Toro expands electric fleet to commercial equipment

As of 2024, gasoline-powered lawn care equipment can no longer be sold to landscaping companies in California. More restrictions will likely come elsewhere as governments try to find a way to mitigate climate change.

But customers are also demanding changes – and they were before California’s tenure – pushing companies like Toro to develop battery-powered equipment, officials from the Bloomington-based company said.

Toro introduced the Grandstand Revolution and Z Master Revolution, plug-in versions of its most popular commercial lawn mowers this fall. The two join other electric and hybrid products for golf and professional landscaping.

Nick Bloom, president of Bloomington’s Outdoor Perfection lawn care and landscaping company, has been using Toro equipment since he started his business in 1999. He has built his business on a few contracts from neighborhood lawn mowing at a company with 21 employees in the residential and commercial sectors. contracts.

Last month, Bloom tried out Toro’s latest commercial-grade electric motors in a one-day test event.

“I’ve seen battery technology out there, but not in the commercial world,” Bloom said. “Honestly, what’s unique about it is the same machine that we use every day with all of our crews, except it’s battery powered and usable right now.”

Toro already offers a line of popular residential electrical products in its Flex Force line that uses rechargeable lithium ion batteries that can be switched between different products including 21 inch wide lawn mowers, single stage snow throwers , edgers, blowers, hedge trimmers and other products.

New for this snow season are the two-stage snow throwers that can use multiple battery packs from the Flex Force range.

Toro products in its Revolution Series Commercial grade all electric mowers use the same battery cell technology as used in its Flex Force line, but are powered with more and larger cells. These batteries are also integrated into the machine. Revolution mowers can then be recharged using standard 110 or 220 sockets.

Toro designers and engineers want to leverage technology to improve their products. The power supply adds additional performance capabilities while reducing the maintenance associated with refueling, oil changes, belt changes on other basic maintenance procedures, the company said.

“We were interested in what you can do with electricity,” said Chris Vogtman, marketing director for Toro’s Residential and Landscaping business. “And not just electric for the sake of electricity.”

Electric machines can seem more “nervous” than their gas-powered counterparts. This is where Toro has focused the design tweaks, so the Revolution series works and feels like standard equipment and on the same frame and bridge.

“I knew this technology was coming, I just didn’t know it was already there,” Bloom said.

Toro engineers knew that one of the perceptions they had to contend with was range anxiety, the fear of users that the batteries would run out before the day was over.

The Grandstand Revolution and Z Master Revolution were designed with power reserves to last six to nine hours of standard operation. Toro knows from user feedback that a typical professional operator uses their machines for about five hours a day.

“That’s the other thing that caught my eye,” Bloom said. “This is an all day offer. “

Battery-powered machines come standard with specific features that allow operators to save energy when needed, from controlling the top speed of the mower blades to the angle of the mower deck.

A proprietary battery management system also allows users to know the state of charge of the batteries and other performance metrics.

And that quieter electric machines will be less disruptive.

“The way more and more people are leaving their homes now,” Bloom said, “wow, that will be quite an advantage.”

Bloom also sees a future where operating electrical equipment or all-electrical crews will be a selling point for residential and commercial customers and also some municipal and state contracts may require the use of electrical fleets.

Bloom and other professionals believe some local governments will require their machines – and those of their contractors – to be electric.

Rechargeable batteries do degrade over time, but Toro expects Revolution line HyperCell batteries – developed by the company in-house – to maintain 70% of their original capacity for at least 10 years. This is when most electric vehicle owners expect to replace the batteries in their vehicles.

With lithium being considered an essential mineral, Toro is already considering potential uses to reuse spent batteries and has recycling options and programs for Revolution and Flex Force batteries.

The new Revolution mowers were showcased at trade shows this fall and will be available for purchase this spring. While Toro hasn’t released a list price for either product, they will likely be twice as expensive as current gas models.

Toro’s website will soon be equipped with an ROI calculator to help potential buyers understand and calculate the benefits of a more expensive machine, taking into account lower maintenance costs.

Jukka Kukkonen, an adjunct professor at the University of St. Thomas who teaches a course on the electric vehicle industry, said that the performance of electric residential lawn mowers is so good now that they can tackle almost anything. the tasks on an owner’s list.

Commercial-grade mowers should also be easy to sell, said Kukkonen, also a chief EV educator and strategist at Shift2Electric, a Minnesota-based EV market training and consulting company. Shift2Electric has a page on its site dedicated to listing residential and commercial grade products available. electric lawn mowers on the market.

“When you start calculating the amount of emissions from grounds maintenance alone, it’s obvious to switch to electric lawn equipment,” Kukkonen said. “The difference in emission is so huge,… that it will justify the change.”

Toro is already generating interest on the Revolution series teaser site.

“Battery power is in cars, it’s in the transportation industry. Now it’s real, now it’s in our industry,” Bloom said. “They are very impressive machines.”

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