Consumer Riding Mower Trends in 2014

Consumer zero-turn mowers have continued to show growth over the last few years. Forecasted sales for 2014 are projected to be 8.9% over 2013, and 10.7% over this year in 2015. When residential zero-turn mowers and non-zero-turn mowers are grouped together, the growth is not as large, suggesting sales of zero-turn mowers are growing at a faster rate than the rest of the product segment.

As a group, consumer riders (including zero-turn, rear-engine riders and lawn tractors) are projected to grow 5.3% in 2014 over 2013, and 6.5% in 2015 over this year. These statistics suggest that many homeowners are looking for commercial-grade equipment within the prosumer category.

Rugged construction

Homeowners who choose to shop the independent dealer are looking to invest in a product they know will last. That means mowers that offer rugged construction build for regular use. Mowers like the Raptor SD from Hustler features a fabricated heavy duty deck with a steel frame. The Kubota Kommander offers a professional-grade, 10-gauge welded-steel mowing deck as well.

BOB-CAT says its FastCat RZ is designed for the large-property owner who wants an affordable, commercial-quality zero-turn mower. Durability features on the FastCat include Maintenance-free cutter spindles and caster wheels.

Accessibility

Homeowners are looking for mowers that offer the performance of commercial-grade equipment with the accessibility of an automobile. As a homeowner who is handling their own property maintenance, they want a mower they can hop on and get to cutting right away. Manufacturers have introduced several features that offer easy starting and simple operation.

Husqvarna has introduced a SmartSwitch on its line of riding mowers for 2014 that offers one-touch starting, real-time feedback and key-less operation. Operators can easily start the mower, turn on headlights and switch to reverse with a simple push of the button. The SmartSwitch also provides information about the battery charge status, if the parking brake is engaged, and whether steering and blades need adjusting.

Another accessibly feature you will find on consumer mowers is the steering wheel operation on rear-engine riders. Manufacturers like Cub Cadet (RZT S), Snapper (RE Series) and Husqvarna (Articulating Rider) all offer models with steering-wheel operation similar to that found on a lawn tractor or motor vehicle. This feature, found on rear-engine riders, offers near-zero-turn maneuverability with simplified steering.

Quiet power

Consumers are opening up to electric powered products and quiet engines that allow them to be less of a noise nuisance to neighbors when doing lawn maintenance.

The Cub Cadet RZT S Zero is a fully-electric zero-turn riding mower. With zero noise, gasoline and oil, maintenance is also simplified thanks to no belts or filters to change.   

On the walk mower side, Stihl offers the RMA 370 powered by a 36-volt lithium-ion battery for gasoline-free, low-maintenance lawn care. Stihl reports the battery can mow 3,200 square feet with a single charge.

Briggs & Stratton recently introduced Quiet Power Technology on select engines. The company says the engines are designed to be 65% quieter with reduced vibration.

The right price

Snapper’s new 550Z zero-turn mower targets that prosumer market with its professional-grade features and a price point starting just under $5,000. Same with the Hustler Raptor that is priced just under $3,000. Whatever the price, if it is has features to match, it should be viewed as a smart purchase. 

The top ten consumer mowers viewed most frequently on greenindustrypros.com are:

  1. Hustler Raptor SD
  2. Kubota Kommander ZG100-Series
  3. Hustler Raptor
  4. Snapper R-Series Rear-Engine Riders
  5. Country Clipper Wrangler
  6. Big Dog C-Series Riding Mowers
  7. Scag Freedom Z
  8. Simplicity Citation
  9. BOB-CAT FastCat RZ
  10. Gravely ZT 34

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