More than 10,000 citizens in California areusing DaimlerChrysler Corporation's Global Electric Motorcars (GEM)neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) for short-distance commutes, in and around gated communities, and on local streets in urbansettings, according to a recent study on travel behavior.The study found that owners are using GEMs instead of their conventionalcars and light trucks for short commutes, which generate the highestvehicle emissions due to cold operations.According to the company, approximately 18,000 GEMs have been in service throughout the United Statessince 1998 in such places as gated communities, military bases, collegecampuses and in numerous communities through municipalities. Given achoice of travel modes for short trips, participants chose a neighborhoodelectric vehicle 85 percent of the time, according to the study.Twenty-eight families who live in Otay Ranch's village of Heritage, amaster plan community near San Diego, participated in the 60-day study,which was sponsored by the City of Chula Vista and the Otay Ranch Companyin coordination with GEM and two non-profit organizations, Mobility Lab ofBoulder, Colo.; and Green Car Institute of San Luis Obispo, Calif.The study was conducted to determine how residents of master-plannedcommunities travel within their neighborhoods, and how zero-emission NEVscould replace automobiles on most short trips."We're very interested in these study results," said Rick Kasper, presidentof GEM. "They document what we've seen in the marketplace: that the NEV isa true transportation alternative, not just a novelty."Kasper says the study results are important because they quantify the valueof the GEM as a viable transportation and land use option that can helpshape the way cities and communities can grow by increasing individualmobility while decreasing traffic congestion and air pollution."The GEM vehicle can and does represent a practical travel option," Kasperadds, "particularly when people take short trips of necessity, such asgoing to the store, picking up or dropping off kids at school, and going towork. This study adds concrete science that proves what we've seen foryears: the value of a GEM is real, and people really depend on them."The Otay Ranch study shows that of the trips taken in NEVs, nearly halfwere for purposes defined as "business" or "delivery," meaning trips ofnecessity. Approximately 35 percent of the short-distance trips taken wereclassified as "leisure," while the remaining trips were designated"other.""What this shows us is that half the trips taken in a GEM were necessarytrips formerly taken in the family car," says Kasper. "The other part ofthe equation is that 38 percent of GEM trips were 'leisure' trips, meaninga whole lot of trips were taken just for fun. And anyone who has driven aGEM knows how fun driving this electric vehicle can be."Of the 28 families who participated in the test program, more than halfplan to buy and regularly drive their test vehicles, a move Kasper saidwill further raise awareness of the GEM's fun and functionality among the7,000 households currently at Otay Ranch.About Global Electric Motorcars
Global Electric Motorcars, the largest U.S. producer of street-legalelectric vehicles, has been manufacturing the GEM neighborhood electricvehicle since 1998. The GEM is designed for downtown driving,college campuses, office campuses, planned communities, industrial parks,military installations, resorts, and similar localized uses. A GEM is charged by plugging into astandard 110-volt household outlet. GEM complies with all applicablefederal safety laws and is approved for use on roads with speeds of 35-mphor less in nearly 30 states.Global Electric Motorcars, based in Fargo, N.D., has experienceworking with planned communities, universities, military bases, resorts,and small and large urban settings throughout the United States. GEMvehicles have become a key mode of transportation in numerous locationsaround the nation, including DC Ranch in Scottsdale, Ariz.; Celebration inFlorida; Bay Harbor in Michigan; and the Playa Vista planned community inWest Los Angeles.