Solar Roofs on Electric Golf Carts

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When Mark Twain quipped, “Golf is a good walk spoiled,” golf coursesdidn’t have luxurious golf courses with daily manicured grounds,sprinkler systems or golf carts, nor did they have solar-powered golfcarts. But the times they are a changin. Solar Carts, LLC, will offerits Sun Eagle, a photovoltaic golf cart rooftop retrofit service, for$999.99 starting on June 1.

The Sun Eagle uses a 210-watt photovoltaic panel that provides charging power to the vehicle’s batteries. It extends the driving range of the golf cart beyond what conventional charging can do and can help reduce electric costs.

This will be the company’s first offering.

“We’re trying to build the market for this in Florida to start,” said Jon LoBello, the company’s executive vice president. The deal, whichends on July 15, will only be offered in Florida and only to SolarCarts’ first 100 customers. “That’s kind of our limit right now. We’ll decideif we want to extend the special after that, maybe even go outside ofFlorida.”

There are other solar rooftop golf cart services or retrofits, according to LoBello. But they’re more costly.

“There are products that range from $2,500 to $1,800,” he said. Yetanother manufacturer, Cruise Car, Inc. makes a solar-powered golf cartthat costs about $9,000.

LoBello thinks Solar Carts’ price point will make its optionattractive. “There’s a great deal of interest, but it comes down toprice,” he said.

Owners of a Sun Eagle system may also qualify for the solar tax credit, according to LoBello.

“There’s a 30 percent tax credit really for someone who’s buying acomplete system, a solar top and new batteries,” he said. There aren’treally any incentives that cater particularly to solar-powered golfcarts, however.

Florida has a lot of facilities that could use golf carts. Theseinclude golf courses, resorts, retirement communities—like The Villages, and private owners, according to LoBello.

“The Villages is an adult active community. It’s very common to drive golf carts throughout the community instead of cars. It’s definitely agood market,” he said.

Right now the company is taking orders and deposits. Once it startsreceiving the deposits, it will start building the systems. What theprice will be after the sale is over remains to be determined.

“We’re not sure yet. We’ll see how this goes and then figure it outafter that. We want to see how receptive people are at the $999 price,”LoBello said.

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