Gas vs. Electric Golf Cart - Which is best for you?
Here are some widely held thoughts and misconceptions about gas and electric golf cars:
- Gas Golf Cars are more powerful so you need them in hilly terrain.
- Gas Golf Cars are more durable and last longer
- Gas Golf Cars are noisy, stinky and polluting.
- Gas Golf Cars are messy because they drip oil and gas
- Gas Golf Cars are cheaper because you don't have to buy a new set of batteries every 3 or 4 years.
- Electric Golf Cars are really not suitable for hilly terrain Electric Golf Cars just don't have the 'get up and go' that a gas car does.
- Electric Golf Cars can be dangerous downhill because they don't have the slowing 'compression' of a gas engine.
- Electric Golf Cars don't get the 'mileage' that a gas car does.
- Electric Golf Cars are smooth, quiet and clean.
OK, you may or may not believe all those statements and you shouldn't, because for the most part they are not True. But keep them in mind as we discuss the pros and cons of Gas vs Electric.
THE GAS GOLF CAR DILEMMA
First of all, the statement that gas golf cars pollute is correct. The Federal Government and State and Local governments continue to crack down on all polluting gas engines, They have recently started putting emissions on Gas Golf carts now too.---
California is one of the strictest states and has already banned gas golf cars in several regions of the state. Other States have or are threatening to do the same thing. Golf car manufacturers are very sensitive to these growing restrictions. What to do? Well, how about cutting down on the emissions and pollution? OK but virtually everything you do to engineer this ends up cutting down on the power of the engine. Now you have a 'wimpy' engine that just won't do the job. Well just put a bigger engine in it, dummy!
Not so fast. Sure you can put a bigger engine in it but you drive the cost up to where it isn't competitive with electric cars and certainly with other manufacturers who DON'T put in a bigger engine or clean up the emissions. You won't sell very many of them, so why make them?
Now if you have had in mind that a Gas Car is more desirable merely because batteries in an Electric Car have to be replaced every 6-8 years or so, best think again. True, a set of batteries Starts about $800, but perhaps you haven't been taking into consideration what it costs to have an engine tune up and the maintenance and repair parts cost each season. Since that is part of our business we can tell you that it will just about balance out the cost of a new set of batteries. No help here in making a Gas versus Electric choice.
THE ELECTRIC GOLF CAR DILEMMA
If you haven't driven a modern gas and a modern electric golf car, you are probably not aware of the fact that there have been some vast changes in recent years. Most of those changes have come in the Electric Car field. The pressures from EPA have driven manufacturers to constantly work to improve the performance and operation of Electric Golf Cars. And they have been very successful. New in recent years are terms like programmable 'Regen Speeds', programmable 'Ramp-up Speeds', 'programmable Top Speeds', and NEVs. We'll try to explain these terms in a bit, but first let's discuss what they all mean as a total. They mean that today's modern Electric Golf Cars have almost leaped ahead of gas golf cars. Not only are they quiet and non polluting, but they can outperform gas golf cars in start up acceleration, downhill slowing (not using the brakes), and top speeds in many cases.
None of this used to be true with the older types of Electric Golf Cars powered with Series Wound Electric Motors. Now the vast majority of Electric Golf Cars have very sophisticated electronic controllers that can change the way a particular electric motor responds. The ability of a golf course to manage the efficiency of electric golf cars continues to improve. And new advancements are constantly emerging.
So all the old beliefs about Electric Golf Cars not having the performance of Gas Golf Cars just is no longer true. Now when discussing the cost of replacing batteries, it's another story. Heard about NiCad batteries? Jell-Cell batteries?, New Super Batteries? Well for the time being, you can forget about all those with regards to golf cars. There is not another battery in even remote competition with the Lead-Acid, flooded cell, batteries. There are three compelling reasons, Cost, Cost Cost. Then you can throw in reliability.
We talked at length with all the major battery manufacturers at the golf shows and not one had any other idea than to make the Lead-Acid battery as efficient as possible. And over the years they have been doing just that. Lead-Acid batteries are an interesting subject in themselves and we will be doing an article on just them in the future. But for now count on dealing with Lead-Acid batteries. Will they get cheaper? NO! nothing gets cheaper (except Hi Tech), you know that. But they may well get more efficient. Not many years ago a discovery in the substance used merely to hold the active materiel to the plates resulted in a gigantic efficiency of Lead-Acid batteries.
Let's talk about the 'range' of gas vs electric golf cars. Well, electric car with their new efficient motors can certainly go two round of golf on one charge. And running around the neighborhood or the farm (whatever) is probably sufficient for most uses. But if you want to take it out to the 'back forty' and work on fixing the fences from dawn to dusk, forget about taking along an extra set of batteries. An extra can of gas for your gas golf cart is the answer to this requirement.
DILEMMA, DILEMMA WHAT DO I CHOOSE? GAS OR ELECTRIC?
Of course every situation has a different set of circumstances. These are some of the most important questions you must answer for yourself:
- What Is My Budget?
- How Will I Use My Golf Car?
- Where Will I Use MY Golf Car?
The Bottom Line is, for most people, the Electric cart is the Most Convenient, Most Affordable , Most Reliable for most uses. If you have a have large property and want it for a work horse for a large ranch with over 100 acres. Or electricity is not available Gas may be your answer. Either way we can help put you in the right cart.
Now if you are somewhat confused, here is an Explanation of Terms:
- Regen Electric Motor (Regen is a contraction of "Regenerative"): An electric motor (and its electronic Controller) that can use the downhill speed of an electric golf car to actually make the motor act as a generator (slightly charging the batteries in the process). This process 'adsorbs' energy, which in turn can be used to slow or brake the golf car. How much 'slowing' can be programmed into the Controller.
- Electronic Controller: This is a sophisticated electronic device that can be programmed (these days) to tell the electric motor how to perform under different circumstances.
- Ramp-up Speed: Tromp on the accelerator and the 'rate' of acceleration is the ramp-up speed.
- Regen Braking: The amount of braking that the electric motor (alone) slows the golf car. This can be programmed by many modern Controllers to be in a range from just under top speed to as slow as 2 or 3 mph for a 'runaway' safety setting in case you forget to put on the parking brake.
- NEV (Neighborhood Electric Vehicle): A class of Electric vehicle designated by the Federal Government as a 'Street Legal' vehicle for speeds up to 25 mph. Must have lights, turn signals, windshield washers, seat belts, etc. etc. to make it street worthy. Most manufacturers make this so it can be used in a Golf Mode (15 mph top speed) or Street Mode (25 mph max).