Why are golf carts so expensive?

Most of us like simple answers. If your basic mantra is don’t make me think too hard, you may be disappointed with my lengthy answer to this question.

If you want to understand why golf carts are so expensive, you need to consider the following factors:

  1. The limited number of golf car manufacturing companies
  2. The cost of quality parts
  3. The purpose of the golf cart (plus safety features and upgrades)
  4. Supply and demand
  5. Shipping costs

When you add these 5 factors together, you often end up with a sticker price that seems higher than it should be. I’m speaking from firsthand experience. Once upon a time, I wanted to buy a new golf cart — then I saw the golf cart dealer price tag. Yikes!

In the end, I opted to restore an old Club Car golf cart instead (more on that later).

Factor #1 – The Limited Number of Golf Cart Manufacturers

If there were only 3 restaurants in the world capable of baking a pizza, those restaurants would have the luxury of selling pizza at a higher price.

And who could blame them?

If they put in all the groundwork developing the perfect dough, optimizing the best pizza oven, and crafting that perfect balance of sauce and cheese, they would have the right to profit from their research and development.

…Man, I could go for some pizza right now.

Golf cart manufacturers are few and far between. They are, for the sake of my example, one of the 3 restaurants that can make a pizza.

List of Golf Cart Manufacturers

The pool of golf cart manufacturers is rather small. In fact, there are 3 companies that have a solid hold on the market. That list includes:

  • Club Car
  • E-Z-Go
  • Yamaha

There are a few smaller (and newer) players which include:

  • Evolution
  • Polaris
  • Star EV
  • American Custom Golf Carts (ACG)
  • Garia
  • Tomberlin

So how does this factor make a golf cart more expensive?

The industry doesn’t have a monopoly, per se, but with only 3 major players to choose from, consumers can expect higher prices. Yamaha isn’t going to sell a $30,000 golf cart if E-Z-Go sells a comparable cart for a $1,000.

Each company keeps the other company’s pricing in check, both in a good way and a bad way. If there were 20 major players to choose from, the would be more variety in the pricing, but since there’s only 3, golf cart pricing ends up being pretty similar.

If my original pizza analogy didn’t work, the automobile industry may serve as a better example.

Why is there such a big difference between the price of a Ferrari and a Kia? Well, for starters, there are way more automobile manufacturers to choose from. They are not all beholden to each other price-wise, and they don’t all appeal to the same consumer (unlike golf carts which have a more restricted base of customers).

Factor #2 – The Cost of Quality Parts

One thing is for sure: Gas golf carts and electric golf carts get put to the test.

I’ve seen enough dumb golf cart pranks and bad golf course drivers to know this is true.

Carts get used at the local country club, at campgrounds, on public roads, in airports and at other events where there is dirt, rocks, water and corrosive materials.

So what’s my point?

If a manufacturer skimps on the quality of their materials, a golf cart will start to fall apart rather quickly.

There is a reason why I’ve been riding the same Trek Mountain Bike for 15 years, but my son’s bike is already falling apart after less than 2 years of use.

One bike manufacturer sources its parts very carefully, which leads to a higher initial price. The other bike manufacturer is able to put out a much cheaper product, but they use lower quality materials that don’t hold up very long.

Sloan Whitaker, one of the owners of BA Carts, had this to say:

Golf carts and golf cart parts just like anything else…you get what you pay for.

And if we’re talking about the cost of electric carts, one needs to factor cost of the golf cart batteries into the equation. This is why we often get asked “Can you replace one battery on a golf cart?” Consumers know replacing a set of 6 golf cart batteries can cost over $1,000.

Manufacturers have to cover that cost too. Each golf cart battery factors into that price you see at you local golf cart dealer.

So how does this factor make a golf cart more expensive?

Companies that care about their reputation in the industry have to work with high quality parts. This means construction isn’t cheap and good golf carts cost more than one might expect.

Factor #3 – The Purpose of the Golf Cart

Why are golf carts so expensive?
Golf course carts aren’t nearly as expensive as modified or street legal carts.

Not all carts are created equal or for the same purpose.

