The new GEM eM1400 marks a departure from the traditional GEM models.
GEM has added a totally new member to their product lineup, the GEM eM1400. The all electric utility vehicle is a more heavy duty utility vehicle than the rest of the product line and, significantly, is not an LSV. It has an MSRP of $9,999. I spoke with GEM as well as GEM dealer about the vehicle to get some more information.
In part, the vehicle is a response to demand for an electric utility vehicle that does not have to be used on public roads and therefore does not need to be LSV compliant. This may be up to half of the GEMs sold today. The main differentiating features of the eM1400 are the 1,400 lb payload, 1,250 lb towing capacity, 8.5 inch ground clearance and the fully independent suspension. GEM claims the ride will be significantly better than other UTVs in its class. While not using the same parts as suspensions from the Polaris Ranger line of UTVs it does borrow the “same architecture and design philosophy”.
The main competitors for this vehicle currently in the market are the e-Gator and the electric Toro Workman UTV, the Carryall models from Club Car, electric UTVs from E-Z-GO and Cushman as well as gas powered alternatives. This entry into the market is definitely pushing GEM into more direct competition with these other brands.
While GEM has a strong presence on college campuses for transport and general maintenance, according to the dealer I spoke with, the demand for such a heavy payload in this market segment is limited. Combined with it not being LSV compliant, sales to this segment will probably be lower than other GEM models. On the other hand, I believe it might have more appeal to grounds crews on college campuses where a more rugged and heavy duty UTV is needed. GEM management sees the vehicle as having a much wider appeal than just the university market, basically anywhere a rugged, electric UTV is needed from landscaping to plants to golf courses. The dealer noted that use in industrial settings is most likely where the demand for the payload capacity will be. Users who mount special equipment like compressors or welders will be prospects.
Polaris will start building the GEM eM1400 in early November and they should be in the market by the end of November. The company is already taking orders from dealers. According to management, there may be some GEM dealers, like the legacy Chrysler dealers and those focused on the LSV market that may choose not to carry the new model. At the same time there is also the possibility that some Polaris dealers may have interest in carrying this GEM model. How that is handled by the company will depend on dealer interest.
The dealer I spoke with also remarked that if you add accessories including a cab, which is needed in some areas, the price could easily reach $13,000 which is pretty pricey. He also noted that GEM is known for their LSV compliance, 72 volt system, maintenance-free batteries, aluminum frame and unique styling and the eM1400 has none of those features. It might thus detract from the GEM image or falsely attract prospects who assume it has the normal GEM features. I would say he has point here, the eM1400 is clearly a departure from the traditional GEM product line. On the other hand, this vehicle could move the GEM brand more strongly into additional market segments. If done well the new vehicle could help reposition the brand more broadly as an electric small, task-oriented vehicle brand as opposed to the more limited positioning as an electric LSV brand. This would be relevant for markets outside the US as well.
Lastly, the dealer noted that some of the new GEM dealers come from a powersports background and are not as experienced in selling to commercial or institutional purchasers which usually require more direct outreach from the dealer as opposed to waiting for customers to walk through the door. I think this point is valid and it remains to be seen if newer GEM dealers can adapt their sales approach. The more successful dealers I know in this market are the ones that actively go out and demo vehicles for potential customers. This means having the time, people and equipment to make appointments, haul vehicles around the sales territory and demo the vehicles on site for potential customers.
The press release from GEM follows:
The long-awaited GEM® innovation is finally here! All electric-powered and purpose-built to last, the GEM eM1400 is the ultimate work vehicle. It delivers more power, more payload, and an exceptional ride backed by Polaris’ 60 years of performance and innovation.
Perfect for applications in industrial, commercial, government and education markets, the GEM eM1400 balances performance and versatility to tackle the work your customers need. Classified as a LEV (Low Emission Vehicle), this is the perfect vehicle for hauling cargo across your property or jobsite.
Key features of the GEM eM1400 include:
- 1400 lb payload
- 7 HP AC motor
- 1,250 lb towing capacity
- Range of up to 45 miles, top speed of 19 mph
- Rugged, ergonomic design
- Independent front and rear suspension
- Lock & Ride®, Lock & Work™ configurability options
Learn more: Polaris.com