Kohler has been providing electronic fuel-injection engines for commercial mowers since the late 1990s. As contractors have placed more emphasis on reducing fuel usage and overall cost of ownership, demand for EFI engine-powered mowers has accelerated over the past five years. In turn, Kohler has continued to expand its EFI gas-model lineup, in addition to designing some EFI engines that are specifically designed to work with propane fuel. In 2015, though, Kohler has some familiar company in the EFI engines segment.
Kawasaki and Briggs & Stratton (Vanguard) have recently introduced their first EFI engines for commercial mowers. Subaru has actually offered a couple of EFI engines for several years, though they are yet to be found on any mowers. Rather, you can find them on things like chippers (such as the Echo Bear Cat CH8720iH) and utility vehicles (such as the Club Car XRT850).
"We have fuel-injection engines in our lineup already, and plan on expanding our offering," says Brad Murphy, vice president and chief operating officer at Subaru. "We see fuel injection with the electronic governor as the future, both to meet the ever-improving exhaust/emissions standards as well as provide performance and reliability."
A well-known engine brand among commercial cutters, Kawasaki is brand new to EFI this year. "The new FS730V-EFI will set standards that will ultimately differentiate Kawasaki's offerings from other branded engines," says Doug Freeman, a spokesperson for Kawasaki. "New technology has been built into this engine platform, such as the fully integrated e-gov control that maintains a constant engine speed and provides 100% blade tip speed under most load conditions. The e-gov will also maintain maximum ground speed."
When asked why Kawasaki is so late to the EFI game, Freeman says, "More time was taken to assure that this EFI system, and those that follow, are game changers, not followers." Currently, Freeman points out, John Deere is in the process of implementing the Kawasaki FS730V-EFI into one of its mowers. "The engine is also under evaluation by several others for inclusion in their equipment," Freeman adds.
Briggs & Stratton is also new to EFI, having just introduced its first-ever EFI engine—the Vanguard 810cc—in September. A big focus for the company, while methodically taking its time entering the EFI market, was making sure it had the training tools to help dealership technicians get a firm grasp on diagnostics. The Vanguard 810cc EFI engine can be found on the following commercial mowers this year:
- Hustler Super Z zero-turn (52- and 60-inch only), and X-One zero-turn (52- and 60-inch only)
- Altoz XCZ and XCS zero-turns
- Ferris IS2100 zero-turn and FW35 walk-behind
- Snapper Pro S200 zero-turn and SW35 walk-behind
- Husqvarna P-ZT 60-inch zero-turn
Kohler's newest EFI engine is the 824cc Command PRO EFI, the company's most powerful EFI engine to date. The 824cc also features a highly tuned air intake system that enhances airflow to maximize power and torque. This engine can be found on numerous commercial mower models this year from Bad Boy, Cub Cadet, Dixie Chopper, Gravely, Husqvarna, Scag and Wright. Toro and Exmark are reportedly looking to make a mid-season launch this year.
As pointed out earlier, Kohler has been developing its EFI market for more than 15 years. Mark Johansen, director of marketing, says that roughly 40% of Kohler's turf engines are now EFI. "By 2017 we expect that to be more like 75%," Johansen adds. "And by 2020, combustion engines as a whole could become quite scarce. We are pushing the industry in this direction, because it's very important."