New to gem and have som questions


I have a very specific application for an NEV and have been looking at GEM options. This is to be used on a Caribbean island and as such there are several factors to be considered. The vehicle is to be used for daily commute - round trip of about 15 miles. Power is available at both ends- but is expensive $.50 to $.60 per KWH (compared to about $7/gal for gas). Terrain is relatively flat- there are a couple of sections that require a 15to 20% hill climb at each end of the 7 mile transit- length of the hill is about 200 feet-directly on rock or concrete so traction should not be an issue(i hope). roads are 50% paved and 50% rough unpaved and sometimes pot holed. It is very dry but periodically there is heavy rain (maybe once a month) where some of the streets accumulate water up to 12 inches deep. Maximum road speed legal limit is 40 MPH. NEV’s are legal (ie even electric golf cars are legal)

It is a small island ,never more than .5 miles from the ocean so salt air induced corrosion is an issue , particularly with steel body cars. Temperature is always 75 to 98F night-day, humidity is typically 80%.

So those are the basic environmental factors. What is attractive with the GEM is the aluminum body and fuel costs savings that could theoretically be achieved.

Next is the repair and maintenance issue. Anything complicated is a problem - regular cars/trucks are not serviced to the same standards as we find here, ie. minimally trained mechanics. Excellent at taking things apart, not so good at putting them back together. This is a where an electric that is relatively simple is the most attractive. I’ve also looked at aluminum frame UTV’s with small diesel engines but the electric is still more simple.

I have been looking at the elXD model, mainly because it is able to handle heavy loads, which is sometimes useful in the intended application, plus is looks feasible to to setup troop carrier style bench seats along with a ladder rack and sides in cases where “work crew” transport is needed.

The operator can be trained to do basic maintenance and repairs, the intent is to maintain a set of critical spares so that quick turn around repairs can be done if needed. It is also possible to carry a 2kW genset or backup batteries for emergency situations where utility power is not available for part of the transit.

The issues I see are battery life for the transit, speed on the 40 MPH section, rough road portions and possibly the water splash issue.

In any case, does anyone have any comments on the suitability for this environment and application?


hi david welcome… I’m in Colorado so the ocean is not close… I have an eS (truckette) have put a large motor in it and can travel at 60mph… but the ‘golf cart’ like suspension makes that speed restricted to only freshly paved roads and more to see what the car would do… hair raising to say the least… there are some posts on changing the shocks… traveling 15 miles should be no problem… I have a regular car/truck garage mechanic who has taken on any problem I have with my car…I like the idea of the elXD if you can find one that is used it should have the 7.5hp motor with a 14 or 15 inch tire should get you close to 30mph… fast enough… they were first produced in 2009 and there is one on… you can get a parts book on line from Gem Car Parts Direct | The Nations #1 Source for Gem Car Parts … they are located in FL and have a toll free number… Lee in parts knows GEM cars backwards and forwards…

hope this helps


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Thanks for the summary.
Driving on/near the beach will not occur, plus there is a backup vehicle that can be used in emergency (hopefully it will last longer between repairs with minimal use).

A few more questions,

with the higher speeds (in this case about 8 miles daily), how much faster is the battery consumed?

Has there been any issue with the electronics in the salt air environment?

Any suggestions as to what parts to keep as spares?- shipping in spare parts is very expensive, so better to ship them with the car.

Tires seem to get consumed at a fast rate due to the combination of heat/dry rot and rough sections of road, do any the the GEM’s use standard tires and rims?

How long do the batteries seem to last before replacement is required (assuming proper maintenance)

Any idea what the design life of the GEM is in terms of miles?


I’d suspect your biggest maintenance cost will be batteries and tires.

As you probably know a GEM doesn’t use “auto batteries” but rather “deep cycle” batteries (GEL or flooded lead acid [fla]). Don’t know where you’d source them but I imagine you’ll be replacing them every 3 to 5 years depending on your usage & maintenance and battery type (GEL or fla). Here in the states I just purchased a set of six Trojan 30XSH fla batteries for $190/each from a wholesale dealer who had them shipped in from a Trojan warehouse about an hour away. Incidentally replacement battery cost is probably the biggest overlooked item of owning a GEM.

