Electric vs. Gas Golf Carts

By Michael Hinckley

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Motorized golf carts first starting appearing on courses in the 1940s, allowing people with disabilities to play the game. Since then, carts have become a mainstay--and even a requirement--at golf courses in the United States. Deciding which type of golf cart, gas- or electric-powered, is right for an individual or golf course involves evaluating factors such as terrain, speed of play, range, price and maintenance.


Because of advances in recharging and regeneration of electricity in electric carts, most newer models can easily run for 18 holes, or even 36 holes, without recharging. Gasoline-powered carts can do the same without refueling, so for use on the golf course, both gas and electric do well in terms of range of operation. If you are using the cart for something other than a round of golf, however, such as working on a large property where the cart will carry a person and tools for long distances, opt for a gas-powered cart and bring an extra can of gas.


Gasoline-powered carts use an internal combustion engine, which generates noise, roughly equivalent to a lawnmower or ATV. Electric-powered carts, on the other hand, are silent or close to it, emitting a "whirring" sound when moving. If your course has paths relatively close to homes, the silence of the electric carts would be an advantage.


More electric carts are in use, particularly in states like California, which has restrictions on the emissions of gas-powered vehicles. Advances in technology have only solidified the broader trend toward electric carts, and they are the most popular variety bought today.

Daily costs

Operating costs of gas-powered and electric-powered golf carts are roughly the same. Gas price fluctuations, oil changes and tune-ups affect costs for gas-powered carts, while electric-powered carts require daily recharges and the replacement of the battery banks every four years. If looked at on a per-year or per-season basis, their costs wind up roughly equivalent.

Response to Inactivity

Gas-powered carts are easier and quicker to refuel and are more reliable starters after months of inactivity (such as winter storage), assuming they have been properly maintained. Electric-powered carts require up to four hours to recharge their batteries after a season in storage and may require three or four recharge-depletion cycles to reach full capacity again.

About the Author

Michael Hinckley received a Bachelor of Arts degree in US history from the University of Cincinnati, a Master of Arts degree in Middle East history from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Hinckley is conversant in Arabic, and is a part-time lecturer at two Midwestern universities.