Are neighbourhood electric vehicles a stepping stone towards traditional electric car

More and more people are now looking towards neighbourhood electric vehicles as a means of efficient and swift transportation in their local area. There is a growing feeling that neighbourhood electric vehicles could well be the missing link between traditional vehicles and electric cars, offering an interesting steppingstone. Do you agree with this opinion?

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I don’t believe the NEV is a transition vehicle to an EV… my reasoning is the cost… an NEV (GEM car) is a lot less money than any EV that I’ve seen… unless you find the one that is the deal of the day on eBay… even if you are buying the totally loaded car from the GEM from the dealer… I don’t think you’ll pay more than $16k and you get a good warranty with that… I think most of us own used cars that cost less than half that amount… the NEV fits our driving lifestyle and for the most part we have another car for the longer trips… I get a lot of people who look at my car and ask questions… seem to think it’s a good thing but am not seeing any other NEVs around town… might be the economy or they just can’t make the transition…

car show season is starting for me next week and I’ll be out shouting about my and probably your car as I tell stories of others


My used 2002 GEM shortbed cost me $2500, in near new condition and only 250 miles on odometer. My conversion to a lithium battery pack cost me $5000. $7500 for a EV with a range of 80+ miles is a fantastic bargain. It should be almost everyone’s second vehicle, as long as they have an accessible outlet for charging.

In my case, it’s been my only vehicle for a couple of years now. If I need to make a trip outside of the range of my lithium-powered GEM, I can rent a car for under $11 a day, up to four days out of a week from Budget (Fri-Mon). Credit card benefit takes care of the rental car insurance.

With what I save on car payments, insurance, registration fees, and maintenance costs, it makes no sense to own an ICE vehicle or production EV. With the average American commute being 26 minutes and 16 miles, the GEM seems ideal for the average person as well.

It is serving as a transitional vehicle for me. I bought a Low Speed registered EV in January, hoping to use it to commute 10 miles to my job and back but it has been a complete disaster…it has sparked my interest into getting a more conventional EV, one that will travel highways. I am watching the used market with a bit of trepidation, not sure when I will jump in. I have a 4 X 4 gas guzzler and a Prius right now, planning to sell the gas guzzler once I move forward on an electric…

So, what about your current commute makes your current GEM a disaster?

I got over-excited about buying an inexpensive electric vehicle and it turned out to be a very low quality vehicle (ever heard of the Flybo?). It looks pretty nice and when it works it is fun to drive, but over half the time I get in it and the motor won’t kick in…just sits there as I turn on the key, and put it into forward or reverse. Battery charger indicates it has plenty of charge (discovered it has 9 eight volt batteries. Therefore, I don’t trust it to drive to work using the city streets I envisioned.

It is encouraging you have had a good experience with yours.

Ah, that will do it. The GEMs are the only NEV I would buy, because there are 50K+ on the road, and parts and support are going to be available for a long time.

Maybe look for a used GEM in your area on crag’s list. You can use search tempest to search all the local CL postings within X miles of your zipcode. I ended up driving about 600 miles to pick mine up in Arizona for $2500 for the flatbed model I wanted. I rented a 5x9 utility trailer with ramp from uhaul for $25 and took it all the way to AZ to pick it up and haul the GEM back home. For a 10 mile commute, a (reliable) NEV sould work just fine.

Baring that, look at one of the generous lease deals on a leaf, smart, or Mi-EV.

Thanks for the input Brent; I will check them out.

It’s NOT a substitute for a car. It’s a step up from a golf cart. It’s street legal with restrictions and fast enough for limited travel. More for fun than serious travel. I use mine for around town use. (average 80 miles a month)

hi Charles… I’ve always liked the looks of the flybo but with no dealers guess it’s just a cute car… like Brent I found my truckette in CA for $3000 and with uship I had it delivered in a few days for another $500… have replaced the 5hp motor with a 9.6hp… my range is 25-27 miles… I have a great dealer in FL…I live in Denver … use a garage for service when I need advice or parts the dealer takes good care of me.


I bought a 2002 e2 for $1400 for my son to drive to High School, tennis Practice, movies, dates, to his buddies. All just around town. It has turned out to be an AWESOME experience. We have upgraded the wheels/tires to 14", about to put a BATTSIX in, going to stream Pandora from his android to a hidden bluetooth system.

He gets thumbs up where ever he goes. His plan is to take it with him to college.

Im looking at getting my own for my 10 mile commute to work.

It is NOT a 100% replacement for a traditional auto, but it has been a great addition to our “Family Fleet” :slight_smile: YMMV

Kjackson… you and your son get a BIG thumbs up from me… way to go


Thanks Bob,

And to answer your question, In our case, it has made us aware of something other than an internal combustion engine car that is a viable alternative. My son, who is going to be a Senior in HS, has commented that when he is done in college, 2020 or so :), he wants an all electric vehicle for his daily. Being [B][U]aware[/U][/B] of “viable” alternative is the key. His e2 has shown us that.

Keith (Dad) & Spencer

For neighborhood cars to be a stepping stone they’ve got to be really cheap. For me to buy a neighborhood driver its got to pay for itself in gas savings in 4 years or less with no major repair issues, and still be resalable after that 4 years. I don’t think its practical.

welcome ATL… what is cheap to you… used GEM cars can be as low as $1000 to $8000 and batteries range from $1000 to $2000 about every three years… new Polaris GEMs are pricey in my estimation… they start at $9000 and after you add thinks like a steering wheel they are around $15000… think the Atomic and ecocruise are in the $15 thousand range… they are just starting out so there is no used market…

with cheap gas the NEV/LSV is a hard sell… but if you only drive within a 15 mile circle from home and on surface streets increase the circle if you can charge somewhere… it’s still a deal… I bought my 05 GEM going on 5 years ago for $3000… have added 2 sets of batteries… doors… a larger motor… some other things and might have a little over $8000 invested in it… I’d sell it for the $8 and maybe move on to a four seat but stay with the GEM car for now


the internal combustion VS the electric…


brain fade… I present the electric motor


the internal combustion engine Vs the electric motor

And there are even more advantages than es GEM Colo’s picture. That engine picture does not show smog emission equipment, catalytic converters, exhaust/mufflers, etc. that have a limited life while the motor has one moving part and a couple bearings. Plus, people have discovered other car parts with improved life. For example, a person I know commented how much longer his brake pads last on his EV because some of the slowing is a result of regenerative braking rather than pressing the brake pedal.

Batteries do have a life so I admit there are trade-offs.

EVs don’t work and may be impractical for some. I get it. Some need a vehicle with extended range, live in extreme climates, can’t install a charger at home, need a tow vehicle, etc. They are not the “penicillin” for all driving needs. But some are discovering that at least one vehicle may work for their transportation needs.