All electric: GEM of a ride hits town

A new electric car is turning heads in Charlottesville– and it's not a hybrid. A local company called Security Associates recently bought a global electric motor vehicle (GEM) which agents use to monitor large events in the area.

"We wanted something different for our officers, not the typical golf carts," says company owner Roger Matthias, a former Albemarle County police officer.

Everything in the car is electric, including the steering and braking components, the shock system, and what Matthias calls the "super-duper electric engine."

That means the GEM can laugh at gas pumps. And lest anyone laugh at GEM as merely a souped-up golf cart, it can hustle a rider along at 25 mph, sheltered from the elements.

"The car is very high profile, environmentally safe, and lets people know that security is at the event," says Matthias.

So look for the egg-shaped car with yellow lights and siren at UVA football games and concerts at the new Charlottesville Pavilion. For instance, Security Associates' nighttime inspections in the GEM secured the Pavilion and band equipment during a recent Widespread Panic concert.

Another local owner is SNL Financial, which held a naming contest for its GEM: the winning entry was "SNeetLe."

If it all sounds like fun and games, there's a price to pay: $12,000 and up from a subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler. But GEM owners may get the last laugh, as a calculator on the GEM website suggests that the cost of a "gallon" of electricity to power a GEM is about 18 cents.

The GEM security vehicle


SNL Financial has one too