Focused on being a front-runner: Greenworks rolls out extensive line of battery-powered commercial equipment
10 January 2023
Greenworks Tools chose the Churchill Downs horse racing campus, one of the most iconic locations in Louisville, to roll out its expanded range of commercial outdoor power equipment prior to the 2022 Equip Expo. Powered by electricity across the board, the new 82-volt products included zero-turn mowers for professional landscapers and a new motor designed to make integration easier for original equipment manufacturers.
“In my career I have never had the great ability to release as many new products as what we are today,” said Tony Marchese, senior vice president of Greenworks Commercial, based in Mooresville, N.C. “Greenworks Commercial is moving the needle in the professional and commercial world with its products, and we’re not only introducing new products but a new way to do business.”
Greenworks Commercial is a brand of Globe Technologies Group, a firm founded in China in 2002. Its first product was a battery-powered trimmer, and one of its first customers was the Canadian Tire chain of retail stores. Today, the catalog includes backpack blowers, chainsaws, string trimmer, pole saws, edgers, lawn mowers, snow throwers, tillers and utility vehicles. Its range of products are sold under the Greenworks brand to homeowners and commercial customers, and some are private-labeled.
With factories in China, Vietnam and the U.S., it has more than 7000 employees — and 750 of those are in engineering. Vertically integrated, Greenworks and its parent company reportedly have 130 assembly lines for finished goods and count their annual unit sales in the millions.
“Our vision is to build a more powerful future for everyone using clean energy, and we consider ourselves to be a driving force,” said Klaus Hahn, president of Greenworks North America. “We have no history with gas, so we have no legacy with it. We have always been battery-powered. We believe cordless has absolutely no limits. So, every day and every moment we’re pushing the boundaries of cordless technology.”
Mowing at 16 mph
The company’s new zero-turn-radius mower (ZTR) line will be manufactured in a 181,000-sq.-ft. factory in Morristown, Tenn., which is being transformed into a “Center of Excellence,” resplendent with an AGV (automated guided vehicle)-based assembly line, robotic welding and laser measuring for quality control. The company also plans to assemble its large battery packs at the Tennessee plant.
Named OptimusZ, the ZTRs were developed from scratch in the 12 months ahead of their public introduction at Equip Expo.
“When we started the project last October, we began with the battery,” Hahn said. “the best place for the battery is under the seat because that’s where the optimal center of gravity is. Then, we built everything around it. Because we built these units for batteries, that means we have the lowest center of gravity, the best drive control, the best agility, the best traction control, the best performance. Because we didn’t take the gas engine off and put a battery on like many others do, we could take about 18 in. out of the whole length. You easily can fit three zero-turns on a 20-ft. trailer.”
Expected in early 2023, the OptimusZ line-up will be available in three platforms: a compact 8-kWh battery-powered stand-on unit with a 32- or 36-in. deck; 48-, 52- and 60-in. decks on large stand-on mowers with 18-kWh and 24-kWh battery modules; or a ride-on version with 48-, 52- and 60-in. deck options and 18-kWh or 24-kWh battery modules. The batteries use lithium-iron phosphate chemistry.
Of the largest model, Hahn said: “This is by far the most powerful zero-turn on the market. It is the equivalent to [a] 65-hp, or a 1000-cc gas engine. It provides a 16-mph-cutting speed – there’s really nothing else out there like it. At the same time, it maintains 19,000-fpm blade tip speed for the best kind of performance, no matter if it’s in tall grass, short grass, wet or dry.”
Yin Chen, founder, chairman and CEO of Globe and Greenworks, compared OptimusZ to the Tesla Model S luxury car, which entered production in 2012 and has became one of the world’s top-selling plug-in electric cars.
“Our 20 years of battery expertise has made the OptimusZ possible,” Chen said. “Before Tesla launched the Model S, the company was shaky. The quality of the cars was not there, and the performance of the company was in doubt. But when the S model launched, it totally changed Tesla. For us, in the OPE industry, the introduction of the OptimusZ marks as an important day as the Tesla Model S. The reason is that it solves all of the issues. It is the most compact, powerful, comfortable and safe ZTR. Customers will only have to sharpen the blades and grease the front castor wheels to be more productive and more profitable.”
