“Why would you bother to haul a huge car around everyday, especially if you don’t feel comfortable operating it anymore, when you have this other option?” asks Hannah Twaddell, a planner at the Virginia consultancy ICF International, who has studied the trend.
The vehicles’ appeal is evident beyond retirement communities. In beach towns and other compact tourist enclaves, already accustomed to a mix of transportation modes, NEVs can do a car’s job with ease. “They’re kind of like the iPad, between the iPhone and the laptop,” Twaddell says. “It’s this medium-sized tool that’s incredibly flexible.”
South of Atlanta, suburban Peachtree City now has 11,000 golf carts for 13,000 households. “It’s almost our alternate transportation system here,” says Betsy Tyler, the city clerk. Between 1995 and 2010, dozens of surrounding subdivisions authorized golf-cart use on city streets.