GEM is a company that specializes in small, low-speed "neighborhood electric vehicles". Some years ago it was bought by Polaris, a small vehicle producing company, that is now updating its little fleet.

Personal transportation, shuttle, hauling, patrol, housekeeping? Instead of buying a small, old truck or a van, why not consider the all-electric alternative? GEM vehicles are indeed smaller and slower, yet they are spacious enough, oozing comfort and ideal for driving around your neighborhood. Don't even dream of highways, though, because they reach their top speed at 40 km/h, just enough to make them legal on most non-speeding roads.

They come in 6 low-cost, low-maintenance variants, including the e2, e4, and e6 passenger models with seating for two, four, and six, respectively. Depending on one's needs, buyers can also opt for an eL XD variant (with a flatbed) or the eM 1400 and eM 1400 LSV models, suitable for hauling or specialized utility.

Their electric motors vary in output from 5.0 to 6.5 kilowatts (6.7 to 8.7 horsepower), depending on the model. The batteries are charged with an onboard charger that plugs into a standard 110-volt outlet. It takes approximately six to eight hours to recharge a GEM® car from a completely discharged state. But if you choose an optional fast charge package, these cars can be optimally charged in less than one hour. Their range is about 60 miles on a single full charge, but it may vary, depending on terrain, driving conditions, battery age, etc.

The 2016 updates include a more spacious cab design without creating a larger footprint, improved vehicle ergonomic design, improved range and range options including lithium ion, more customizable options, and new integrated hard doors, but also available is the RiderX application that downloads maps of local roads for diagnostics.

You might ask yourself – are these vehicles safe? Each of the six models has been equipped with automotive safety windshield glass, three-point safety belts, turn signals, headlamps and brake lights, horn, mirrors and windshield wipers, so there's plenty to keep you safe on the road.

If you like the pace of a golf cart and require something similar to drive around your area, this might be it. 

Nov. 7, 2015 Driving photo: GEM electric vehicles

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