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07.17.12
Gas v.s. Electric Go Karts
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With the growth of indoor karting facilities in the US there has been a recent trend of many tracks choosing electric karts.  Both electric and gas powered karts have their advantages and disadvantages.  Below is a breakdown of the Pros for each.

Gas Powered Karts Pros:

  • Responsive Handling due to a lighter weight vehicle
  • Longer race life.  Gas powered karts can run over 3hrs with a tank of gas
  • Stronger competition kart due to responsiveness and race life.
  • Less karts required.  Charging time requires 30% more karts.
  • Cheaper maintenance.  To properly maintain an electric kart a qualified electrician should be used.  Batteries are a major expense.
  • Lower utility costs.  Controlling track air temp can range from $10,000-$30,000 per month depending upon size of facility and climate.
  • Less expensive vehicle

Electric Kart Pros:

  • No fumes
  • Temperature controlled environment
  • Remote control for power.  Can tune down aggressive drivers.
  • Easy maintenance.  Computer adjusted power output to regulate even kart performance.
  • Cheaper insurance?  I have seen this posted on a manufacturer’s website but this is news to me.  That is not the case in our experience.

Kart life is debatable.  Depending upon flagging, track layout, barrier system and maintenance these issues have too many variables to compare.  Also, the kart manufacturer can be a big difference in kart life.  The bumper system and chassis technology are vital for a top of the line vehicle.

The emergence of the major players in the market such as Pole Position and K1 Speed have done a fantastic job of marketing the karting industry.  Through such strong efforts it has made the electric karts appear to be the favorable product. Based upon my research it appears that currently is not the case.  The expense of running such an operation through Heating & Air Conditioning expenses as well as the cost of the karts and their level of performance seem to lead favorably towards gas vehicles.

The new lithium  batteries could be the future, as the technology becomes more stable and tested.  The new battery will provide a lighter solution to the vehicle which would provide better handling and acceleration.  The battery will also provide a better life for the charge therefore increasing race length.  This would combat the major advantages of the gas karts.  The current batteries used only hold 2,000 charges for 8 minute races.  The cost of a set of batteries for a kart can be $500 plus.

The future looks to be heading towards the electric go kart but until the technology improves it is hard to argue against the gas vehicle.  It is also interesting to witness the fact that this electric kart trend is more heavily influenced in the US versus Europe (the mecca of karting).  In the end you must do right by your customer and choose the solution that you fill best serves the racing experience!

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