Global Electric Motorcars (GEM), a longtime subsidiary of Chrysler and makers of ovoid neighborhood electric vehicles, is no longer part of the Fiat-Chrysler global empire.
Chrysler announced it has reached a deal with Polaris Industries, Inc., a renowned manufacturer of recreational vehicles like snowmobiles and ATVs, to purchase GEM. Neither company has released details on how the sale will affect GEM's operations in Fargo, North Dakota, or its network of more than 100 dealers worldwide.
GEM itself has been in operation since 1998, when the firm acquired the designs and assets of Trans2, a small Michigan company that specialized in building golf carts/ NEVs. Two years after relocating production to North Dakota, Chrysler acquired GEM, reportedly as a move to bolster the company's development of zero emissions vehicles. GEM, on the other hand, benefited from Chrysler’s marketing expertise, dealer network (many Chrysler dealers also sell and service GEM vehicles), and experience in implementing an efficient, automated assembly line. In 2008, Chrysler unveiled the Peapod concept, which was a major departure from GEM’s original design language and overall brand image. The more efficient Peapod sported a sleek design and a user-friendly interior intended to appeal to a wider range of eco-conscious customers, but was shelved during Chrysler's bankruptcy proceedings.
The government classifies GEM's current offerings as NEVs, and can be driven on roads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less. NEVs must also come equipped with a long list of safety equipment such as seat belts, headlamps, turn signals, and a horn. Presently, the lineup consists of five models, including the e2, e4, and e6 passenger models, along with the eS and eL cargo haulers. Each is equipped with 6-8 12-volt batteries.
GEM currently offers five Low-Speed Vehicle (LSV) models. The e2, e4 and e6 sit 2,4 and 6 passengers respectively and range from $7,500 to $13,200. The eS and the eL are heavy duty vehicles that seat two passengers with a cargo bed in the back. Models are equipped with 6 to 8 12-volt flooded electrolyte batteries, have a top speed of 25 mph, and a range that spans between 30-40 miles. They all plug in to a standard household 110-volt outlet for charging, which takes roughly 6-8 hours.
We imagine the advancements in battery technology in recent years has largely rendered GEM redundant to Chrysler. Expect the automaker to instead focus its EV efforts on developing highway-legal EVs, such as the Fiat 500 EV.