(Polaris) GEM Launches 2016 Line, Brammo Lithium Packs (video)

OCT 29 2015 BY TDILLARD 27

In what’s being described as a “total re-design from the ground up”, Polaris announced the 2016 Polaris GEM line, (interestingly described on the site as an “electric car” without apology) for the first time offering the Brammo lithium battery packs as options.  It’s part of the “SmartPower” system they’re calling the “first ever in the industry”. Here are the specifics:

Polaris GEM battery options matrix

Polaris GEM battery options matrix

Battery options and charging

Battery options and charging

BrammoPower for the Polaris GEM

BrammoPower for the Polaris GEM

Yup.  That’s the BrammoPower nameplate in the lower right corner.  The BrammoPower packs are being offered in the bigger models, such as the “Shuttle” version, but it’s our impression that any orders can be customized to suit the user’s needs.

The GEM Shuttle

The GEM Shuttle

A lot of the control and interface systems resemble the Brammo as well, including the instrument cluster…

GEM instrument cluster

GEM instrument cluster

…as well as smart-phone interfaces and charging features.

Fast charging options

L2 charging options

There’s a lot more to the 2016 model line than simply the Brammo integration, including a lot of features like door and overall handling improvements that GEM fans will no doubt appreciate.  (In fact, the BrammoPower packs are barely mentioned there…)  Here’s the complete video from the launch webinar, where the main message is Polaris’ response to their customer feedback:

This is interesting on several levels.  It would appear that Polaris has decided that this Personal Electric Vehicle, Neighborhood Electric Vehicle, golf cart or-whatever-you-want-to-call-it market is worth bringing into the 21st century with the same level of battery technology as the rest of the road-worthy and street-legal EV market.  …not only that, but overall design and build quality.  GEM has, in the past, been more of a curiosity than a vital product, and (without doing our due diligence in research) if memory serves, has gone through a few fits and starts – Polaris’ purchase being the latest chapter.  What with the growth prior to the 2015 lineup, it seems it’s a market they’re seeing as worth developing.

It also seems interesting that the GEM is the product line they’ve decided to use as the second instance of the BrammoPower technology.  As we all know, Polaris (Victory) bought the Brammo motorcycle business a while back, and Brammo’s been insisting that the BrammoPower business model is alive and well.  Now the GEM line, in addition to the Ranger EV, it would appear, is going to position Polaris as the primary client, and fairly independent of the Victory motorcycle business – yet incorporating much of the intellectual property from the Empulse and other bikes.

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27 Comments on "(Polaris) GEM Launches 2016 Line, Brammo Lithium Packs (video)"

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Nice to see them moving to Li-Ion now. There’s no point in building any vehicles with lead-acid anymore. Li-Ions are cheap enough now, lighter, and have MUCH better longevity.

Optional solar panel . . . nice.


And I like how they advertise it:
– increase time between charges
– extend battery life
– reduce carbon footprint

I wonder about what are the specs of the panel.

Even more I wonder what it would cost Tesla to add a solar panel to a model S roof (model x wont work – falcon wings…) with let’s say 200Wp, how much range that would add per sunny day, and most importantly what would a buyer be willing to pay for this kind of “solar-range-extender” 2000$ ??? I guess some would…

My guess: in the best case / parking orientation on a sunny summer day, you may get the equivalent of 5 hours of ideal sunshine. With a 200W panel, that’s 1kWh, before charging losses. After all the associated losses, you may get 3 miles on your best day.

Let’s assume that Tesla’s battery cost is $250/kWh. Would you rather pay $2000 (with zero fuel cost) for the extra UP TO 3 miles of range, or pay $250 + $0.12/kWh from your utility provider for the GUARANTEED 3 miles of range?

I would choose the latter.

You can fit much more than 200W on a roof. And the charging losses should be pretty low because you are going from DC->Battery. So I think you can at least double that amount to a 2KWH.

And yeah, that is not a large amount and something that will give you lots of miles . . . but that is not really the point. The REAL point to doing it is so that you have a nice source of electric energy that your car can use to maintain itself if/when it is left parked & unattended for a long period of time. If you leave the car somewhere for a few weeks, the solar PV will make sure you have some electricity to exercise the battery with, to keep the alarm system running, to keep any cellular communication system running, to keep the lock system running, and perhaps some climate control.

