Golf carts market is witnessing significant demand across myriad applications worldwide, with the utility of these compact vehicles gradually transcending beyond simply shuttling players and their equipment across golf courses. The vehicle is used for short-distance transport solutions in ranches, hotels, resorts, multi-family housing properties, and industrial sites, among others. This, in turn, has substantially broadened the application scope of the golf cart industry across commercial applications.
Golf cars are generally built low to the ground so as to give them a lower center of gravity, in order to prevent spills on uneven terrains. Furthermore, their ease of use and convenience is another factor contributing to the burgeoning popularity of modern golf cart technologies.
In planned communities, golf cars are touted as an essential part of everyday activities by elderly people living there. To cite an instance in the U.S., an Atlanta-based community, Peachtree City, Ga., has encouraged the use of golf carts among its residents for several years. With over 90 miles of golf cart paths spread across the community, the usage of these vehicles has helped not just to streamline traffic movement in the region but has also earned the community a position on CNN/Money’s list of the Best Places to Live.
More recently, in August 2020, the City Council of Clinton approved a new ordinance, which would allow the use of gas and electric golf carts on city streets, subject to certain regulatory standards and operational parameters. With the presence of these vehicles expanding beyond golf courses into commercial applications, the global golf cart market will maintain a strong growth trajectory and is poised to surpass USD 2 billion in value by 2027.
How will a renewed interest during the COVID-19 pandemic impact golf cart industry trends?
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, courses were being forced to remain closed due to social distancing measures and lockdowns, leading to a sharp decline in the number of rounds played at the beginning of 2020. Later stages of the pandemic, however, sparked hope for a turnaround for the game. With quarantine restrictions and mass closures easing gradually, golf courses emerged as the most ideal socially distant, “safe” space for recreation. This, in turn, led to a notable surge of interest in the game.
In fact, the U.S. NGF (National Golf Foundation) recorded 24.8 million golfers in the United States in 2020, indicating a rise of almost 2%, or 500,000 over 2019, the largest net increase recorded in 17 years. 2020 also witnessed the most profound percentage rise in golf beginners and younger millennial golfers.
There is some uncertainty surrounding the near future of the game, given the reemergence of COVID-19 across several nations, fueled by a larger than usual volume of opt-outs from players citing economic or pandemic-related challenges. Industry experts have dubbed 2021 as a key transition year, and have opined that the golf landscape post-pandemic may be stronger with more golfers and better momentum than previous years, invariably expanding golf cart market size.
Solar-powered golf cart models to usher in a new era of light mobility
Solar-powered golf carts are garnering considerable attention today, given their popularity among owners who need to cover larger distances. End-users of the vehicles include golf course fleets, resort & city transport facilities, utility maintenance workers, and VIP cart drivers on college campuses, to name a few.
The benefits of transitioning to solar power as a means of vehicle propulsion are supported by many studies and research efforts over the years. One such techno-economic study, conducted by scientists from the Aarhus University in Denmark, suggests that a 50-cart golf buggy fleet could facilitate a reduction in energy consumption from the grid if every unit was equipped with a 250 W panel. The analysis, which examined the use of solar-powered golf carts at the Marbella, Spain-based Los Naranjos Golf Club, claimed that the adoption of these vehicles could be a profitable endeavor, capable of producing annual savings of almost €15,607, considering a €75,000 upfront investment.
Technological advancements and strategic collaboration among major golf cart industry players are also likely to add impetus to solar-powered golf cart demand in the years ahead. Developing countries are also recording a substantial interest in electric-powered golf cars. For instance, in October 2020, India’s Kinetic Green Vehicles announced its intention to launch a new range of solar and electric-powered golf carts, designed by noted automaker Lamborghini, as part of the joint venture inked by Tonino Lamborghini and Kinetic Green in 2018.
Under the terms of the agreement, Lamborghini will handle the designing of the vehicles, while Kinetic Green will handle their production and marketing for global markets via its manufacturing facility in India. The novel golf cart series will be equipped with several high-end technologies, including advanced suspension and hydraulic brakes, to ensure optimum comfort and style.
Electric golf carts are gaining rapid traction in recent years across the sport, especially considering the intensifying focus on zero-carbon emission and pollution mitigation. Since electric golf buggies need relatively lower operational costs and maintenance, they are gaining preference over their gas-powered counterparts.
A notable example of this growth is DSG Global, Inc.’s signing of a new lease agreement for the establishment of its first manufacturing facility in North America, which will allow the firm to produce its electrically-powered Single Rider Pacer Golf Cart for Vantage Tag Systems, as well as other vehicle models and types for the EV industry. The Pacer golf cart, launched first in 2020, is also designed to comply with social distancing protocols during gameplay by accommodating individual players, in turn reducing the risk of contamination or germ spread.
From the humble caddy-drawn Beecher Rickshaw in 1932, to the modern technology-charged models of the present, the golf cart industry has witnessed monumental expansion and achieved several milestones over the years. With the utility of these vehicles, both on and off the golf course, gaining increasing recognition worldwide, electric and solar-powered golf carts are set to establish themselves as a key part of sustainable mobility over the foreseeable future.