If you want your vehicle for use mainly on a golf course, then a golf cart is the obvious choice as most golf courses prohibit the use of NEVs. (Some NEVs have a turf mode which enables them to be driven on grass without damaging it. Some golf courses allow these.) Ask at the club before buying!
Buying Electric Golf Carts / NEVs
The legal definitions concerning whether your vehicle is an electric golf cart, or a NEV are very specific. The legal definitions concern all the boring technical information about the vehicle such as its weight, capacity, number of wheels, horsepower etc.
It doesn't matter how the vehicle is labelled when you are buying----if it doesn't fit the legal definition, you won't get the type of license you thought you might get. My advice is always to make sure you check with your local authority and have all the technical specifications to hand before you buy. If you are buying from a reputable dealer, this usually isn't an issue. But if you are buying second-hand, or online, double check everything yourself first, just to be sure.
There are two types of dealer you can buy electric vehicles from----licensed and unlicensed. If you think you might want to upgrade your golf cart to a NEV, it would probably be better to buy from a licensed dealer, as it makes the registration process simpler for you. A dealer can do the paperwork for you, but only if she or he is licensed. Otherwise, you get to do all that lovely paperwork yourself! More unpaid work for the government!
If you are buying a golf cart just for off-road use, you don't need to buy from a licensed dealer because you don't need to license it as you would a NEV, or ordinary car.
But even though you don't need to buy from a licensed dealer, do buy from a reputable dealer!
Electric Golf Carts
So, who uses these funny looking vehicles?
It's not only seniors and golfers who can use a golf cart. Any enclosed campus is ideal for golf cart use, and not just golf courses and resorts. They are great as work vehicles at airports, zoos, parks, etc.
If you own a large farm, or ranch, you might like a golf cart to survey your kingdom! Golf carts are now being used for trail-trekking and dirt-road driving and even sand-dune recreational use. I once came across them in the middle of the desert---it was quite surreal!
The wonderful thing about golf carts is how reliable they are. And how affordable!
Who Can Drive Electric Golf Carts?
Electric golf carts are a great way to introduce safe driving habits to your teenagers. It is legal for 12-year-olds to drive golf carts when there is an adult driver beside them. This is a good way of sneaking in some good driver training before your kid is old enough to refuse to listen to you!
Teenagers, of 15 years and up, can drive golf carts unaccompanied, if they have a learner permit. If you are lucky enough to live in a golf cart friendly community, a golf cart might make a much better sweet-fifteen present than a gas-guzzler a year later!
Types of Electric Golf Carts
It is easy to have custom-built golf carts made to suit your specific needs. They can be open top or with roofs/canopies and windshields. There are a myriad of other accessories you can add. They pretty much come in all shapes and sizes too, for single or multi-passenger capacity. Some actually look more like Neighborhood Electric Vehicles and others are just little buggys.
You can even get luxury golf carts, like the Hummer 3 Estate, that looks exactly like a gas Hummer (if you like that sort of thing!) but only goes 19 miles per hour. Or, more to my taste, the Classy Chassis, which reminds me of a beautiful antique Morgan I used to drive in once upon a time. Nothing like a bit of electric style!
Golf Cart Driving Tips
When driving a golf cart, remember to be careful. You can reach speeds that can cause serious accidents.
Make sure your foot/leg/arm doesn't overhang and get caught on a branch or something protruding from the ground as you zip past.
Golf carts are fine for use on grass, but don't drive on soggy ground, or you'll rip it up.
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They're clean! They're green!
They're the wonderful electric car machines!