Dear Floridians: Golf Carts Are NOT Electric Cars

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Electric car enthusiasts have struggled for years with "golf cart" jibes and only recently with cars like the 2011 Tesla Roadster and 2012 Nissan Leaf has the "ugly and slow" image started to disappear.

In Florida, there's a different problem - people who believe their golf carts are actual cars. So many people are using the cars to pop out for groceries that golf cart dealerships are doing a roaring trade.

Unsurprisingly, the increased number of carts on the roads isn't without its problems. Golf carts aren't technically road legal - they lack the headlamps, taillights, brake lights, licence plate lights, turn signals, seat belts, mirrors, parking brakes, windshield wipers and the horn required on all road legal vehicles. That's quite a list and converting a cart into a LSV or "low speed vehicle" can cost over $1,000.

With a top speed of only 25mph the carts certainly aren't suitable on regular roads, though some communities allow carts to use some quieter roads. Others turn a blind eye as long as their users aren't inconveniencing normal traffic flow. In some areas, tourists are even using them in lieu of a regular rental car. In communities like The Villages, a retirement community near Orlando, FL, there's an estimated 50,000 carts.

With gas prices at $3.50 a gallon or more, the benefits of using the carts are obvious. But we want to make it clear: Golf carts are NOT electric cars.

At between $5,000 and $25,000 carts are potentially a cheaper way of going electric, but they lag severely behind in many of the areas that modern EVs have made huge strides in - range, performance and passenger comfort.

At $27,700 after tax savings for a 2012 Nissan Leaf, you'd have to seriously want a slower, worse-built, less safe and less practical golf cart to spend $25,000 on one - even if it is styled to look like an Escalade, or a Shelby GT500.

Any modern electric car is also capable of greater distances than a golf cart so you wouldn't just be restricted to driving around your local area, and even slower electric cars like the 2011 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive have enough performance for occasional highway journeys, even if you wouldn't want to take it on the freeway.

We appreciate the motives behind using the carts for local driving - after all, you're saving money on gas and reducing local pollution levels - but we'd still recommend a regular electric car if you're planning to use a cart solely for road use.

We think many people in communities like The Villages could probably do without their gasoline cars entirely, and the money saved could buy them a real electric car.

[Orlando Sentinel]


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Comments (9)
  1. Well, if Anthony thinks golf carts cost between $5,000 and $25,000 he sure doesn't know much about them. A top of the line cart with chrome or allow wheels, high output battery pack and electric motor can easily be had for $3300. May be remanufactured, but is essentially a new vehicle except for the frame. I have never heard of any non-customized cart costing over $4500. You can easily find very well maintained carts for $2,000 and less.

  2. Sorry to disappoint Kent but the price figures were taken from the dealer himself, quoted in my source article.

  3. Hmmm, I was curious so I looked around Ebay and found it would be difficult to spend more than $7000 for a high end golf cart.

    The higher priced items are LSVs (low speed vehicles) which look to be more like $15,000 for a non-custom fully enclosed vehicle.

    The $25,000 must be for one-off custom LSVs which actually look pretty cool.

  4. Finally someone wrote about this... that's absolutely right golf carts are NOT electric. I still don't understand that how can people assume it to be electric when it starts with a puttering sound and gives out smoke?

  5. There are more electric carts then gas, the article is about some people thinking golf carts are electric cars. Gas carts are used by golf course employees and other buisnesses because they need to run all day, golfers and other private cart owners have electric carts. Gas carts are becoming a rarity. Trust me I'm a Floridian

  6. With the over inflated price of gasoline and the over inflated price of electric cars, I can understand the great rush for golf carts. If you're just going down to the store to pick up a couple cans of cat food for dinner, the golf cart is the cheapest and easiest way to get there and when you get there, you can actually afford the couple cans of cat food you had planned for dinner. The golf cart would be no different than ridding a three wheel bicycle that most seniors like to ride, but if you have knee or hip problems like most seniors have, then the golf cart is the best and cheapest transportation to go with.

  7. Folks drive vehicles that meet their needs, that is electric, and they can afford. So now you want to blast them for this decision? Cheap shot.

    I have spoken with EVERY new vehicle dealership in this area. None of them offer any electric vehicles. There are no inexpensive diesel options. I live in Maine. There are no electric options available to me, outside of golf carts.

    I have contacted manufacturer websites and spoken with their customer reps making follow-up calls. There are no electric vehicles available outside of gold carts.

    Do not blast someone for driving an electric vehicle. How about making some other form of electric vehicle available first.

    Test marketing is fine. Publishing these 'reports' is fine but it is all fantasy..

  8. My company is soon to start production of Superior Low Speed Vehicle. Our market research showed us that current safety standards for LSV's are not what the public wants; No to golf carts on steroids! They want 70% lower operating costs but they want affordable, safe, & versatile LSV's. EcoV will sell for $11,999 well equipped with doors & heater. EcoV does everything & more than our customers want. EcoV stops quickly, much superior to a golf cart, can takes turns at 25 mph & not roll over, unlike golf carts, & EcoV will be crash tested which no current LSV has done or would do. EcoV has automotive ride, comfort, durability & reliability. EcoV is virtually maintenance free. If interested visit us on Facebook or web

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