Electric Golf Carts as a Retreat ATV Option

A good friend put a lift kit on an electric golf cart. It will go anywhere a 4-wheeler [all terrain vehicle (ATV)] will go; it is drop dead silent; and will go about 24 mph without alterations. I got to thinking: Why not retrofit a PV charging cell on the golf cart’s roof to trickle charge the batteries. An engineer buddy told me that it was very feasible to accomplish this with the additional thought that a redundant solar charger at ‘base’ would increase the time needed to maintain a full charge. I believe that such a unit would be quite popular when the pumps don’t work and the teller machines are ‘down for service’. – Matt, Somewhere South of KY

JWR Replies: Arrrrgh! You beat me to the punch on an article that I had planned to post in SurvivalBlog. Here is my input on the subject, in brief: Electric golf carts have limited range, but are indeed very quiet. You should consider that most gas powered golf carts are much quieter than a comparable-size ATV. If you don’t plan to go more than a few miles, then get an electric cart. Lift kits are indeed available for retrofit for three popular brands of electric carts: Ez-Go, Club Car, and Yamaha. You can even get brush guards and other ATV-esque accessories for golf carts. Photovoltaic (PV) battery charging panels and charge controllers are available for retrofitting a golf cart, from Internet vendors like Ready Made Resources. (A charge controller is a must on any system with more than just one small trickle charging panel. Otherwise you will overcharge and badly “cook” your batteries.) OBTW, there are also PV panels that are factory original equipment on electric carts like the Cruise Car Sunray. (Here is another page on the same cart.)

To make your cart-cum-ATV at least quasi-tactical, I’d recommend that you paint your cart in a flat earth tone color. (You can add a “flattener” to the mix of a normally glossy or semi-gloss paint that you put though a paint spray gun.) You should also keep the materials handy to spray paint, or Bowflage paint, or camo tape over any chrome parts, if and when things get Schumeresque. (Bowflage paint seems to be best for reducing IR signature.) For both off-road flexibility –where you might encounter low overhanging tree branches– and possible tactical use, you should make your canopy (with PV panels) quickly detachable, with lock washers and wing nuts or similar mounting hardware.