September 19, 2003  


Gemcars Debut in Lab Fleet

By Matt Howard

Have you seen the new electric cars buzzing around SLAC? If you have, chances are you are curious about them and probably want one to drive yourself. If you haven’t seen them yet, keep your eyes peeled.

DOE has required that SLAC reduce the number of vehicles on site. The Lab is responding by replacing several vehicles with new electric vehicles—known as Gemcars—that are not considered ‘vehicles’ by DOE. The vehicles being replaced are both older DOE vehicles with high maintenance costs, and also some newer GSA vehicles, which are expensive to lease.

Peter Budrunas (SEM) demonstrates a SLAC Gemcar.
(Photo by Matt Howard)

The Gemcars are cleaner and cheaper to operate—a big improvement from the fuel cars we currently use. They are known as ‘zero emission’ cars, meaning that they don’t give off any harmful pollutants.

Our current fuel cars cost about $5,000 per year to maintain, while the base price of the Gemcars ranges from $5,000 to $7,500 for a one-time purchase (accessories such as doors, boxes that go on top of the bed and cages that go around the bed will increase this price) plus a maintenance cost of about $500 per year to keep them in shape.

The older electric cars at SLAC cost more to maintain, and their maximum speed is only 15 mph, while the Gemcars can reach a top speed of 25 mph, ideal for the site (where the speed limit is 25 mph, don’t forget).

Two types of Gemcars were purchased, the four-passenger and the two-passenger long back (featured in the picture). The long back will be used mainly to transport items that need to be moved around; it has roughly the carrying capacity of a Chevy S10 (a small pickup). The four-passenger will primarily be used to transport people.

Charging the cars is very simple; all you need is a standard outlet to plug the car into. When completely drained, the car charges to full in about 10 hours. Each car will run for 35 miles per charge.

Gemcars are strictly for on-site use. Since there are no Gemcars available for general use, departments must buy a Gemcar outright if they wish to have one. To find out more about purchasing a Gemcar, contact: Peter Budrunas (SEM), Ext. 2271,


The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center is managed by Stanford University for the US Department of Energy

Last update Thursday September 18, 2003 by Kathy B