Polaris Acquires Global Electric Motorcars

April 25, 2011
Bart Madson
By Bart Madson
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Bashing away at the MotoUSA keyboard for nine years now, Madson lends his scribbling and editorial input on everything from bike reviews to industry analysis and motorcycle racing reports.

Polaris Industries has snapped up another brand, announcing an agreement to purchase Global Electric Motocars from Chrysler. Fresh off the heels of its acquisition of the Indian Motorcycles brand, Polaris will take over a company a little bit closer to home, with GEM based out of Fargo, North Dakota.
GEM e2
Polaris Industries will snatch up Global Electric Motorcars and its low-speed EV models from Chrysler.

“GEM provides Polaris with an established position in the low-emission small vehicle market and supports Polaris’ strategy of penetrating on-road market segments poised for growth,” said Polaris CEO, Scott Wine, in a press statement announcing the acquisition. “We are excited about the outlook for growth within this market space, and are looking forward to developing even stronger growth prospects for the GEM business.”

A manufacturer of low-speed electric vehicles since its 1997 founding, GEM currently produces six EV models. Street legal in many locales on public roads posted at 35 mph or less, GEM vehicles claim a 25 mph top speed and ranges of up to 30 miles. Chrysler acquired the North Dakota start-up in June 2000, with more than 45,000 GEM vehicles having been produced in total.

A Polaris press release states the GEM purchase “will officially close within the next 60 days.” Polaris is still securing state sales certificates and in the interim operations will proceed as usual in the GEM plant. Polaris promises more specific plans for its new acquisition once the deal is made official. While the move dramatically increases Polaris’ electric offerings, the company is no stranger to the electric vehicle market, having manufactured an electric-powered version of its popular Ranger UTV.

“Our vision is to accelerate profitable sales growth for GEM, by combining Polaris’ strength in new product innovation with the most-recognized brand in the low speed vehicle market space,” said Mike Jonikas, Vice President of the On-Road Vehicle Division. “These new product efforts for GEM will be supported by an expanded distribution presence within select domestic and international markets.”

Polaris has made many headlines in recent weeks. First was the acquisition of a historic brand name in Indian Motorcycles on April 19. The company followed that with news of record-breaking first quarter earnings, up 49% from Q1 in 2010. The company also announced that due to the positive numbers it would retain some engine manufacturing in is Osceola, Wisconsin plant – having announced last year that production would be relocated. The positive news carries over from a banner 2010. Despite the dire economic woes of most OEMs, Polaris enjoyed unprecedented sales growth in ’10. Spearheaded by sales of its popular UTV models, Polaris recorded nearly two billion in sales for 2010.

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