(Courtesy GoCar Tours)

Tourist-friendly GoCars that struggle with SF hills get a boost

For years, they were the little cars that couldn’t — couldn’t go up San Francisco’s hills, that is.

For years, they were the little cars that couldn’t — couldn’t go up San Francisco’s hills, that is.

Now San Francisco’s tourist-friendly yellow “GoCars” are netting a new electric-engine fleet, and the company told the San Francisco Examiner they’ll have more than enough oomph to rev up The City’s steepest inclines.

And, the company claims, these newer, improved GoCars will be able to cross the Golden Gate Bridge for the very first time.

About 40 of these so-called “fun utility vehicles” from electric vehicle company Arcimoto will be developed for GoCar’s fleet, the companies announced June 3. Those GoCars are traditionally outfitted with GPS-enabled guided tours, leading tourists across The City’s fog-swamped landmarks.

Located in San Francisco’s tourist haven, Fisherman’s Wharf, GoCar Tours have operated in San Francisco since 2004. The company’s old-style GoCars will be in their fleet for the next “season or more,” said GoCar founder Nathan Withrington, in an emailed statement. After a fall test program, electric “fun utility vehicle” tours will begin in late 2019 or early 2020.

While the new GoCars will help the company go green, they’ll also pack a lot of zip: They top 75 M.P.H, according to manufacturer Arcimoto. That’s a jump from the traditional GoCar, which is classified by the Department of Motor Vehicles as a “motor-driven cycle.”

For years, those traditional GoCar model has been known to lag on hills. With GoCar’s electric fleet, that’ll be a thing of the past, said Arcimoto founder Mark Frohnmayer, in a statement to the Examiner.

“It can take on any hill San Francisco has to offer, from Pac Heights to Twin Peaks to Hawk Hill and everything in between,” Frohnmayer wrote. “We expect the (fun utility vehicle) to take our customers to places, and heights, they’ve never been before in a GoCar.”

That’ll be good news to any tourist not ready for San Francisco’s steep inclines. Even a glancing look at Yelp reveals shows nearly 80 reviews (out of 381) mentioning the problem.

“The tour was extremely fun and adventurous,” but “at times our car was put-putting and it struggled going up hills, that were not that steep by the way,” wrote tourist Tarcia H. from Texas, on Yelp in 2018. Matt M. from Henderson, Nevada wrote last July that “the vehicle couldn’t even get up the first hill/incline near Ghiradelli Square on the provided, suggested route. We had to do a U-turn in the middle of two-way traffic with no reverse gear.”

Eventually, Matt M. had to “get out of the car to push it.”

That’s especially a problem on one of San Francisco’s most famous hills: Lombard Street.

Approaching the landmark involves going up a steep hill from every side, which Stephanie S. from Oakland found out the hard way. In 2008 on Yelp, she wrote “we chose to go up Lombard and my friend had to push.”

joe@sfexaminer.com

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