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In this blog we will outline differences between Low-Speed Vehicles (LSVs) and Golf Carts. But first, let’s consider the few commonalities: LSVs and Golf Carts are both compact vehicles that haul people at a slower rate of speed than other forms of transportation, such as automobiles, vans, and trucks. To the uninitiated, LSVs and Golf Carts may look similar. But as you read on, you will become aware LSVs have many more features that make them more robust, safer, and versatile than Golf Carts. 

Before we highlight the differences, perhaps a brief background on how LSVs came into existence would be helpful. 

Back in the early 1990s, a team of automotive design engineers formed a company named Global Electric Motorcars and designed an electric vehicle called the GEM car. In response to the introduction of this unique new vehicle, the National Highway Transportation Safety Agency (NHTSA) created a new motor vehicle classification designated as the Low-Speed Vehicle (LSV) and required manufacturers to equip them with safety belts, safety glass, head lamps and wipers. Unlike Golf Carts, LSVs would be street legal on certain public roads. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) classifies Low-Speed Vehicles as “4-wheeled motor vehicles, whose speed, attainable in 1 mile, is more than 20 miles per hour and not more than 25 miles per hour, on a paved level surface.” Unlike Golf Carts, the NHTSA requires that all LSVs be equipped with the following standard features, many of which are similar to those required for automobiles: 

·         Headlights, front, and rear turn signals

·         Taillights, and stop lights

·         Rear red reflectors on each side

·         Mirrors – external (driver’s side); and either external or internal (passenger’s side)

·         Reverse camera in rear view mirror

·         “White Noise” emitter to aid pedestrian awareness

·         Parking brake

·         DOT-approved windshield and tires

·         Commercial-grade brakes

·         A Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)

·         Seatbelt Assembly – 3.3-point seatbelts installed at every seat position

·         All seats face forward

·         Horn

·         Rollbar cage / Occupant Protection System (that is roof crush certified) 

Most states allow LSVs (but not Golf Carts) to be driven on roads with a posted speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less. When LSVs are operated on public roads they must be equipped with an odometer and speedometer. Operators must possess a valid driver’s license, title, registration, license plate(s), and insurance. 

While LSVs are exempt from state inspection requirements, owners are still responsible for keeping their vehicles in safe and good-working condition. Eastern Lift Truck Co. is available to assist in this regard, with quality parts and factory-trained and supported service. 

GEM’s success over the past few decades has bred competition and imitation, and in recent years, interest in reducing tailpipe emissions has boosted the popularity of electric vehicles, including LSVs. 

GEM is now owned by Waev, Inc., the same company that owns and manufactures Taylor-Dunn and Tiger industrial vehicles and continues to be the LSV market leader. With more than 50,000 units produced, GEM offers a full range of consumer and commercial vehicles, ranging from fun, sporty, 2-seaters to larger shuttles and commercial-grade pickup style vehicles. 

The GEM LSV is quiet, simple to operate, dependable and useful. These small electric vehicles are a safer and more sustainable alternative to operating traditional gasoline-powered trucks or vans. They take up less space and are safer to operate around pedestrians. 

GEM LSVs run up to eight hours or more on a single charge and may be used in a variety of recreational or commercial settings. They may be customized as a utility truck, with a flatbed or outfitted with a secure box and used for facility maintenance. The GEM eL XD model utility vehicle work truck is able to carry two passengers, a 1,400-pound payload and tow 1,250 pounds, all with zero emissions. Golf Carts do not offer these types of features. 

LSVs are also excellent shuttles and GEM offers models to transport 2, 4 or 6 people at a time. LSVs offer an alternative form of transportation to walking, biking, or using a car, and allows people to easily get around their local community or to run errands. You will find GEM and other Low-Speed Vehicles in operation in neighborhoods, senior communities, transporting tourists around shore towns, moving people in dense urban centers, and shuttling people around college and business campuses. 

Eastern Lift Truck Co. is an authorized GEM dealer. Our Utility & Low-speed Vehicle Solutions team stocks and sells GEM vehicles to three main markets: consumer/recreational, educational/commercial, and urban mobility. Each GEM LSV we sell is highly customizable and equipped with safety features approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation. 

Municipalities, governmental agencies, colleges, universities, and the hospitality industry are all promoting LSV electric mobility solutions. Industry projections indicate over the next five years this market will grow to 14.4 billion dollars. 

Contact the Utility and Low-speed Vehicle Solutions team at Eastern Lift and ask an Account Manager for information on a GEM LSV to match your needs.

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