GREEN A LA CART: 'PIMPED OUT' GOLF BUGGY SAVES BIG ON FUEL BILL
When filling up his Ford F-150 pickup and Ford Explorer got too expensive two years ago, John Auld of Grosse Pointe Park began searching for a new way to get around town. He found it last winter in a seven-year-old golf cart he bought from a local course.
The former mechanical engineer turned computer software salesman rigged it with headlights, windshield wipers, turn signals, seat belts and other devices to render it street legal. And for the past couple of months, he and his wife, Candace, have been taking it to the neighborhood grocery store, park and restaurants, often with their three children, saving about $100 a month in gas. The cart cruises at a top speed of 25 miles per hour and can be legally driven on streets where the speed limit is 35 mph or slower. It is powered by an electric battery that, when fully charged, is good for 30 miles.
The cost to recharge it - 50 cents -- is a far cry from the $80 it took to fill up the family's truck or SUV. "It's annoying driving an F-150," he said. "I love it for when I'm using it for work. But when you're just taking it around town, it's not practical."
The cart, he said, is not only cheaper but fun to drive too. Now he's making plans to furnish similarly "pimped out" carts to others who want to cut their gasoline bills. Auld is working with a golf cart manufacturer to make and sell the street-legal vehicles to the public, starting next month.
High gas prices hovering at $4 a gallon are driving thousands of Americans to alternative forms of transportation. Sales of fuel-efficient motorcycles, scooters and bicycles - especially affordable used ones -- are climbing, store owners report. Repair service and accessories also are in demand. Auld, 35, started researching the feasibility of driving a golf cart on streets two years ago. It took him two months, at nights and on weekends when he wasn't working in his home office, to put it all together. The cart has attracted quite a few stares, comments and questions since Auld began driving it on the streets this spring. Already, a few neighbors and local business owners who provider delivery service are interested in getting their own.
Auld is still finalizing the details of the agreement with a golf cart manufacturer that will supply the carts, and was hesitant to share too much information, but he said he will help people customize their carts with sound systems and other extras. A basic street-legal golf cart will cost about $5,000 but can cost upward of $10,000 with all the bells and whistles.
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Reprinted from www.detnews.com June 24, 2008