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EGO Powerplus launches electric self propelled mower

Ego Powerplus, the first company to bring high voltage battery lawnmower a to Australia, has just upped their game.

Available for some time in the USA, but just released here, their new 52cm self propelled mower is a leap ahead of their earlier offering, and on paper at least (I haven’t got my hands on one to test yet) a leap ahead of the competition as well.

As far as I am aware, this is the first self propelled battery mower on the Australian market, and is also the widest cut that I know of in a battery push mower available in Australia.

It also has a 7.5 Ah battery which blitzes the previous 4 Ah offering and is a jump on AEG’s 4Ah batteries.

EGO claim a 50 minute run time with the 7.5 Ah battery which sounds quite plausible to me. I routinely get 40-50 minutes on a 4Ah battery with the AEG mower I use daily in my work, which is an 18″ cut compared to the Ego 21″ cut and also the drain of the self drive motor.

The new mower is also available in a non self propelled variant which ships with a 5Ah battery, and the original 49cm mower is still available.

The new self propelled mower retails for $999 with the 7.5Ah battery included as well as the rapid charger which charges the big battery in around an hour.

If you want the push version, that comes with the rapid charger also, but a 5Ah battery which charges faster naturally. Run time should be similar without the self propulsion energy draw to worry about.

The larger battery can also be ordered as an extra on the other models of mower, and is interchangeable across the entire EGO range of tools which includes a blower, line trimmer, hedge trimmer, and chainsaw.

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AEG Leaf Blower

Having been impressed by the AEG 58 volt lawnmower and line trimmer, I have bought the leaf blower as well.

Ther will be a full review coming soon, but first impressions are good. It won’t quite match a good 2 stroke unit for power but it isn’t embarrassed by them either.

Leaf blowers are usually started up, used for a few minutes from cold, then shut down. Bad for the engine and bad for emissions. An electric blower is ready to go at full power with the pull of a trigger.

This one is a keeper.

AEG 58 volt lawnmower and line trimmer

 

 

Some readers may be aware that my day job is as a lawn care contractor. I am painfully aware that small engines on outdoor power equipment are just about the worst offenders for emissions. One study found that a small yard machine engine can produce as much emissions as 40 modern cars. You read that right, it’s not a typo…40 cars! The reasons are many…catalytic converters, positive crankcase ventilation, evaporative emissions controls, efficient instead of crude carburettors….these are things that have been on our cars for over 30 years, yet our lawn mowers still use cheap carbs with fuel tanks vented to atmosphere and simple straight exhausts…not to mention all the ones burning 2 stroke oil whenever they run…. Many of these small engines are in an appalling state of tune also.

So, it’s a no brainer that going electric for garden equipment will have a big cumulative environmental effect. Not to mention the social benefits of reduced noise on weekend mornings and the health benefits of lower vibration and the elimination of breathing exhaust fumes at close range or handling petrol…but corded garden tools are a nuisance, and battery ones are mere toys for tiny gardens. Aren’t they? Well…no! Not anymore… The cheap units like the Ryobi 36v and Victa 40v are better than those that came before, and if you have several thousand dollars to spend Pellenc, Bosch Professional, and Mean Green are among the companies building genuine professional grade units.

But what if you can’t afford a $5,000 lawn mower but the small ones don’t have enough grunt? There was a gap in the market for “prosumer” or entry level commercial battery powered gear. That gap has been filled…

The new AEG 58v power tool range is marketed as being suitable for professional use, and with a 6 year trade warranty they are certainly aiming at the pro market. But do they make the cut?