Tires might also be an issue if you chew them up since they’re not a generally stocked size tire. Don’t know what stock GEM tires/rims has since mine are custom rims/tires. Bob Peloquin noted in [I]“Lift Kits, Bigger Rims/Tires, Bolt Pattern”[/I] that he bought used Honda Civic rims and tires from a salvage yard for $250 and with the use of a spacer, they worked fine on his GEM if that’s any help.

Finally I’ll suggest you’ll need to become your own GEM mechanic. Don’t know what kind of support you’ll find in the Carib but it quickly became apparent that where I live in a cold weather state, even the local GEM dealer was a tad iffy and I’d better learn to wrench/diagnose my own problems.

Sounds like you’re doing your due diligence on this. Good luck!

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my 2-cents… the wheel bolt pattern is a 4x4mm the same as most Hondas… I went to a 185/63 R14 which gave me a tire that is 23.5 inches… I also tried AGM batteries in my 2005 and could not change the algorithm to match the DeltaQ charger… my stock batteries were Deka’s and I went back to them… they are probably a little more money… I believe at 25-27mph you can get 25-30 miles to a charge… I believe the XD comes with 9-8volts not the 6-12 that we all have… I don’t know that anyone here has an XD car… you might join the NEV group on yahoo… Yahoo! Groups


Thanks for the responses so far.
I’m getting closer to a decision as to which way to go, but i need a clear understanding of what changes have occurred over the year. I know about the brakes and suspension changes but what is not so clear are the charger, motor and controller changes that have been made and when. I have conflicting information about these subsystems as well as their ability to deal with different battery types and capacities (charger). I am sure this must be a common question - can someone point me to a summary of these types of things. Also interested as to when the gear ratios where changed on the elxd version- there are at least 2 different rations from what I have read.

Any assistance is appreciated.


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The elxd forum seemed to be pretty dead so I figured this one would get some general responses.

RE the militry vehicle option. I collect them so that was my first though a while ago. The problem is that all but the humvee are steel body. I had considered the Humvee as an option but the ones I have show that they are difficult to work on and everything but the body rusts and siezes up - brakes, transmission shifter, h as do some of the parts on the drive trains (gear hub covers especially) etc. the bodies also corrode via electrolysis if not properly assembled (a common occurrence on “fixed up” humvees.) There are also things like the “mule” (very slow and no body), haflinger ( nice but all steel) and pinzgauer (nice also but all steel) but again they will be rusted out within a couple of years being parked near the beach in the constant heat and humidity. (I have these vehicles and once they start to rust, it is a very rapid progression. Also looked at the mighty mite- an aluminum body jeep - hard to find parts and frame is steel.

The NEV seems to be a good solution, given the cost of fuel is 10 times the electricity cost fro the same distance, the mostly aluminum and plastic body, but most importantly the simplicity. If something rusts out (front end- back end), it is a simple matter to weld a new piece of tube in place.

My big concerns have been electrical corrosion and water egress into the motor but that does not seem to be a big problem as best as I can determine. The next issue I am having is to figure out if a 2002 4 man with roof rack and short stake bed or 2007 elxd is the way to go. I would like the option of increasing the speed and with the elxd that appears to depend on the gear ratio that the unit is equipped with (a nov 2006 production date).

I’ll also copy the previous post over to elxd forum also.

My comments regarding charging and KW/h cost. I put a “Kill a Watt” meter on my eL for several days my KW/h for a 8-10 hour charge day was between 1.5 and 2 KW/h. Now this is with 6 new Trojan T1275 batteries, depending on the condition and type of batteries, your charge rate may differ. At your rate of .50/.60 I can’t imagine it would cost you more that a couple of bucks a day if that.

Here’s a link to Kill a Watt P3.P3 - Kill A Watt


how depleted were the batteries?
I calculated a 10:1 ratio in gas to electricity- works out to about $2/day