Polaris Industries is not a car manufacturer, yet its business is very close. They’re making ATVs, snowmobiles, motorcycles (they’ve just bought the famous Indian brand, the oldest American manufacturer) and neighborhood electric vehicles (NEV), like Global Electric Motorcars (GEM), the segment leader.
From Polaris or GEM, NEVs are not exciting pieces of machinery. These are low-speed vehicles, yet they’re reliable and very effective as working tools. You see them in parks, college campus or closed gate communities, everywhere in the world. I’ve seen many in old Italian cities where normal cars are forbidden. GEM sells about 200/250 a month, it has done so for more than 10 years. And the business prospects look good when you talk with urban planners. We shall see more and more of those soft vehicles, low speed, noise free and emission free, at least in Europe. Cities, or parts of cities, could be built around them.
Based in North Dakota, GEM was bought by DaimlerChrysler about 10 years ago, it remained with Chrysler when the Germans divorced, and today under Italian hands, the Chrysler-Fiat group is selling GEM to Polaris Industries. This looks very promising to me because the GEM vehicles are the best in the business, yet they lack the sparkle that could make them attractive to a much wider bunch of customers. I mean private customers, today most people buying NEVs are professionals. Polaris has been quite innovative with its ATVs, if it could bring some sex-appeal to these GEM NEVs, I bet sales would increase dramatically.