Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Chrysler Goes Electric and It's a Gem

Clean and green gets a new meaning with this great drive from Chrysler, through its GEM division.

GEM electric carts are popular transportation on golf courses and sprawling resorts where guests and their luggage need to be shuttled to far-flung villas, and for shuttling employees and supplies on college and corporate campuses. In the the famous Alpine village of Zermatt, Switzerland, where vehicles are not permitted, call a taxi and what you get is an electric cart.

But those don't look like the new Peapod design -- shown here -- that will be produced starting in 2009. GEM is headquartered in Fargo, N.D. It was founded ten years ago.

This is a pure electric vehicle -- just plug it, charge it up, and go. No gas, no emissions, no fuss.

Designs like this used to be called NEV -- for Neighborhood Electric Vehicle, and the neighborhoods included planned communities like retirement communities where people drive them to visit neighbors and get to the supermarket. But Chrysler is re-designing the NEV tag, too. The new name is 'GreenEcoMobility' - how clever for Chrysler to use the GEM acronym for the new generation of an existing concept -- the electric golf cart.

Yes, it is sleek and streamlined. Reminds you of the Smart fortwo, doesn't it. Maybe the success of that energy efficient little gem -- marketed by a division of Chrysler's former corporate mate, Daimler-Benz -- inspired and encouraged the 'divorced' Chrysler.

And just as Smart fortwo is now available in a four-passenger version, there are plans for larger Peapod models as GEM expands its 'no-gas, no-emissions' clean vehicle lineup. Regular GEMs are available in two-, four- and six-passenger models, as well as a utility vehicle. They have a top speed of 25 miler per hour and a range of 30 miles per charge -- more than enough to get you to and from the supermarket and the commuter rail station, although they are not street-legal everywhere because of their limited speed. Stay off the Interstate! And they can be recharged overnight in any standard 110-volt outlet.

Unlike ordinary golf carts, the new GEM Peapod has a trend-setting center console that will offer iPod integration and hands-free iPhone use.

GEM vehicles have been driven a combined 200 million miles and prevented more than 150 tons of pollutants from reaching the air, while saving 10 million gallons of gasoline.

Sweet Peapod!

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