The company said the 24-kWh battery is good for an eight-hour runtime – or up to 21 acres on a charge. Low-profile drive motors in the rear wheels monitor and respond to changing conditions while providing adaptive traction control and eliminating belts, pulleys and fluids. Through rapid charging, the company said users can achieve a full charge in three hours. The company figured the machine will provide the end-user a savings of $29,475 after five years (the 60-in. OptimusZ 24-kWh ride-on mower is expected to retail for $26,999.99).
“We’re using a CANbus system, so the drive motors, cutting motors and the battery are all connected,” Hahn said. So, they make adjustments in real time to provide the best performance for eight hours of runtime. And that’s eight hours runtime in any condition — we have done a lot of in-use testing in Florida’s St. Augustine grass, for example, so there’s no question about power.”
The mowers are equipped with Green Shield theft protection and 4G/GPS connectivity to enable fleet management via Greenworks Fleet Connect, which is scheduled for launch in the second quarter of 2023. The technology offers usage statistics and live insights into the battery and other system functions while the 4G module will enable over-the-air software updates.
“Our Fleet Service Connect app will be an ace in the pocket of our dealers,” said Jason Swanson, vice president of global product development for Greenworks Commercial. “They will be able to monitor a customer’s entire fleet across multiple jobsites in real time. The troubleshooting capabilities of this app will allow dealers to pinpoint issues even before the customer.”
In the belief that the future is not only electric but also digital, Greenworks opened a research and development center in Jönköping, Sweden, that is primarily tasked with the development of autonomous mowers, including ZTRs for North America. Products under development maintain an operator station so the machine can be used autonomously or with a human in the seat.
Greenworks Commercial also introduced the E-Gen 360 powerhead, a gasoline engine replacement motor. The company said the engine will bolt onto a range of engine-driven products and uses a brushless electric 82-volt motor with power equivalent to a 5-hp, 160-cc horizontal crankshaft engine. The motor uses dual-port technology for maximum power and runtime by pulling from two batteries simultaneously. It is compatible with a 1.2-kW range extender battery, as well. It also has a push button start, LED display and three speed settings.
“With 80% fewer moving parts, you know this unit won’t break down when you need it most,” said Greenworks Director of Product Management Ryan Murphy. “The E-Gen 360’s 82-volt battery system is emissions=free and will work in more than 60 of our other commercial 82-volt products.”
The powerhead will be available to OEM customers. “We created this as a universal powerhead to work with other manufacturers in the transformation from gas engines and help some of our distant competitors move from gas to cordless,” Hahn said.
Installed in a pressure washer, for example, the company said the powerhead has a runtime of up to 85 minutes in low-power mode or 45 minutes in high power mode. “One of the biggest differences will be in the money saved,” Hahn said. “That’s $2800 in savings over three years, based on 3000 hours of use over that time. When you look at duty cycles of pressure washers, a gas engine will run between idle and full throttle and then back to idle. With this one, it just turns off when it’s no longer needed.”
Hahn said one of the main barriers to the adoption of electric outdoor power equipment has been charging solutions. To address that, the company developed the 20-ft. Optimus Mobile Charging (MC) trailer to permit landscapers to transport and charge tools and equipment onsite, overnight or while in transit.
Based on a custom-made trailer, it houses a 26-kWh battery for 32 kW of charging energy. Its three ZTR chargers output 6000 W each and are reportedly capable of “topping up” a riding mower in as little as 75 minutes while allowing landscapers to conveniently charge their mowers inside or outside of the trailer.
Charged via a standard EV-charging system, the trailer is also equipped with 3000 W of solar power. The trailer can transport and charge 20-plus battery-powered tools, 36 handheld batteries and three full-size zero-turn mowers. Availability is planned for 2023.
“We believe the future of zero-emission landscaping is happening right now,” Hahn said. “This really is the moment in time where there’s no longer any reason why you wouldn’t switch from gas to electricity.”