Chrysler Unplugged: Zero Emissions Venture GEM Sold

While many automakers have dedicated their modern operations to creating buzz-worthy technologies, electric or electric assist vehicles are paraded as the new faces of the car industry. Since emerging out of bankruptcy, Chrysler Group’s few years have been spent refining the back to basics of today’s motoring. Building a group of stylistically refreshed vehicles and a competitive engine with their Pentastar V-6, Chrysler stride back to profitably might cost the American automaker a power play in zero emissions vehicle development. On May 1st, Chrysler’s goal is finally being realized as the automaker recorded 116 million dollars in profit; their first gain since the 2009 bankruptcy recovery.

Recent signs have reflected a course steering away from electric vehicle solutions. One of the automakers who engaged in the creation of the two-mode hybrid transmission, Chrysler has discontinued their use of the electric-assist solution through the ceased production of the Chrysler Aspen sport utility vehicle after 2009. Plans were also cancelled on the hybrid-version of the current generation Ram pickup. Announced on the 26th of April, Chrysler took another troubling step for eco-friendly Mopar fans by offloading their zero emission vehicle subsidiary GEM (Global Electric Motorcars).

Polaris Industries, a lead recreational and utility product builder of snowmobiles as well as ATVs, has entered into an agreement with Chrysler Group to take over GEM by the end of June. No financial terms of the deal have been announced by either Chrysler, Polaris or Global Electric Motorcars. Created in 1998, GEM has built over 45,000 examples sold under the NHTSA classification as low-speed vehicles. Street legal vehicles traveling at maximum speeds up to 25 miles per hour, the GEM product line-up spans from a pickup-like utility model to a 6-passenger commuter. While their cars appear like glorified golf carts, seat belts, headlights and windshield wipers are built into GEM vehicles allowing travel on most roads with a posted speed limit under 35 miles per hour.

Limited not only in velocity, these vehicles obtain only about 30 miles on a single battery charge. A difficult vehicle to accommodate to modern American driving habits relegates the GEM name to well within city centers or campus-like environments. A shining moment for the GEM brand was the deployment of 30 vehicles at the St Petersburg, Russia G8 world conference in 2006. It is unclear what steps Polaris will take once purchasing Global Electric Motorcars. Presently, Polaris already produces a neighbourhood vehicle called the Breeze.

Relieving themselves of the GEM company they created 13 years ago, Chrysler’s has indicated they will direct attention to their “core automobile business”. Of course, GEM has never been a core brand to the Mopar image (Chrysler fans could even be forgiven if they have never heard of the car brand); the departure from the electric vehicle company does leave questions on Chrysler’s intentions for alternative powertrain usage.

Though Chrysler has no 2011 model year electric or even hybrid gas/electric cars, the American automaker is not completely abandoning the pursuit of zero emission vehicles. For summer of this year, the Ram truck brand will offer a plug-in hybrid version of the full-sized pickup for fleet customers. Chrysler’s partnership with Fiat is also expected to bring a new crop of electric powered vehicles to the United States including a zero emissions version of the Fiat 500 for 2012. The prospect of a new Fiat-based commercial van being introduced to the Chrysler’s North American Ram line-up could also bred another electric powertrain choice for businesses. Regrettably, though, the consumer offerings for alternative propulsion will be very scarce from Chrysler.

Information source: Chrysler Group, Global Electric Motorcars
Photo source: Chrysler Group

Chris Nagy

Chris Nagy

Automotive Editor
Admiring automobiles ever since childhood viewership of the TV show Knight Rider, Chris Nagy grew as an enthusiast enroute to become an automotive and motorsport writer. Drawn to the rich world of motoring, Chris discovers charm everywhere in the industry from supercars like the Bugatti Veyron to a Kia Soul. Car design, engineering, performance and the passion itself fuels his daily existence.
Chris Nagy

@ChrisnagyCarGuy

Mech Eng. Grad, Automotive & Motorsport Journalist with a wide range of intrigue. An Unsuccessful Quitter Who Continues to Try.
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Filed Under: Car NewsChryslerElectric


  • Cheryl Conners

    Did you wonder if there was an effort out to control the electric car industry. Well, let's name the names:

    The Solyndra case proves that the DOE LOAN and ATVM funding was based on pure bribery and lobby manipulation. All of the failure points on Solyndra have been visible for ages so they would not have gotten the money if "real due diligence" had been performed instead of giving the money away to hard-wired campaign contributors. Kleiner Perkins put Chu in office as Secratary in order to get favored nations funding for their portfolio companies and keep competitors to those portfolio companies from getting funded. Steve Westly and Kholsa helped them along with Raj Gupta.

    The Detroit News writes that Detroit & Telsa recipients used the money to pay bonuses to staff and other uses, have parties and other uses not intended for the funds. How the *H* did a Japanese company get U.S. taxpayer dollars from the DOE?

    The DOE ATVM And Loan Gaurantee programs were conducted by criminals in order to commit crimes. The "Car Czar" Steve Rattner (Now a proven criminal by the State of NY), Lachland Seward, Matt Rogers and his partner Steve Spinner and most of Tesla’s friends at McKinsey Consulting from Silicon Valley (Who used Tax payer jets to fly back and forth to Silicon Valley to go bike riding), Steve Westley and a group who now left DOE, and some who are still there are criminals. They stole your tax money and put in in their friends pockets. Federal investigations have already shown that Detroit embezzeled and misspent the first monies distributed. Every company that has so far gotten money has misspent it, did not have what they said they had at the time they applied, were tied to campaign contributions and rated lowest on the comparison reviews. If you google: "Unprofessional behavior plagues SRS" to read about the death threats, you can see the depths to which some of these people will sink. See the recent mass exodus from DOE of key staff in the last 9 months: They took the money and ran.

    The few applicants that did get money spent tens of millions of dollars on bribes and lobby “incentives” equal in ratio to the money they got. Now the White House says that $17B of the taxpayer money that Detroit got is a write-off and is lost forever. In other words Detroit has already embezzeled more money than all of the other applicants applied for put together.

    Google Tesla’s Siry on “DOE stifles innovation” to read what one of the highest level staff at one of the car companies said.

    The GAO, a federal crime busting agency, just released public reports saying that the DOE Loan programs were corrupt. All of the people under Seward were “connected” or “made men” in the Detroit cadre. Seward changed the section 136 first-come-first serve rule (Which appears to be illegal) in order to provide advantages to his friends in Detroit who didnt bother to apply in time and to cut out the smaller players who were already ahead in the application proces

    Subpeonas of Detroit and DOE Loan Departments will prove crime, corruption, favoritism and rigged contracts were the rule and not the exception. BTW: Revenge of the Electric car is a paid product placement film. It is not a real documentary.