The initial purchase price of a zero-turn mower is understandably a big part in the contractor's decision-making process. The heavier construction of a diesel engine means the price of a diesel unit can sometimes come as a shock to new buyers.
“The interest among U.S. contractors is not as strong on diesel zero-turns as it is for liquid and air-cooled gasoline,” says Brad Unruh, product manager at Hustler Turf. “I think the initial purchase price definitely has something to do with it, but there is higher fuel efficiency in diesel compared to gas.”
While that initial cost of purchasing a diesel mower may seem high, the payback from the purchases can come quickly with regular use. Diesel fuel offers more energy in each gallon than in gasoline, and the engines have shown to have a longer life.
“At today’s fuel prices, the reward for purchasing diesel-powered products occurs much sooner than before,” Garvey assures. “The price difference between comparable gas and diesel models can be as low as 15%, which can be recuperated in less than a year at some commercial operations. Beyond that, the diesel-powered mower can pay out years of dividends and positive return on investment.”
According to Garvey, multiple sources have indicated that fuel savings can be 700 gallons or more per 1,000 hours of use. With current fuel prices, a contractor can break even on his purchase in the first year of running the unit.
“If the extra billable hours and less downtime are factored in, ROI can be in positive territory as early as 200 hours of operation,” explains Garvey. “From that point on, the savings and earning potential are phenomenal. A Grasshopper MaxTorque diesel model is earning positive ROI much sooner than comparable propane models, as those models cost essentially the same to purchase and use considerably more fuel while decreasing productivity.”
Choosing fuel savings from a powerful mower that has shown to have an extended engine life sounds like an easy decision to make. While it can be the right decision for your contractor customer’s fleet, you should help them carefully research the product so they can make a confident decision.
“The user needs to be confident after research that the diesel design is ‘done right’ and the unit is as smooth-running and handles like a gas-powered unit with all the extra power channeled to the implement drive,” says Garvey. “Then the move to diesel can be made with confidence.”