Buying a Vehicle for Campus Use

The new GEMs for model year 2016.

GEMs are popular for use on campuses for people moving and general utility work applications.

I recently interviewed Andy Kaplan of Dominion Utility Vehicles in Bedford, Virginia about buying a small, task-oriented vehicle for use on a college or university campus. Some common uses for these vehicles include people transport, campus security, general maintenance, grounds keeping and other heavier duty work. He sells the GEM, Polaris Brutus and Gravely Atlas JSV four-wheel drive utility vehicles.

In this and other commercial segments many dealers will bring vehicles to the customer to try out for several hours, a full day or even a few days if their interest is high. If you are in the market for a vehicle, it is wise to do so as it affords you the opportunity to drive and use the vehicle just as if you owned it. The best approach according to Kaplan is to use the vehicle just as you would during a typical work day. You can see how the vehicle handles the terrain, the various tasks, maneuvers in tight spaces and, if exploring electric vehicles, what type of range and charging time you will need on a daily basis.

Another consideration is what are all the tasks for which you will be using the vehicle on campus. If you are hauling material or equipment, how much cargo box and vehicle capacity do you need, how large a cargo box do you need in terms of dimensions and do you need a covered cargo area. If you are carrying tools do you need one or more toolboxes or a ladder rack. One of the advantages of these utility vehicles is that they can be customized to a great degree with many different options and accessories to perform a specific task or set of tasks. By investing the time up front thinking about how you will use the vehicle, you can purchase a vehicle that can be highly versatile, productive and cost-efficient.

Other important considerations include:

  • Campus terrain:  Do you need 4WD for hills, off-road capabilities, turf sensitive tires and handling capabilities, LSV features for public road use, etc.
  • Weather protection:  Do you need protection from the sun or rain, harsh winter weather, allergy issues when mowing, etc
  • People moving:  How much seating capacity do you need? What about creature comforts? If you will be transporting clients or customers, what image and branding reinforcement do you want to convey with the vehicle?

For the complete interview visit our buying guide section.

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