Lithium Ion Golf Carts are Here Now are They Worth it?

Well the time has finally come where we are beginning to see Lithium Ion golf carts finally roll off the production line available from both EZ-GO / Jacobsen and the luxury golf cart maker Garia as well. I have long been a proponent of moving fleet golf carts into Lithium Ion even when the pricing was fairly steep.

I mentioned to one of the major golf cart makers of my interest in this concept 5-6 years ago. I contacted some random Li battery makers as well just to get a better understanding of why we were not already seeing this technology widely used. I even purchased a set of batteries to give it a try myself and quickly realized the little things that needed to happen in order to make this technology work properly. The biggest of those was the issue with the weight of the cart. While I have to admit I felt this a very small issue until I actually installed a set and realized how unstable the cart became which led us to counter balancing it by adding weight which was taking away from some of the benefits. So golf cart redesign was a major one of those issues to help make the car stable. I also was told there were efficiency issues, controller issues, issues with the batteries staying on when the car was left on, etc. So as I started hearing more and more it was sounding like it was quite a way off.

Recently EZ-GO mentioned the release of their ELiTE Lithium Ion cart which is kind of exciting in the world of golf carts where very little has changed other than a few body pieces here and there and the recent addition of USB plugs and stylish rims. It’s hard to get excited about golf carts when they don’t change for years however this is exciting to me for a few reasons:

  • Guests should not experience golf cart’s running out of juice on the golf course. I mean they are paying in many cases a large amount of money to have a great time to have a golf cart run out of juice in the middle of a round can just kill that experience.
  • My view is that the customer spends 85-90 percent of their round in the golf cart. Much of their experience is coming from that cart so we need it to look good, perform good and be comfortable.
  • The maintenance costs to keep lead acid batteries going is quite expensive. On a moderately busy golf courses you need a full time employee to fill batteries and the busier it is the more it needs to be checked. Li doesn’t need the batteries to be filled. While that won’t eliminate a full time employee entirely it will allow that employee to focus on other things to improve the guest experience.
  • The other is charging time. EZ-GO is touting to be 59% more efficient than Club Car. Even if it was much less than that it could equate to a lot of energy savings.
  • Another is a 5 year warranty on the batteries. Currently one of the major issues with lead acid is the decline we see at around the 3rd year on a set of batteries where courses start getting through just a little more than 18 holes. This leads many to running 3-4 year leases to avoid the $900 per cart putting new batteries in.
  • I guess they are also stating there is less compaction due to it being a lighter cart and maybe that’s true but the jury is out on whether it will make any effect on the wear areas we all see on our courses. You can see tour events where just walk paths get worn down from people walking areas.

I have a few clients looking into these as are we at my club as we are due to make a switch soon and I certainly think they are worth running the numbers and taking a look at. My thought is if we can get an extra year or 2 on a lease or purchase, save on energy, save on maintenance costs and have a better guest experience where else should we be looking?

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  1. Robert
    April 06, 08:21 Reply

    It’s great in concept.. But with the lack of over all improvements on the ez go carts. Such as the rear spring suspension and the lack of a working bumper on the carts. And the sketchy ez go service is also a serious problem. Buying a fleet of ez go carts is certainly not a maintenance free plan. Yes battery maintenance is a issue with acid batterys. But a li cart with a bad design is a factor you must look at. Ez go has always had frame corrosion issues. In humid areas. And the lack of a solid tow system is a massive draw back. Untill ezgo addresses the basics of cart design… It might be wise to wait before investing in this costly idea.

    • admin
      April 13, 20:24 Reply

      While I agree and have owned 3 different brands in the past they all have their issues not only on the cars themselves but also in service. As with purchasing / leasing anything service needs to be considered. None of the carts are maintenance free even with Li batteries however it does take one more thing off an already busy plate for most technicians.

  2. charles
    October 01, 22:30 Reply

    WE HAVE 150 OF THEM LESS THAN A OLD. WHEN WE GOT THEM THEY WENT 36 HOLES

    NOW WE HAVE THEM DYING AT 27 TO 34 HOLES NOT GOOD

    6 YEAR WARRANTY WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BUY 75 MORE BAD IDEA

    NO MAINTENANCE IS GREAT FEATURE

    • admin
      October 28, 08:18 Reply

      Thanks for the comment Charles. I have a course out in California that has had their fleet just over a year now (close to 100 carts) and is reporting that they have had no issues other than one cart needing a firmware update and it was good to go. They seem to love them. We will see what year 2 brings. Thanks again for you comment.

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