Industrial Vehicles Vs. Golf Carts.  which Is Best?

Industrial Vehicles vs. Golf Carts.  Which is best?

Golf Carts and Industrial vehicles serve many purposes, and are similar in some respects but very different in other ways.  There are several topics and sub-topics to consider before deciding which type of vehicle to purchase.  With proper research, the final decision will provide years of cost-effective use.  Let’s assume this is a industrial or commercial application rather than a vehicle for golf usage.

 Industrial Vehicles Vs. Golf Carts.  which Is Best? Industrial Vehicles Vs. Golf Carts.  which Is Best?

Intended purpose:

Think about the type of application:

  1. Occasional/light duty vs. routine heavy duty use?
  2. Operator type – Careful and courteous or not?
  3. Weight capacity needed?
  4.  On or off-road use?
  5. Travel distance requirements per day/week?
  6. Terrain type – flat or hilly, and surface type?
  7. Available gas or electrical supply (voltage requirements for recharging electric units)?
  8. Sound – are hotel guests or classrooms nearby making noisier gas powered units less desirable?
  9. Is the vehicle single purpose or will it need to “multi-task”?  Example: Transport people and cargo.
  10. Size constraints – are there tight spaces to consider or obstacles to be avoided?
  11. Is street licensing required for use on public roads?  Only LSV designated vehicle are street legal.

Vehicle Types:  Industrial vehicle manufacturers offer a wide array of vehicle designs including 3 wheel and 4 wheel.  Size and shape, seating arrangements, and accessories should be considered.  Manufacturers such as Taylor-Dunn and GEM offer amazing purpose-built vehicles which can be further modified to suit a specific application. Reputable Dealers offer professional “on site” consultation to help guide the buyer to the correct vehicle and can provide valuable information based on the specific needs of each buyer.  Factory websites can provide a wealth of information (including photos and videos) to consider prior to a purchase.



There is no rule with regard to pricing but it is wise to obtain a price quote from a reliable dealer to compare a purpose built Industrial Vehicle to a “off the shelf” golf cart which has been adapted to serve another purpose.  There are many industries that cater to the customization of standard golf cars, allowing the original purpose to be altered but this may or may not be the best investment.  For light duty applications, a golf cart may be fine but in heavy duty applications, there are other important considerations such as suspension strength, wheel base/track width, axle strength/braking capacity (especially with a heavy load and under steep terrain conditions. 

New vs. Used:

There are many variables which will drive the cost of an Industrial Vehicle or Golf cart.  The three main factors are age, model, and condition.  Used vehicles can be a great way to save money however it is wise to closely inspect the vehicle prior to purchase.  Check for mechanical and body condition as these can be costly repairs down the road.  Does the vehicle start, stop, and steer smoothly and accurately?  Are there signs of collision, rust or corrosion?  While Items such worn tires and seats are less expensive to repair, they can also provide clues to the prior type of use.  Batteries in electric vehicles or the engine in a gas powered cart, are also expensive repairs if they have been used excessively or improperly maintained.  Be sure to do your homework.  Used batteries may look great on the outside but will not have the original capacity (or run time).   Batteries over three years old are past their prime so upcoming replacement costs should be factored in.  Older used industrial vehicles may have had a hard life so approach them with caution.  Also ask the selling dealer if there is a warranty, what is or isn’t covered, and for what length of time.  If no warranty is offered, it’s buyer beware.  Also consider the reputation of the seller and the length of time they have been in business. New equipment will have a factory warranty with a “bumper-to-bumper” coverage for a specified period of time.  This will provide peace of mind.

Weather protection: 

There is no substitute for an OEM factory designed steel or fiberglass cab which is intended to mount to a specific vehicle made by the same manufacturer.  They are not necessarily more expensive.  Conversely, aftermarket cabs (in either hard or soft material design can be less expensive in terms of the upfront purchase price but the cost savings are generally offset to some degree by the installation time required.   The fit and finish should also be considered.  The soft material designs are not as durable as a fiberglass or steel cabs but are lighter.  Factory cabs have higher structural integrity and can also support roof racks for additional storage.



New Taylor Dunn Industrial Vehicles and GEM Golf Carts are likely to be in inventory at a local dealer, at least the most popular models.  Custom built vehicles generally take 60-90 days to be manufactured but it may be worth the wait.  Plan ahead and consider your long-term needs.  Used Industrial Vehicles are harder to find than Golf Carts and are more expensive but do not purchase a vehicle just because its “in stock”.  Safety should also be considered especially in a hilly application.  Many manufacturers offer front and rear brake systems along with AC electric motors with regenerative braking on newer models.   This greatly enhances safety and vehicle control. 


We hope these pointers are helpful in making your Industrial Vehicle decision.


David Mills

Regional Sales Manager

Toyota Material Handling

Northern California

31010 San Antonio St.

Hayward, CA 94544

Mobile: (510) 604-6175

Office:  (510) 675-1115