Basically, it is a GREAT way to make sure that people do not ‘brick’ their cars by allowing the battery to run completely dead.

remember, solar panels aren’t light. It’s more added weight – high up where you don’t want it. I’ll stick with an unadorned roof, thanks. Less to go wrong.

Solar panels on the roof are not at the right angle to make the most power. It’s best to have them on a fixed location facing South. It also limits roof space for carrying things on the vehicle. Not smart.

I agree with Brian. Given the weight and cost of todays solar panels, they make more sense on the roof of the garage, not on the roof of a car. If you want a feelgood option, they fit the bill. The problem is that you don’t get much bang for the buck.

Oh I agree that they are better on your home’s roof. It is angled and always outside. However, having PV on a car is still very useful as my message above shows.

Audi says they will offer 2m^2 of solar at the Q6 BEV. They can gain up to 10.000km a year by standing/driving outside.

I live at the beach and we have a lot of GEMs and other type of golf carts. The problem with these and other NEVs is that the low top speed makes them almost worthless. You can drive them from downtown to the beach, but you can’t drive them across town to the stores or to work.

I would like to see GEM / Polaris create something more like the Twizzy, with a top speed of 45 MPH, in addition to the 25 MPH NEVs.

25 mph is lame but 35 mph is not bad. 45 is nice, but 35 will do for a lot of people.

The problem is that the main highway (PCH) and most of the main artery streets in our town are 45 MPH. Even at 35 MPH, it would be unsafe and illegal to drive them in a NEV. In most of the neighboring cities, there are lots of 55 MPH streets.

I know the cost and bar for safety go way up at 45-55 MPH for a NEV, but that’s what it would take to make these GEMs useful for a wider audience.

Good point on the 45 mph speed limits in your area. Around Northern Virginia, we have a lot of 35 mph roads and few 45 mph roads so it would work fairly well here, but we also have 3 pretty cold months and even with windows and doors, the Gem e4 would cost $18,000 (with a 6.5 kW motor and distance AGM battery) but it would be pretty chilly to ride in it during the winter. I thought they used to have a basic heater but I don’t see it on their website now.

The problem is not the vehicles but the laws. I agree that 25 mph makes them nearly worthless. But 35mph is not so bad. That is just fine for running around town. And few states have laws that allow MSV (medium speed vehicles) to go 35 mph and on roads with posted limits up to 45mph.

But a speed max of 25 mph and only on roads with posted limits of 35mph makes NEVs largely useless. Why not just get an electric bicycle then.

The problem is not the law but the vehicle. These light, slow vehicles do not mix well with standard vehicles and are a danger to their occupants. There are reasons for these laws, whether we agree or not.

Max out an “e4” on options and you pay $36,985.00. You can buy a Nissan LEAF SV for that kind of money!

“Nobody pays list” is true in the airline business, and likely here too. Fleet owners push back for volume deals. If your organization is small enough that you _would_ buy one of these, your accountants/ procurement would actually steer you to used/reman, or upgrades to your current fleet.

It’s great that they are putting modern batteries in these things, but really, who wants to drive a GEM 95 miles?!? (at 25MPH no less)


I think a lot of people get them and then ‘mod’ them to go 35mph (albeit illegally).

The laws for top speed of an NEV varies by State. Yes, in a lot of States, perhaps most States, they are limited to 25 MPH. But in others, they are allowed to go up to (as I recall) 35 MPH. The laws vary in the Canadian Provinces, too.

I don’t see how Brammo can succeed in the battery pack business. They are too small a player. Where are they sourcing their cells?

I think it’s brilliant to use Brammo’s battery pack in the GEM, since Polaris already owns both companies. It may double the volume and help bring down the cost.

Polaris also owns Goupil of France since 2011. Goupil makes electric utility vehicles in Europe since 1996. There are a couple self explanatory videos on their website where you can see these critters in action.


My guess is that there is a lot more money to be made selling these EV utility vehicles than electric motorcycles. Offering those different battery options is a smart idea.

Well, the only negative here is the lofty pricing.

They’ve taken that orphen GEM (originally a Chrysler Product? or did Chrysler buy them also?), and really fleshed it out. I’m glad they also allow you to purchase a bare-bones, slow charging, cheap battery model, for those who don’t need anything more sophisticated.

It seems they’ve improved the vehicle in most every way. If you can afford the pricier options, bully for them.. Bravo Polaris.