Golf carts have almost no regulations. LSVs may have minimal regulation, but they exist. And that`s the main difference, in addition to the fact that most golf carts struggle to reach 20 miles per hour, while a LSV can go up to 25 miles per hour. Sometimes you`ll see golf carts advertised as legal models for the street, but they`re actually LSVs. They have gone through the production certification process and have DOT-approved parts such as seat belts and windshields. Interestingly, however, most “road-legal” golf carts are no longer allowed to drive because they do not include rearview cameras and noisemakers, which have been mandatory in LSVs for a few years, but this is likely to change as manufacturers slowly revert to current laws. So, do LSVs look like golf carts? Yes. But are they golf carts? No. They are something between a golf cart and a car, but do not fit into either class, neither legally nor functionally.

There are basic safety requirements, such as manufacturing in NHTSA-registered factories and some DOT-certified safety equipment such as specific windshield windows, rearview cameras, manufacturers of pedestrian warning noise for electric vehicles, and seat belts. But there are no crash tests. No light test. No braking test. Not much testing at all. As long as they meet basic production and certification requirements and travel at maximum speeds between 20 and 25 miles per hour, they are rather golden. (This is also why imported Chang Li vehicles and other Chinese mini-electric vehicles are almost never allowed to drive in the U.S., as they cannot meet these DOT and NHTSA certification requirements.) Golf carts are also not legal on the street, at least officially. They are illegal on public roads in the United States unless a state or city local ordinance specifically created an exemption for them, which is sometimes the case in coastal or Gulf communities. Many authorities turn a blind eye because there are more important things than driving a mother driving her child on a golf cart to a friend`s house on the other side of the subdivision. But technically, this mother is committing an offence.

LSVs, on the other hand, are road legal for these purposes (as long as the road is marked with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less). But Todd Rome, CEO and founder of Moke America, said it`s the real deal and they are assembled for each customer at the company`s factory in Sarasota, Florida. Apparently, under federal LSV laws, small vehicles are even allowed on most U.S. roads with a speed limit of up to 35 mph (56 km/h), as outlined in LSV laws in the United States. Moke America`s vehicles, simply called “mokes,” offer a top speed of 25 mph (40 km/h) from their 7.5 kW and 15 kW premium continuous engines. It also has leather interior upgrades, hidden AM/FM CD players, a hardtop to protect you from the sun, and even full multimedia systems, including DVD players and folding monitors. The only catch is that they`re not really electric cars. And they certainly look fun, although if you can believe the marketing video below, it seems that the most common customers are blonde women who go to their yoga classes. Slowly but surely, more and more options are emerging in the U.S. from dealers who want to offer a full-fledged alternative to electric cars.

But if you`re cool with a basic model to wear you and three friends in style, you can do it for just $21,975. Well, plus a 3% shipping fee. And additional shipping costs. And of course, the 4% credit card fee. Seriously, this class of vehicle actually has a real utility in the right place. While a 25mph vehicle won`t help you much on your highway commute, there are other key markets in the U.S. where slower, simpler electric vehicles could be very helpful. City dwellers living in crowded urban areas, coastal and island communities, gated neighborhoods, and sprawling suburbs are key markets for LSVs. This is one of the most common questions I get asked when reporting on LSV. And the answer is, “No, not really.” LSVs now represent a small number of four-wheeled vehicles on the road. They are a drop in the ocean.

But this decline is growing. According to Rome, the company has sold more than 4,000 mokés since its inception in 2016 and has generated more than $100 million in revenue (though it`s unclear whether this applies only to the U.S. or all international sales). If that sounds like a lot of money for few vehicles, you`re right. But there is a simple explanation. Each one is ridiculously expensive. These LSVs appeal to cyclists who want a closed, weatherproof vehicle with better safety protection than an electric bike or electric motorcycle, but don`t have the high upfront cost and insurance requirements of full-size electric vehicles. Oh, they`re electric, fine. They are simply not “cars,” at least not in the traditional sense. LSVs are a category of four-wheeled vehicles defined by the government. They don`t need to be electric, but today it`s 99.9% of them, because it`s simply easier to produce that way, thanks to fewer regulations with emission standards. In fact, the LSV category has comically few regulations.

A 12 kWh lead-acid battery offers an all-electric range of 40 miles and can be charged at a conventional outlet, though lead-acid battery technology is almost as old as the original World War II mini-mokes. The industry always seems to find a way to find that balance, with a $22,000 electric Jeep-lite, perhaps just north of where you can when it comes to hitting for your buck. But as more models hit the market and the class of vehicles becomes more accessible, shrunken electric cars could become an interesting addition to neighborhoods in the United States. They fall into what is known in the United States as the class of low-speed vehicles (often referred to as the neighborhood electric vehicle). A moke starts at just under $22,000. And that`s for the basic nude model.