Here’s how and why cars and trucks will be replaced with … golf carts?

There hasn’t been a better year for car sales in about a decade, but some experts see change on the horizon with electric vehicles, such as golf carts.

That’s right. We said golf carts – and all-terrain vehicles.

“When people think of electric vehicles, they think of Tesla,” writes Thomas Bartman in Harvard Business Review. “But if you want to see the future of EVs it’s important to look [beyond automakers].”

Photo: Tesla Model E electric sedan.
Tesla Model E electric sedan.

“There are two categories of disruptive EVs: low-speed electric vehicles and electric utility vehicles,” he writes, including vehicles built on platforms mostly used for golf carts and ATVs.

“For short trips around a development, [low-speed EVs] are actually more desirable than cars; they don’t create tailpipe or noise pollution; they’re slow, increasing pedestrian safety, and they’re cheap to buy and charge. Range and comfort limitations aren’t important factors because they’re only used for short trips in good weather. Full-size cars would be overkill in applications like this.”

But golfing communities, college campuses and residential developments aren’t the only places such low-impact vehicles may be useful, Bartman suggests. “Small-format EUVs are increasingly replacing full-size combustion-powered delivery vehicles in congested cities.”

And imagine what they could mean for downtown and highway automobile traffic.


Before you scoff at the prospect of golf cars zipping around our roadways, consider this.

Bartman compares today’s auto industry to sailing ships of the past, which gradually were replaced by steam vessels as that technology developed from its initial limited uses.

“We’re witnessing a similar pattern develop in low-speed EVs and EUVs,” Bartman writes.

“Early generations of low-speed EVs were basically golf carts that could be driven on public roads. [But] manufacturers have added features like hard doors, stereos, even heaters and defrosters,” he writes.

“These improvements don’t seem like much compared to the features of traditional automobiles … but each improvement brings the disruptive product closer to the minimum performance requirements of the least-demanding mainstream customers.”

And, perhaps, drivers that much closer to wanting golf carts or ATVs in their driveways instead of cars.