The worldwide market for golf carts and neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) is growing at a steady yet rapid pace and is expected to continue at this rate through 2020, according to a comprehensive, 69-page research report issued in 2015 titled “Golf Cart and NEV Market – Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast.”
The report indicates the golf cart and NEV market will experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.6 percent from 2014 to 2020. In 2013, golf cart sales were at $1.79 billion, and by 2020, sales are expected to be about $2.81 billion.
The primary reason for this extraordinary market growth lies with the increased demand for efficient, electric vehicles, especially when it comes to low-speed commutes over short distances. However, NEV and golf cart sales are also being helped by government regulations and incentives aimed at reducing pollution through the adoption of vehicles powered by electricity rather than petroleum distillates.
Other influences on low-speed vehicle (LSV) market growth are the golf cart industry’s willingness to adopt all of the latest technologies related to this unique class of vehicle and an increase in disposable income among individuals and families in both developing and developed countries around the world.
Although the future looks bright for the golf cart market, several obstacles still face the industry, including a slump in the popularity of golf as a sport and a lack of infrastructure that supports the safe operation of golf carts and NEVs in urban and rural settings.
Global Demand on the Rise
Consumers in countries around the world increasingly desire electric vehicles with small footprints and eco-friendly features, which is stimulating the LSV market. This partially stems from wanting to protect the environment and curb the emission of greenhouse gasses, but the demand is also spurred by the knowledge that alternate fuels can be less expensive than petroleum-based fuels.
In the developed world, which includes North America, Europe, Australia, Japan and several other countries of the Asia Pacific, people have been demonstrating a willingness to adopt green lifestyles and buy eco-friendly products since the early 2010s. The average amount of disposable income in these countries is already high, so price-related barriers are minimized. In these areas, the primary applications for golf carts are golf courses, residential campuses, commercial businesses, short-distance commutes, entertainment parks and security patrols.
In developing countries, such as China, India, Brazil and Indonesia, the increased demand for golf carts is a more recent phenomenon, but now that it has begun, the momentum will carry over through 2020 and beyond. In these areas, the golf cart industry is focusing on improving its products through the implementation of new technological advancements that not only increase efficiency and reduce pollution but also customize the vehicles for specific venues, such as golf courses, hotels and real estate. Even though market growth is significantly hampered in developing countries because of a lack of local infrastructure, the report states that the impact will decrease to an extremely low level by the end of the forecast period.
Additional Insight into Golf Carts and NEVs
Electric vehicles are growing in popularity mostly because they operate solely on rechargeable batteries and do not need liquid or gaseous fossil fuels, which are necessary for traditional vehicles with internal-combustion engines. As consumers around the world begin to adopt electric plug-in vehicles, golf carts were identified for their ability to transport people and cargo short distances efficiently and economically without generating harmful emissions. In addition, these vehicles often perform more smoothly than traditional automobiles do, and they require less maintenance.
For the most part, NEVs and golf carts are driven for only short distances, and regulations in most countries limit them to low speeds. The maximum range and speed of a particular LSV varies and is determined by the number and type of batteries and the size of the electric motor.
One of the drawbacks of plug-in electric vehicles is that they are more expensive than their petroleum-powered counterparts are. The only people who are able to afford them at this time are those who are financially secure and have the luxury of living their conscience. However, LSVs fill the gap by offering the same environmental and operating benefits at a lower price point, which makes them very attractive to anyone who can live with their limited functionality.
Although gasoline-powered golf carts are still available, they have fallen out of favor because they are loud and still contribute to global warming. Golf courses have also stopped using them, noting the noxious, foul-smelling fumes they emit disturb the guests. In fact, the report shows that electric golf carts now account for more than 50 percent of the market, and this ratio is expected to widen each year for the foreseeable future, particularly in the U.S., Canada, France, Germany and Japan.