Gas and Diesel powered Utility Vehicles have proven to be popular for a wide variety of reasons. Chief among them is the word “Utility.” They can do more jobs with less effort than u almost any other vehicle. On farms, parks, landscaped grounds, estates, and hunting people have found the versatility and ease of use compelling reasons to buy UTVs or Side-by-Side Utility Vehicles. Today, vehicles like the Kawasaki Mule, Kubota RTV, and John Deere Gator have become accepted work tools.
So, why would anyone want to change from a proven technology to buy a utility vehicle that is electric powered?
Here are my top five reasons. Please feel free to add to the list
1. Running cost – If you use dollars per mile as your measure, the average gas UTV, like a Kawasaki Mule 4010 4X4, uses about one gallon of fuel to go 25 miles. A Stealth Electric 4X4 uses about 80% of a charge to go 25 miles. A full charge uses about 8 KwHr of electricity. Let’s look at costs in Chicago. At $0.15 per KwHr, that’s $1.20. With gas at $4.30 it costs you about 4 times as much to go 25 miles. Every area is different, but I can’t find any place (Mexico?) where the cost is favorable for gas or diesel vehicles as to electric.
2. Maintenance cost – With no spark plus, no carburetor, no engine oil, filters, no valve adjustments, etc., maintenance costs are almost zero on electric utility vehicles. It is estimated that a gas UTV will have one oil change (minimum), a tune up, an air filter exchange, spark plug replacement, and possibly a transmission flush and belt or chain replacement each year. The cost of those items can be $250 to $500 each year. Especially with all the bad fuel and the ethanol added to fuel today, engine life is poor and carburetor life very poor. Though battery replacement can be in the range of $1,000, if properly maintained (water checked/filled monthly) you can expect a minimum of 5 years and more likely 7 years between battery exchanges, about the same as carburetor replacement and nearly as long as between engine overhaul or replacement.
3. Quiet – Ever try talking to your passenger in a gas or diesel UTV? It’s not very easy. In fact many responsible operators wear ear protection when driving or riding in a UTV. You can hear what is going on around you. That enhances safety and the enjoyment of your surroundings. This is a critical feature for hunters, groundskeepers, and maintenance personnel at hospitals and senior centers. I have not yet found the detail on most of the gas and diesel UTVs, but from what I have seen, they range from 85 to 95 decibels. According to OSHA, workers are limited to between 85 and 90 decibels before ear protection is required.
4. Odor Free – Try driving from the vineyard into the winery in a stinky gas or diesel rig some day. I can guarantee the reception would not be a warm one. Just sitting in a gas or diesel UTV at idle can make you sick. Gators even have a safety warning label to that effect.
5. Variety of Fuel Sources – One of the key features of electricity is that it can be generated by a very wide variety of sources – gas, diesel, nuclear, propane, wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, coal, biomass, and hydro (did I miss any?). That means if there is a shortage of gas or diesel, you are not waiting in line at the station for your allocation of 5 gallons. If you remember the gas shortages of the 70s, you understand. It also means that if oil prices rise, electricity can be produced by lower cost fuels. The chances of stable electricity prices are far greater than the chances of stable gas or diesel prices.
Please let us know your favorite reason “Why Electric?”