MITCHELL, S.D. — There’s a new way to traverse around the local golf course and streets of Mitchell, somewhat thanks to Jeff Sand.
What was once an idea that came about while sitting at his kitchen table over a year ago has turned into a profitable business venture that’s gaining momentum.
Sand’s idea to sell electric golf carts capable of maneuvering on multiple terrains helped drive the local entrepreneur to launch an electric vehicle dealership. Throughout his search for a golf cart that could dually serve as a vehicle, Sand became fascinated with a particular model: a fully enclosed compact-size electric vehicle.
“I was looking for a golf car that could be used for more than at the golf course and more than three months out of the year,” Sand said. “I didn’t want a cumbersome enclosure attachment or plastic sides that many of the traditional golf car brands have to offer.”
While juggling being a full-time English teacher at Mitchell High School, Sand was spending his spare time in the summer marketing his newly launched company called Midwest Electric Vehicles. Testing the waters of the electric vehicle market, Sand said the unique product began to rapidly sell in Mitchell.
“Thank goodness for the friends and family that believed in my passion for the project, because that’s where it all started,” Sand said. “The growing support and partnerships with local entities have been amazing for the company, and I hope to continue building off that.”
His first partnerships began with Dakota Wesleyan University’s football program and Mitchell Roofing and Siding, which quickly expanded and then included with the Mineral Palace Casino in Deadwood and Avera Health Foundation, to name a few.
The vehicles are built on golf cart chassis and encompass a multitude of features such as A/C, heat, windshield wipers, power windows, regenerative disc brakes and full exterior lighting package. Sand said the vehicles meet all Department of Transportation safety requirements, clearing the way for the electric vehicles to traverse roadways, trails, golf courses and campgrounds. To legally drive the vehicles on city roadways, Sand said one must insure the vehicle and properly register it with their respective city.
“There is also the ease of use. At the end of the day when you are done using one of our vehicles, you just plug it into an outlet on the wall of your garage, and it’s ready to go in the morning,” Sand said. “Electric cars bring so much ease of use when using it for recreational use.”
Sand credits the uniqueness and versatility of the vehicles as a major factor for their growing popularity, both locally and nationally. In addition, the rise of energy efficient automobiles has Sand on the cutting edge of a national and worldwide movement to reduce carbon emissions.
With the ability to reach speeds of 25 miles per hour, along with the capability to travel 75 miles until the vehicles need a roughly six-hour recharge, Sand said the fuel cost-savings compared to a traditional golf cart is a perk to owning a Midwest Electric Vehicle. The average price range for the vehicles hover around $14,000 to $15,000.
“The electric vehicle revolution is just beginning, and consumers are starting to realize the cost-saving and environmental advantages that electric vehicles have over vehicles equipped with an internal combustion engine,” Sand said. “There are over a 1,000 moving parts in a traditional ICE drive-train compared to under 100 in most electric vehicle drive trains.”
The success Sand has experienced in his first full year of operation prompted him to quit teaching after this year and partner with Mitchell native Eric Christensen, CEO and co-founder of Momentum MotorWerks. Together, the two recently launched a national distributorship out of Sioux Falls. Sand said the manufacturer of Midwest Electric Vehicles is a certified China-based company.
Through his partnership with Christensen, the co-founders of Momentum MotorWerks leased a building in Tea, home of the distribution center as of this spring.
Momentum MotorWerks will serve as the distributor for Midwest Electric Vehicles, Sand said. Under the new partnership, the Midwest Electric Vehicle brand will remain an authorized dealer in South Dakota. The two entrepreneurs hope to expand into additional states and welcome more authorized dealers in the future.
“As Momentum MotorWerks continues to establish new dealerships across the country, I look forward to growing this passion of mine into a solution-oriented business that helps consumers,” Sand said.
With plans to build a Sioux Falls retail storefront for Midwest Electric Vehicles in the near future, Sand likes where things are headed in his business endeavors.
“We have already started tapping into some other states like Arizona, so it’s just the beginning,” he said.