For GreenFamilyCar.com by Alan Gell, automotive journalist for http://www.CarColumns.net
This column is about a very unusual car. It is called the GEM, which stands for Global Electric Motorcars. This company was actually founded in Michigan back in 1992. The guys were former engineers with General Motors, but sold the company, which now is part of Chrysler.
My wife Judy and I have both driven the GEM and it handles well and is fun to drive.
GEM made its first vehicle in 1998 which was an all-electric, 48 volt, two passenger model that could go almost 20 mph. It is almost like an enclosed golf cart. In that same year – 1998 – the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration designated a new classification of motor vehicles called the NEV – Neighborhood Electric Vehicles. These are low-speed cars generally driven at resorts, malls, large building complexes, colleges, shuttle services, and similar places. However, they are allowed to be driven on public roads IF they meet certain safety standards.
These safety standards include having three point safety belts, headlights, windshield wipers, and safety windshield glass. Since most golf carts do not include all of these, they are not considered street legal, but GEM cars come equipped with all of this. The down side – is that the term “street legal” only applies to public roads posted at a speed of 35 mph or less.
GEM cars today usually achieve a speed of 25 mph and have a range of about 30 miles on a single charge. Like a golf cart, they plug into a standard 110 electric outlet and take about six hours to fully recharge. The GEM cars are 100% electric and have zero (0) tailpipe emissions.
GEM cars come in six different models, ranging from a small two seater to a larger pickup-style version. They are very capable with payloads ranging upwards to 1500 pounds. There are a lot of options and accessories available as well.
The good news is that they are very economical to operate. It costs approximately two cents a mile based on current electrical costs. The base model begins at just $8392 and the higher end models are slightly higher than $10,000.
I have taken several test drives in GEM cars and I like them. They are not designed for long trips and over-the-road driving. But for short-distance transportation over low-speed roads, they are great. They are capable and convenient and ideal for many everyday situations.
Check out the GEM cars yourself by contacting a Chrysler dealership or checking on the internet at http://www.GEMCAR.com.
Editor’s note: For a look at how NEVs like the GEM cars, as well as other vehicles rated MSEVs (Medium Speed Electric Vehicles), could potentially travel from coast-to-coast see GreenInterstate.com.