If a municipal golf course is looking to purchase or lease a new fleet, they can choose from a basic gas golf cart or an electric golf car, but they don’t need a host of fancy upgrades. This keeps the golf cart prices relatively low because they are buying in bulk and don’t need a bunch of accessories. These courses just need a vehicle that can take golfers from the fairway to the rough as they look for their golf ball.

The purpose of a golf course fleet is very different from the goals of a consumer looking to purchase a street legal golf cart. In many states, these carts require special upgrades to be road-worthy. Seat belts, brake lights, turn signals, etc all add to the final golf cart cost. For safety reasons, a street legal golf cart will cost more.

Then there’s the custom golf cart market. These dealers start with a Yamaha golf cart or a Club Car Onward. By the time they’re finished, these carts have a lift kit, larger tires, sweet wheels, leather seats, beverage coolers and a sound system. The companies that do this type of custom work are in it to make a profit as well, so the price range can vary drastically.

It’s safe to say that a luxury golf cart will have a different sticker price than what your local golf club paid for their standard fleet.

So how does this factor make a golf cart more expensive?

Unless you’re buying a basic, run-of-the-mill, no-frills cart, there are extra costs incurred by the manufacturer or dealer to prep your cart for a more specific use. Those extra upgrades and options get tacked onto your final price.

Factor #4 – Supply & Demand

I took micro and macroeconomics as an undergrad. I could take the time to write a semi-educated piece on supply and demand, but I won’t put you through that.

Suffice it to say, there is a major demand for golf carts right now and there is a limited supply.

You know what that means? High prices!

Both the gas cart and the electric cart are here to stay, and the global pandemic of 2021-2022 led to an even-greater discrepancy between consumer demand and the number of golf carts available for purchase.

As long as the market stays hot, new carts are going to cost a pretty penny.

If you’re on a tight budget and keep asking yourself “why are golf carts so expensive,” I don’t have any great news for you.

Your best bet may be to find an old electric golf cart on Facebook or Craigslist. Electric ones tend to be cheaper because they need new batteries. You can do many of the upgrades yourself if you have basic skills and consult a reliable golf cart resource.

A used gas powered cart might be an option as well, but older gas powered golf carts can require some extra attention if they’ve been sitting for a long time.

Factor #5 – Shipping Costs

Whether you’re looking to buy new or order a used custom cart from an online dealership, it’s going to cost money to get that cart to you.

Transport costs on an open or enclosed trailer start at a few hundred dollars and may venture over $1,000 depending on distance.

Manufacturers pay these costs to ship golf carts to their dealerships, and dealerships pass these costs on to you. There aren’t any great ways to avoid shipping costs, it’s just a reality in this particular industry.

Golf Cart Pricing FAQ

Will golf cart prices every do down?

Based on all of the factors we just discussed, it doesn’t seem likely. Demand is high and supply is limited. Quality parts and materials come at a price.

Why are golf cars as expensive as actual cars?

If you’re finding golf cars that are as expensive as actual cars, it may have to do with all of the fancy upgrades. Lifts, rear seats, sound systems, tires, wheels and other performance upgrades can drive up the value of a golf cart rather quickly.

Why are gas golf carts more expensive than electric?

Used gas golf carts are often (but not always) more expensive than electric because fewer gas golf carts are returned to the dealer as trade-ins. Electric golf carts on the used market are often cheaper because they need new batteries (which is a $1,000 investment).

How much does it cost to replace the batteries in a golf cart?

It typically costs between $600-$1,000 to replace all the batteries in a golf cart.

What are the current golf cart price ranges?

Golf Cart Resource does a good job of highlighting pricing trends in the golf cart industry. Here are some highlights (based on 2021 data):

  • Club Car Prices ($2,995 on the low end to $18,804 new)
  • E-Z-Go Golf Prices ($3,800 on the low end to $18,269 new)
  • Yamaha Golf Cart Prices ($3,495 on the low end to $17,995 new)

At this point, I hope I’ve given a thorough answer to the “why are golf carts so expensive question.” If you have additional questions, please post them in the comments below.

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