Polaris to buy Global Electric Motorcars LLC (GEM) from Chrysler; Chrysler to focus on full-function EVs

The GEM e2 two-passenger vehicle features six 12-volt flooded electrolyte batteries and a range of up to 35 miles on a charge. Click to enlarge.

Polaris Industries Inc. will acquire low-speed electric vehicle manufacturer Global Electric Motorcars LLC (GEM), a wholly-owned Fargo, N.D.-based subsidiary of Chrysler Group LLC. Chrysler Group and Polaris have signed the negotiated Asset Purchase Agreement. Closing is expected in approximately 60 days.

GEM is a recognized leader within the low-speed vehicle market, with approximately $30 million in sales during the 2010 calendar year. Since the company was established in 1998, it has placed more than 45,000 electric-powered vehicles on the road worldwide. GEM has developed business-to-business sales expertise within the fleet and government vehicle markets, and has core competencies in make-to-order vehicle fulfillment and mobile service support.

Chrysler issued a statement saying it has decided to focus its energies on its core automotive business, resulting in the sale of GEM to Polaris. Chrysler noted that GEM has contributed significantly to Chrysler’s ongoing Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) compliance activities in California and the other Mandate States, and that the company will pursue a range of other ZEV options moving forward, focusing on full-function EVs.

GEM cars are used by local, state and national government agencies, resorts, master-planned communities, universities, medical and corporate campuses, as well as by sports teams, taxi-shuttle services and individual consumers.

The six GEM passenger and utility models are legal on most streets with posted speeds of 35 mph or less. GEM cars are eligible for incentives and tax credits from clean-air districts and other governmental agencies. To date, GEM cars have driven more than 450 million emission-free miles.

GEM provides Polaris with an established position in the low-emission small vehicle market and supports Polaris’ strategy of penetrating on-road market segments poised for growth. We are excited about the outlook for growth within this market space, and are looking forward to developing even stronger growth prospects for the GEM business.

—Scott Wine, Polaris chief executive officer

With annual 2010 sales of US$1.991 billion, Polaris designs, engineers, manufactures and markets off-road vehicles (ORVs), including all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and the Polaris RANGER Side X Side vehicles, snowmobiles and Victory motorcycles for recreational and utility use and has recently introduced a new on-road electric powered neighborhood vehicle.

The agreement to acquire GEM will officially close within the next 60 days once Polaris secures the required state sales certifications to sell GEM products. During this interim period, since Polaris will not yet have officially acquired GEM, operations will proceed as usual and Polaris will continue to learn and understand the GEM business through information exchange.

Following this interim period, Polaris will be in a position to outline specific plans for the GEM business.

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