DaimlerChrysler and the City of New York have marked their collaboration on an electric vehicle program that they say is a model for reducing the environmental impact of the automobile in urban areas. In a ceremony at City Hall, City officials gathered with representatives of DaimlerChrysler to officially accept the keys to zero-emission, all-electric GEM vehicles. DaimlerChrysler has donated 352 GEMs to the City for use in departments around the five boroughs. The vehicles are being provided to the New York City Parks and Recreation Department and will be put to use in City parks and facilities to provide clean, convenient, low-cost transportation for city projects. “We are pleased to be a partner with the City of New York to get zero emission GEMs in use around the city,” said Larry Oswald, CEO of Global Electric MotorCars, the division of DaimlerChrysler that produces GEMs. “Everyone benefits when GEMs are used,” Oswald said. “Residents get cleaner air; city employees have safe, clean, quiet and convenient transportation; and more people -- including potential buyers -- are exposed to the unique design and capabilities of these all-electric vehicles.” By the end of 2003, more than 28,000 GEMs will be in use, making it the leading street-legal electric vehicle in the United States, according to DaimlerChrysler. DaimlerChrysler previously donated 30 GEMs to the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), which will distribute the vehicles among 22 municipalities on Long Island. "GEMS are a critical component of efforts to reduce emissions from automobiles, especially in highly-populated areas,” Oswald said. “GEMs replace conventional vehicles for the most polluting trips -- short trips in a cold-start vehicle, when more than 90 percent of the pollution is emitted. There are more than half a million trips like that in the U.S. every day, and with GEMs, those trips produce zero emissions.” GEMs are categorized as neighborhood electric vehicles and are limited to a top speed of 25 mph and use on roads posted at 35 mph or less. GEMS are in use in locations such as planned communities, industrial and commercial developments, city, state and national parks, college campuses and military facilities. GEMs are sold through selected Chrysler dealers and are available in four models: two-passenger, four-passenger, two-passenger short back and two-passenger long back. DaimlerChrysler says that GEMs are easy to use and maintain. The vehicles have a range of about 30 miles and can be recharged overnight using a conventional household outlet. In addition to meeting all Federal safety standards for low-speed vehicles, GEMs can be equipped with hard or soft doors, heaters and defrosters, chrome and customized wheels, and individualized colors. GEM electric vehicles are part of DaimlerChrysler portfolio of clean vehicles that also includes hybrid electric vehicles and diesel-powered passenger vehicles to be marketed in 2004, and more than one million flexible fuel vehicles capable of running on renewable ethanol-based fuel already on the road. Through its Orion Bus Industries division, DaimlerChrysler is providing more than 550 diesel electric and compressed natural gas buses to New York City. Those buses reduce emissions up to 90 percent and improve fuel economy by 50 percent or more compared with conventional buses. DaimlerChrysler will begin marketing Dodge Stratus and Chrysler Sebring sedans that meet New York's tough PZEV emissions standards later this year. These vehicles are among the cleanest internal combustion vehicles in the world. Looking to the future, DaimlerChrysler said it will have road-test experience with more than 100 fuel cell vehicles by the end of 2004, including passenger cars, vans and buses.