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Using Electric Utility Carts for Transportation on the UM Campus

Posted on: January 3rd, 2013 by RONALD SAVELL

Utility Carts vs. Campus Vans

In November 2001, The Office of Information Technology (IT) purchased its first utility cart. IT was one of the first groups to have carts on the main campus.  The campus was growing and streets were closing, making it almost impossible to continue using our vans for access.  Due to the increasing difficulty in getting around campus to make deliveries and pick-ups of equipment, IT opted for a utility cart.

Once we started using the carts for on-campus needs, it became evident that a utility cart size allows for easier access to campus buildings due to the smaller size. Currently, the utility cart population on campus is approximately 250.  While the majority of carts on campus are still gasoline powered, the number of electric powered carts is increasing as gasoline carts are taken out of service.

Electric or Gas Utility Carts?

In 2012, IT purchased the first electric utility cart for our department through our area Club Car distributor, Ladd’s in Memphis, TN.  Based on our testing, both gasoline and electric carts operate in a similar fashion.  For example, both will operate at a top speed of 15 mph.  In areas such as payload, comfort and performance, there are no significant differences.   However, two noticeable improvements to the drivers of the electric powered cart are the lack of gasoline fumes inside the cab and the quiet ride.

Regarding the purchase price, the cost of an electric powered cart was approximately $200 more than a gasoline powered cart with similar specifications.   When comparing ongoing fuel costs, there are the routine gas fill-ups and oil changes for the gasoline utility carts. For the electric powered cart, the fuel expense comes down to the daily power recharge through a standard wall power outlet (110) and replacing the batteries every five years. Holding all fuel charges constant, we don’t see a significant cost difference over a five year period.

Electric Utility Cart Battery Maintenance

Battery maintenance is actually very simple.  Just check the water levels in the batteries and add distilled water every month as needed. In addition to checking the water levels, we recommend charging the electric cart daily. The cart will come with a charge cable that plugs into a standard wall power outlet (110).

Performing battery maintenance monthly and charging the batteries daily should extend the battery life to approximately five years.   Neglecting to provide proper battery maintenance may decrease the life by up to two years.

Further Information

If you have more questions about our experience with purchasing and using an electric utility cart, please contact Ron Savell at Ron can also connect you with our area distributor, Ladd’s in Memphis.

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