STIHL GB used the Westonbirt, The National Arboretum as the location to introduce a selection of their new professional products to the trade press last week. The invited audience included representatives of titles read by professional arborists, tree care specialists, groundstaff and greenkeepers.
The company also took the opportunity to show off a couple of exciting previews of machines coming out later in the year which are under embargo for the time being. Suffice it to say these certainly raised the excitement levels of some of the specialist journalists in attendance.
Paul Hicks, STIHL GB marketing and product manager
Gathering the trade press together allowed the company to reinforce that all their products have now transitioned over from green to orange. Paul Hicks, STIHL GB's marketing and product manager, said, "STIHL now has a tool available for every professional and domestic challenge."
A selection of products was introduced, both petrol and battery powered, all of which were available to test around the grounds of the arboretum.
One new product on show was the BR 800 C-E blower. Described by Paul as the most powerful blower on the market, offering 17% more power than their previous top rated blower, the new unit is designed with a starting system which is featured on the side of the machine, allowing users to start the blower while wearing it. The simplified starting system also features an automatic choke reset and a switch position on the control handle that is always ‘on’, ensuring that the professional user can start the blower easily.
Coming in May, but available to test this week at Westonbirt, was the MS 500i, which Paul said was the world’s first chainsaw with electronically controlled fuel injection and offered "the best power to weight ratio of any production chainsaw on the market." He went on to explain that the injection technology employed in the saw not only provides it with incredible torque, but also ensures rapid acceleration of the saw chain from 0 to 100 km/h in just 0.25 seconds.
A selection of new mowers were also introduced and put through their paces. The RM 655 RS rear roller mower, suitable for professional landscapers for example, includes a single speed, split, driven rear metal roller for that British-desired striping effect, as well as making manoeuvring around borders easier. The rear roller, the press was told, features high quality bearings and stainless steel build for longevity. The machine also benefits from a mono-comfort handlebar, with super soft grip which is adjustable to three different heights allowing users to find a suitable setting and to access the grass catcher box more easily.
A new mulching mower was also seen. The RM 4 RTP features a 53cm deck which can cover areas of up to 2,500m2. A self-propelled model, it has single speed drive for simplicity ensuring the mower sets itself in motion with the pull of a lever.
The company has also launched a new range of RM 756 series petrol powered lawn mowers - all of which utilise a Kawasaki engine, as well as a three litre fuel tank to offer professional users longer running times. There are three levels of specification for the 7 series: the RM 756 GS with 3 speed drive and a dual handlebar, RM 756 GC with 3 speed drive and mono handlebar or the RM 756 YC with hydrostatic drive and mono handlebar.
Previewed ahead of its launch this August was also the STIHL Connected system for professional users. The system comprises of three central components; a Smart Connector, an app, and the pro portal. When used in conjunction, the system enables professional users to analyse key machinery performance data.
With this event, STIHL was able to convey the message to the trade press that whilst battery product developments are very important to them as a company, they are still very much in the petrol engine game - albeit with constant development of cleaner, more efficient machines.