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Updating lead acid batteries

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I have a 81 VW Volksrabbit. It is a 96v system with 16 6v golf cart batteries. The batteries need to be replaced. With new lead acid batteries it has roughly a 40 mile range. I want to know if I can replace these with a newer type of battery to get more range. Are there lithium ion batteries or nickel metal batteries available. Would cost be too prohibitive?
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