More than 10,000 citizens in California are using 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 urban settings, according to a recent study on travel behavior. The study found that owners are using GEMs instead of their conventional cars and light trucks for short commutes, which generate the highest vehicle emissions due to cold operations. According to the company, approximately 18,000 GEMs have been in service throughout the United States since 1998 in such places as gated communities, military bases, college campuses and in numerous communities through municipalities. Given a choice of travel modes for short trips, participants chose a neighborhood electric vehicle 85 percent of the time, according to the study. Twenty-eight families who live in Otay Ranch's village of Heritage, a master plan community near San Diego, participated in the 60-day study, which was sponsored by the City of Chula Vista and the Otay Ranch Company in coordination with GEM and two non-profit organizations, Mobility Lab of Boulder, Colo.; and Green Car Institute of San Luis Obispo, Calif. The study was conducted to determine how residents of master-planned communities travel within their neighborhoods, and how zero-emission NEVs could replace automobiles on most short trips. "We're very interested in these study results," said Rick Kasper, president of GEM. "They document what we've seen in the marketplace: that the NEV is a true transportation alternative, not just a novelty." Kasper says the study results are important because they quantify the value of the GEM as a viable transportation and land use option that can help shape the way cities and communities can grow by increasing individual mobility while decreasing traffic congestion and air pollution. "The GEM vehicle can and does represent a practical travel option," Kasper adds, "particularly when people take short trips of necessity, such as going to the store, picking up or dropping off kids at school, and going to work. This study adds concrete science that proves what we've seen for years: 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 half were for purposes defined as "business" or "delivery," meaning trips of necessity. Approximately 35 percent of the short-distance trips taken were classified as "leisure," while the remaining trips were designated "other." "What this shows us is that half the trips taken in a GEM were necessary trips formerly taken in the family car," says Kasper. "The other part of the equation is that 38 percent of GEM trips were 'leisure' trips, meaning a whole lot of trips were taken just for fun. And anyone who has driven a GEM knows how fun driving this electric vehicle can be." Of the 28 families who participated in the test program, more than half plan to buy and regularly drive their test vehicles, a move Kasper said will further raise awareness of the GEM's fun and functionality among the 7,000 households currently at Otay Ranch. About Global Electric Motorcars
Global Electric Motorcars, the largest U.S. producer of street-legal electric vehicles, has been manufacturing the GEM neighborhood electric vehicle 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 a standard 110-volt household outlet. GEM complies with all applicable federal safety laws and is approved for use on roads with speeds of 35-mph or less in nearly 30 states. Global Electric Motorcars, based in Fargo, N.D., has experience working with planned communities, universities, military bases, resorts, and small and large urban settings throughout the United States. GEM vehicles have become a key mode of transportation in numerous locations around the nation, including DC Ranch in Scottsdale, Ariz.; Celebration in Florida; Bay Harbor in Michigan; and the Playa Vista planned community in West Los Angeles.