ATG (JanFeb10) - Gas or Electric?

By Editor,

Gas or Electric, which is best for me?
Aaron - St.Louis, MO.

If you are considering buying a golf car and require detailed information on whether it should be gasoline or electric powered, the following factors are points to consider in your decision making process:

Initial Cost: You can expect to pay more for a new gas car over a new electric car. The reason being gasoline powered cars have so many more moving parts than its electric counterpart. As gasoline powered cars age, you’re going to see the difference in price grow, because used gas cars become harder to find in really good condition (supply versus demand).

Performance: Gas and electric cars perform equally on flat or rolling terrain (stock cars). Gas cars have a slight edge climbing steep hills versus electric, except for the newer 48-volt electric cars which are equally peppy when combined with a performance motor upgrade. Electric cars do provide a smoother and quicker standing start. With the right motor and controller upgrade, 0 up to 30 MPH acceleration will be much quicker than a gas car.

Noise: Battery powered cars emit very little, if any noise when compared to gas powered cars. This is a great feature for hunters or folks that want to operate in stealth mode around camp grounds! New and late model gas powered cars, have become relatively quieter compared to older models due to improvements in air intake systems and the reduction of vibration in the transaxle, and clutches.

Maintenance Costs: Whether you have a gas or electric car, PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE is paramount to extending the life of your golf car. Electric cars require a minimal amount of maintenance due to the fact that they have so few moving parts. With a reasonable amount of care, a set of electric car batteries should last about five years with the ability to travel at least 30+ plus miles on a single charge, based on a flat surface (larger diameter wheels and hills will decrease the length of run time). Gas cars should be serviced at least annually to include changing the oil, oil filter (if your car has this feature), spark plug and air filter. Drive belt and starter generator belts may need to be replaced every two to three years. Also factored in would be a battery replacement, starter brushes and a drive clutch over the same 5 year period. Costs for a gas car over five years can cost more than an electric car. Electric cars include the cost of replacement for a set of six 6-volt batteries, distilled water and some baking soda for an occasional clean-up. (This does not include the labor costs for performing these services or the cost of gasoline, kilowatt-hours for charging or other items such as tires, cables, brakes or other items common to normal wear on both gas and electric cars.) While the overall costs are fairly close, you’re going to spend a lot more time “hands on” with your gas car (cleaning the carburetor, adjusting valves, etc.), as opposed to watering and cleaning your batteries with an electric car. One last note; the gas car costs makes the assumption that you have purchased a car with an engine which still has 5 good years left on it. Electric motors rarely ever require rebuilding, even after 10 years or more of service in most cars.

Operating Costs: The primary cost for gas powered cars is the retail price of gasoline and we all know what is happening to the price of gas. The primary cost for an electric car is the price of a kilowatt-hour of electricity; times the number of hours your car will charge. This average charge time is about 8 to 10 hours based on very heavy usage (80% discharge), but could be as low as 2 to 4 hours for lighter usage.

Pollution: In terms of environmental issues, electric cars are considered “zero emission vehicles”. Gas cars have undergone tremendous improvements in exhaust emission with the advent of the 4-cycle engine, but these engines do still contribute to our growing air quality problems. In fact, new gasoline powered golf cars have been illegal to sell in California for a number of years now.

Golf Car Body: The cowlings are of the same material composite for both gas and electric. All versions should be made from relatively resilient and unbreakable materials. Of course if you are one of those folks that could break a steel anvil with a rubber mallet, then unbreakable might not be the right word.

Golf Car Frame: Different brands use different structural frame material. Most use steel frames, however one manufacturer uses an aluminum frame. Some folks boast that aluminum does not rust, which is true. But aluminum will corrode or erode away in areas where high concentrations of acid are found, such as around the battery tray on both gas and electric cars. While aluminum is much lighter than steel, welding costs would be much higher should any repairs be required. Both materials work very well in these structural applications.

When making the purchase consider the following questions;

1)    Where and how will I be using the car?

2)    What accessories will I want to add?

3)    Will the car sit unused for long periods of time?

4)    What warranty options are there?

Of course, your own personal preference is the most important factor in choosing gas or electric.


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