First, the lawnmower.
This is a well built machine, with a sturdy steel chassis and good sized wheels.
The handles fold quickly and easily with spring loaded catches. Screw knobs allow a double fold for more compact storage. The rear wheels are mounted right at the back allowing you to pickup the handle on the single fold position and trundle it around. There are feet at the rear to allow the unit to be stood on end for compact storage, a side benefit of having no fuel tank or oil to leak!
Height adjustment is by a single lever and is easy to use.
The battery housing is styled like a conventional petrol mower engine cowling. There are two battery slots and a removable key which has an arrow on it. To switch from one battery to the other simply remove the key and reinsert with the arrow facing the full battery. The standard battery is a 4 ah unit although a 6 ah battery is scheduled for release later in the year. Currently the mower is sold only as a skin without batteries.
The blade is a one piece bar type which cuts and mulches well, although I did bend it by hitting a large rock in long grass when testing under extreme conditions. In my opinion a disc with replaceable swing back blades would be a big improvement and would make it much more attractive to commercial operators. AEG customer service was fantastic, and even though there was no stock of spare blades yet (the mower had gone on sale only a couple of days previously) they found one and put in the post for me the next day.
The catcher is a fabric bag type and works well. Thick or wet grass will not completely pack the bag full, I haven’t tried it on really dry grass yet as there hasn’t been any dry grass to cut! I think dry catching would be good.
The mulch plug is easy to fit, and mulching performance is quite good. Mulching does drain the battery noticeably quicker, but has a trade off of not stopping to empty the catcher…
imageThere is a flap on the side where the side discharge chute slips in, a handy feature to have. Side discharge works well except in thick wet grass where it tends to block up and need clearing.
The main criticism I would make about this mower is that the blade is mounted higher than the base of the chassis. This means that on low settings the chassis is prone to hanging up if the ground is not quite flat. The lowest setting creates quite a bit of drag as the chassis brushes just above ground level. Lowering the blade by 10mm would make a world of difference!

Using the mower is simple. Hold down the button on the handle bar while you pull one of the trigger handles. After a 2 second delay the motor spins up and you are away!
If you push it into thick grass you can hear the motor power up as the load sensors detect the increased load. Keeping it in the lower power setting makes the battery last much longer.
Run time varies according to load and operating method. I have run the battery flat in 20 minutes by mulching a large yard on a low setting with tall grass. It did the job, but battery life suffered. On a well kept lawn of average size I went through a quarter of a battery. I would say the average run time is 40-50 minutes of mowing time, remembering that time you take to empty the catcher and move yard furniture etc is not draining the battery at all. A regular suburban front and back yard should not take more than half a charge unless it has been let grow too long.

image

So, will this mower make the grade and capture commercial sales as AEG hopes?
Probably not.
The vast majority of commercial operators simply won’t touch an 18” machine. Echo sells this same power unit in North America fitted to a 21” base, and it has the power to spin a 21” blade. Why AEG chose to run with an 18” base is mystifying.
Also, most commercial operators dislike bar blades and a disc with swing back blades would help here.
Finally, a self propelled option would make it much more attractive to people who are pushing the mower for 8 hours a day or more.
Run time is not a big issue, as a commercial operator would not baulk at buying 6 batteries and would probably fit an inverter to their vehicle to allow battery top up on the road (hint AEG, please provide a car charger!!!) and anyone scared off by this would not touch any battery powered equipment anyway.

