introduced".
With emphasis on versatility and enjoyment, GEM executives believe they have created a "new kind of personal transportation."
Variety is the Spice of Electric Vehicles
After the company was founded in December 1997, the company offered a two-passenger, "long back" called the GEM eL. A month later the company offered the short-back version or the eS. A four-passenger version rolled out in December 1998 - the GEM e4.
After the company was acquired by Daimler Chrysler in 2000 a new production line began operation. In 2005 the company had approximately 150 dealerships nationwide. The six-passenger GEM e6 came out in 2006 and was soon followed by the "extra-duty", long-back utility vehicle, the GEM eL XD.
GEM electric cars have a varying range of travel, depending on use and conditions. But the company advertises 30 mile per charge as a "typical" range. The two newest vehicles, the e6 with "S" Package and the eL XD have a typical driving range of up to 40 miles per charge.
The company emphasizes that its vehicles are intended to be used on public roads designed for 35 miles per hour or less. It is important for a prospective buyer to know if their state has approved the use of Neighborhood Electric Vehicles. GEM suggests using one of its vehicles for commuting short distances to work in an urban area, taking children to school or other activities and for going to the grocery store or other local stores.
GEM electric cars and similar vehicles from other manufacturers are attracting attention from:
- campus security personnel
- large businesses
- and from hospital and shopping complexes.
Some people have found them to be suitable for indoor use when the area they have to travel is large but under roof.
One factor must be at the top of the priority list when you consider a neighborhood electric vehicle as opposed to a road-worth electric car - safety standards. The construction and safety features are significantly different. Shortly after this model was introduced the federal agency which oversees transportation officially designated some cars as Neighborhood Electric Vehicles.
Getting a GEM
These cars are available at some Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealers, as well as at locations specified as GEM dealerships.
Prices vary depending on model but the starting price for the two-passenger GEM e2 is $7,395. Customers are urged to check for current federal and state government incentives for purchasing an electric vehicle. Significant electric car tax credits may be offered.
Specifications on the GEM include a 72-volt battery system, custom controller and driver motor. Five of the models use six 12-volt batteries while the GEM e6 use nine 8-volt "maintenance free" gel batteries. Batteries can be charged with a built-in charger that is connected to a standard 110-volt outlet.
Charge time for several of the vehicles is "eight to twelve hours". The larger vehicles take "ten to fourteen hours to recharge from a completely discharged state", according to information from GEM. There is no solar-charge option at this time, the company states.
Available colors are
- and black.
There are some equipment options available, according to company information. Top price is in the area of $11,500.