The industry has been wondering, and STIHL has answered. Today, May 24th 2022 STIHL corporate announced a new line of Zero-Turn Mowers coming to North America in January of 2023!
Does STIHL make ride on Lawn Mowers?
They might be the number one selling outdoor power equipment brand world wide but do they make lawn mowers? The answer is yes, STIHL has manufactured lawn mowers before, but their ride on selection has never been imported to North America.
The STIHL Ride on Mower Roots: STIHL and Viking Outdoor Power Equipment
In 2019 in Germany, STIHL purchased the Viking Outdoor Power Equipment brand which was known for their ride on, walk behind lawn mowers and power equipment. This was a big deal because Viking was one of the most popular selling lawn mowers in Europe at the time. STIHL decided to get rid of the Viking brand name and produce their equipment under the STIHL name.
STIHL began to produce the previously known Viking lawn mowers and lawn tractors under the STIHL brand, which basically was just an aesthetic / marketing move. As you can see above how close the STIHL ride on lawn mower is to the Viking ride on lawn mower. They almost look exactly the same, controls, tires and all.
STIHL Zero-Turn Lawn Mower Rumors
Rumors around the industry that STIHL will probably do the same thing they did with Viking for zero-turn mowers in the North American Market. This would be purchasing a distressed, dying or known brand and remarketing them under the STIHL brand name. I've heard rumors of Ferris, and Simplicity and even Snapper lawn mowers. I think we would have heard something about this before the announcement was made though.
STIHL making a break for the Zero-Turn Lawn Mower Market
North America takes their lawns and gardens seriously. This means that the market is much more competitive than Europe. There are A LOT of zero-turn lawn mower brands on the market. (See Above that is just a taste!) Everything from super inexpensive plastic, low quality built lawn mowers to premium high end zero-turn mowers are available to consumers in North America. Over the years we have seen lawn mower brands come and go. Don't get me wrong, I've been a STIHL dealer for 10+ years and absolutely love the brand. Personally I think that entering the North American Zero-Turn Mower market is a great idea, but it has to be done correctly. Simply relying on the well known world wide STIHL brand name can be a risky endeavor. In order for them to break into the mower market and thrive at the same time they must pay very close attention to the details: Engine, Quality, Models, and Parts & Availability.
STIHL Zero-Turn Mowers: The Engine Matters
One thing we do know is STIHL is famous worldwide for their two-stroke engines. This is their bread and butter found on almost every single STIHL gas powered piece of equipment since basically forever. Another thing we know is that STIHL will be sourcing Briggs & Stratton engines for their zero-turn lawn mower lineup. This could be a good or bad thing depending on how it's executed. Briggs engines have been notoriously tougher and tougher to get since the start of the pandemic and many other lawn mower brands have been having issues finding quality engines for their mowers.
STIHL Zero-Turn Mowers: Quality
STIHL is known for making quality outdoor power equipment, they wouldn't be the #1 Selling brand of outdoor power equipment world wide if they made garbage. This is a fact. Manufacturing larger frame zero turn mowers compared to buying another company and simply rebranding is a whole different can of worms. We're talking zero-turn mowers which can cost as much as a used car or even more. This means the quality and dependability of these mowers must be up to standards that everyone expects from STIHL.
Although we don't have many details yet, STIHL has two options for manufacturing which would be, either purchase an already established Zero-Turn Mower manufacturer or build their own manufacturing from the ground up. We're not sure which path STIHL intends to take, but either option has it's own pros and cons, and it can be a very tough choice.
STIHL Zero-Turn Mowers: Models
We're unsure of what STIHL has decided for a lawn mower lineup size and use wise. If we're going by traditional standards they will have models that range from smaller, economical sized lawn mowers for homeowners and people with small areas to mow, all the way up to larger more higher end mowers for landscapers and professionals who need to mow large areas of their lawn. In order for STIHL to break into this market they must pick and choose their battles against their competitors model sizes. Attempting to go up against some of the industry juggernauts in certain size models could be an uphill battle, especially when it comes to landscaper and professional models because many customers are very brand savvy and specific.
STIHL Zero-Turn Mowers: Parts & Service
Things do go wrong. Lawn mowers break. The important thing every single zero-turn mower company on this planet should realize many people use them as a livelihood. This means if the lawn mower breaks they are losing time and money. Building quality zero-turn lawn mowers is the first step. Keeping them running with readily available parts (especially for consumable items like blades, belts, etc) is sometimes an after thought for some manufacturers. STIHL already has an independent network of authorized Sales & Service dealers in place, which is absolutely huge compared to many other lawn mower brands. This is a fantastic start but being able to keep them serviced and running for years upon years of use while having the available parts for service or repairs is a delicate balance especially with todays inventory shortages.
STIHL Zero-Turn Mower Teaser Look
STIHL has only released a single image of their Zero-Turn Lawn Mower. It's a very small taste of what is to come. The photo makes me ask more questions than it answers. From what we can see is a pretty standard zero-turn lawn mower. Notice how the STIHL emblem is printed on a piece of plastic or sheet metal and screwed directly onto the side of the mower, unlike most of their equipment which has model specific emblems. This photo doesn't show anything groundbreaking nor innovative. It leads me to believe this is an early prototype. The controls, look standard for most zero turn mowers. I can't tell if the deck belt covers are made from plastic or metal (hopefully metal) The piece of metal extruding from the mower deck does look thick which is very promising. Overall it does look promising, I'd love to know how they are going about researching, developing and manufacturing them.
It does look similar to the Husqvarna Z242F Zero-Turn Mower but with slightly different styling, and I'm guessing a thicker gauge metal used on the deck.
STIHL Zero-Turn Lawn Mower: In conclusion
As a STIHL and Scag outdoor power equipment sales & service dealer I feel like I'm qualified to give my opinion on STIHL's new venture. The problem is there really isn't enough information out there as of yet to make any grand conclusions about STIHL zero turn lawn mowers coming to the North American Market. I think we will all be surprised and excited as they release updates and news about STIHL's new zero-turn lawn mower lineup.
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