Playa De Oro Neighbors Association AC

July 2017

President’s Message

 July 21, 2017



The Polaris GEM electric vehicle for Security’s patrols has finally landed.   It has been a long arduous journey.  The search for an electric vehicle to replace existing patrol vehicles utilized by Security began in early February 2017.    In January the price of gasoline went up 20% in one fell swoop.  Gasoline had been on a continuous increase in price for the last 2 years.

The cost of gasoline just for Security to patrol the sub-division was fast approaching $500 USD per month.   Again the exchange rate was in our favor but was starting to move against us.   It became evident that savings in energy cost by switching to electricity could put Security into a new or relatively new vehicle and pay out the purchase in 2 to 3 years.   It was also in keeping with the direction the HOA is going in regards to greening the pool.

The research narrowed the choice down to the Polaris GEM.   GEM have been around since the late 1990’s.  There are many of the early models still in use and command a price in the $2500 USD range depending on condition.

The decision was to purchase new in Mexico for a number of reasons not the least that the HOA meets legal requirements in Mexico.    That way we could write off the costs legitimately with Hacienda (the Mexican IRS.)

After much negotiation with the Polaris representative for Mexico it became evident that a new 2 seater stripped model was beyond the budget.     Used from the USA was considered.  The end result after many hours of search and rejecting various used GEM from all over the USA was a 2014 E4 was found in northern California at a car dealership.  

This unit had 3 miles on it and yes the mileage was genuine.  It was a 4 place with hard doors so the cabin is totally enclosed.  This was important to Security.   Even 5 mph on a cold January night when the temperature is 45 F is a way to cold without a wind.  Add a wind and it is a killer.   The hard door kit on a four place is approximately $3500 USD option alone.

The purchase price at the car dealer was just under $7100 USD.   The plan was to import the vehicle into Mexico and thus no tax and/or fees in California.  That was easier said than done.   In order to not pay California their fees the shipping bill of lading had to show an address in Mexico.   However to get it imported into Mexico the vehicle had to land in Calexico, then  complete the importation process and cross the border.   It took over 2 months to resolve that issue.

Finally that got cleared, the GEM was picked up by a trucking firm and delivered to a storage year in Calexico for importation that should take 10 days to 2 weeks.


The HOA used the services of San Felipe Storage for their expertise, knowledge and experience to get the GEM imported.   Sam Grubb, who is a resident of PDO HOA and involved in ownership of San Felipe Storage, was instrumental in San Felipe Storage (SFS) foregoing a goodly portion of their fees to make the GEM more attractive financially to the HOA.

To say the importation was a challenge is to put it mildly.  The process took nearly 2 months and had Sam, our own Chris Cox as well as Eduardo Ruiz (manager of SFS) and Edgar Orozco (HOA Accountant) believing the challenges were never going to end.  However they hung in there and the GEM did make it to PDO HOA.

Eduardo, over a much deserved drink, related that according to the broker as well as custom officials at the Calexico/Mexicali crossing that this was the first GEM into Mexico.  So it was an experience and a high learning curve for all involved.   Actually one would think the HOA should have got a reduction in fees for providing all the training to everyone involved in the importation.   Somehow that got overlooked.

The good thing is the HOA had done it legally and complied with Mexico law.  As well as Eduardo pointed out the GEM is free to cross the border into the USA and back into Mexico if we should ever need to do that.

It is extremely quiet.   All that is heard is the noise of the tires on the sand.   The response from Security has been very positive.   According the information available in regard to electrical consumption the energy operating costs should be less than 20% of the price of gasoline.   Add to that we should be ahead on repairs.

The GEM operates on 6 deep cycle 12 volt automotive type batteries.    Batteries are readily available.   Battery life is anticipated at 5 years plus in this climate and cost approximately $1500.   The HOA budget for 2017 for vehicle repair of existing gas vehicle is $1800.   That only applies if there is not a major wreck and that number could be noticeably greater.   Battery replacement and minor items for the GEM should be under $500 USD annually.

It is anticipated that electrical energy cost should run under $100 per month, likely closer to $80 USD per month.  This is compared to the HOA budget for gasoline in 2017 of $500 USD per month.

Discussions with individuals that either operate and/or repair GEMs indicates that barring misuse and/or accidents that the vehicle is sturdy and require little maintenance other than good battery management.

So many thanks to Sam Grubb, Eduardo of SFS, Edgar our accountant as well as our own Chris Cox for a frustrating job well done.  If you see them buy them a drink.  They certainly deserve it.



Wayne Arnesen


Playa de Oro Neighbors Association A.C. 


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