Lawn maintenance contractors are facing increased competition, intense pricing pressures and rising costs. That’s why zero turn lawn mower manufacturers are putting an emphasis on the development of affordable, highly productive and fuel-efficient lawn mowing machines.
Some manufacturers have chosen to remove some of the bells and whistles that add cost to the machine without adding to productivity. At the same time, they have stuck with powerful engines, big decks and durable frame construction so their machines can continue to stand up to the rigors of daily commercial use.
Many manufacturers now offer mowers that can mow at upwards of 10 mph, allowing operators to mow as many as 6 acres per hour. Cutting deck designs have also been improved, allowing operators to mow faster and still produce a clean, finished look.
Propane and diesel-powered mowers have also become common as more professional users look for ways to “go green” and reduce fuel costs without sacrificing productivity or performance.
Here’s a closer look at what some manufacturers are doing in the key areas landscape contractors are scrutinizing these days.
Affordable. “Recent economic conditions have affected a number of lawn care professionals, who as a result have made do with their existing equipment,” said Sean Dwyer, Husqvarna’s global product manager, zero turn mowers and specialty turf products. “The new (Husqvarna) P-ZT line was introduced to give landscapers the chance to increase their fleet of mowers at an affordable price and still get the performance they expect.”
Dixon riding lawn mowers, another brand from Husqvarna, has unveiled two new lines of commercial-grade zero turn mowers designed for the price-sensitive market: the DX100 Series and DX200 Series. The DX200 Series has been designed to maximize performance while minimizing add-on features and complexity.
Several other manufacturers are also introducing “value mowers” for the 2011 mowing season. For instance, Toro-owned Exmark Mfg. is rolling out its Pioneer Series, which features full-floating UltraCut deck cutting technology, a popular feature on other Exmark models.
Grasshopper’s 226V MidMount mower is designed to offer full-size features in an economical package. A 26-hp Professional Series V-twin engine with Advanced Debris Management System is one such feature.
Productive. These and other manufacturers are also trying to help contractors increase productivity to gain a competitive edge. The 226V from Grasshopper boasts a 12-gallon fuel capacity for longer run times, in addition to a 9-mph forward mowing speed (allowing operators to mow up to 5 acres an hour).
Similarly, the new Ferris IS 2500Z Diesel Mower offers a top speed of 10 mph (mow 5 acres an hour). Snapper Pro’s S800x Diesel Out-Front Mower can mow up to 6 acres per hour thanks to a 10-mph forward speed and 61” or 72” deck. Ferris and Snapper Pro are part of Briggs & Stratton’s Yard Power Products Group.
Schiller Grounds Care’s BOB-CAT Predator-Pro features a high horsepower-and-deck combination: 26-37 horsepower and 61”-72” cutting deck. Plus, the mower’s direct fuel-injected engine with electronic governor system reacts to changing workload conditions instantly while metering fuel to the engine precisely.
Cub Cadet’s Z Force S incorporates the company’s patented Synchro Steer technology, which incorporates a steering wheel as opposed to lap bars traditionally found on zero turn mowers. Cub Cadet says this features greatly reduces training time for new operators, leading to increased operator confidence and productivity on the job.
Cutting Performance. Hustler’s new X-ONE, which updates the popular Hustler Z, features the company’s new VX4 technology. VX4 brings improved cut quality at a higher ground speed. The adjustable front inner wall allows deck performance to be optimized for all grass conditions and seasons.
Gravely, an Ariens Company brand, offers two unique deck designs on its zero turn mowers. The company’s High Volume Tunnel Deck, featuring a 149-square-inch discharge opening, is ideal for mowing tall, thick and wet grass. Its XLerator deck is also designed to offer enhanced airflow.
For a look at dozens of new zero turn lawn mowers for the 2011 mowing season, check out Commercial Riding Mowers - GIP Equipment Guide.