 
Let’s move on to the line trimmer.
This is a nice piece of equipment!
Unlike most battery line trimmers on the market, the motor is mounted where you would find the motor on a petrol trimmer. This is because the AEG is a split shaft machine and mounting the motor at the trimmer head would take away the ability to use attachments on it.
The trimmer is sold with only the line trim head, and AEG do not recommend any other attachment…however the Ryobi Expand-it line of attachments (Ryobi is owned by TTI, who own AEG) will fit straight on and work fine. I also tested the demonstrator unit with a universal fit attachment sold as fitting Rover line trimmers at a local mower shop. It also fit straight on and worked perfectly.
The line trimmer has a variable trigger control like a petrol throttle, but also has a two position switch. In the high speed setting this thing is absolutely manic! It will flatten a battery in 15-20 minutes running at full speed though… Put the switch on 1 and it still has more than enough speed and grunt to do lawn edge trimming after mowing, but the battery will now last from 6-8 lawns easily. Low setting is plenty for 90% of trimming work.
The attachment I trialled was a stick edger with a metal blade. These are very power hungry and it was cheeky asking this to run it. It did, although it needed to be in high setting and sucked battery very fast. Maintenance of path edges is ok, but it struggled dealing with an overgrown pathway. The hedge trimmer attachments use far less power and this would cope easily.
The unit is pretty well balanced, although it is moderately heavy. A shoulder strap would be a very welcome addition and I cannot fathom why one is not provided! There is a natural spot to fit one and I will be adding one to my own machine shortly. Please AEG, make this a standard feature!
imageThe guard that comes fitted to the trimmer head is huge, and unwieldy. A smaller guard is included in the box and it is advisable to fit this immediately. There is a bit of a trick to this, as the trim head has to come off to remove the old guard and to accomplish this the spool must be removed, and a bolt comes off to release the trim head body. This bolt is left hand thread! As is the spindle revealed when the body is removed…after which the collar comes off allowing access to the screws that hold the guard on. The replacement guard is a doddle to fit.
The trim head works well and is very easy to load. It takes a good length of 2.4mm line.
The reduced noise and lack of vibration are an absolute joy to anyone used to a 2 stroke trimmer…although the line whipping through the air is still loud enough to warrant earmuffs.
The line trimmer is commercial ready right now, and one battery would last the day for most people…two batteries would leave the hardest worker with some to spare.

I have purchased both of the units shown here and my business  is being transitioned into a zero emissions garden care service, as far as I know the first of its kind in Tasmania although several operate on the mainland. I have also purchased the leaf blower from this range and in due course intend to get the hedge trimmer and chainsaw to match. Having operated an electric car for over 40,000 kilometres I’m confident that I can manage battery issues and operate these units professionally.

I have made a video review of these machines which is on YouTube which you might also like to watch.

 

Here is a summary of good and bad points on both machines.

 

Lawn mower:

Good points
Plenty of power. Equals 160cc Victa 2 stroke or better.
Quiet. No need for hearing protection.
Little or no vibration.
Robust steel chassis.
Large rear wheels make rough ground easier to handle.
Quick fold handles.
Two battery slots means long run time.
Cut quality good.
Bags well
Mulches well
Side discharge chute
Single lever height adjustment

Bad points
Blades set higher than base of chassis. On lower settings chassis grounds unless surface is very even.
On lowest height setting there is a lot of drag from chassis brushing the grass low to the ground
Single bar blade vulnerable to damage and more expensive to replace than swing back type
Only 18″ cut!
No safety mechanism to stop blades running with handle folded or mower tilted

Trimmer:

Good points

Plenty of power
Head easy to reload
Split shaft can use attachments

Bad points

No strap
Fairly heavy with battery in

 

Thankyou for reading all the way through this, and if you’re located in southern Tasmania and would like to see these machines in action, check out www.milligangardens.com or go to www.facebook.com/milligangardens

 

Chinese carmaker BYD planning to come to Australia

Large Chinese carmaker BYD auto (Build Your Dreams) is planning a likely launch in Australia in the near future, initially offering its e6 electric people mover.

The e6 is touted as having an urban range of 300 kilometres, and with its 90kW 450Nm motor should have quite adequate performance.

BYD is aiming mainly at the taxi market, as the vehicle will be fairly expensive (likely to be around $80,000) but offers the unique EV prospect of high range and seven seats.

The cars will probably be distributed by Ateco, who already handle distribution of several Chinese brands.

First public charger in northern Tasmania goes live today!

Wed 25th Nov 2015.

Today at 1pm northern Tasmania’s first public EV charger will be launched at House of Anvers chocolate factory on the Bass Highway in Latrobe.

We here at Electric Highway believe that this is a shining role model for other tourist attractions throughout Tasmania. If most of the major tourist stops had charging points then it would be entirely possible to tour the whole state in an EV without any range worries, charging at each stop as you enjoy the activities.

Way to go Anvers!

Brighsun bus takes world record

Follwing on from the record breaking run from Melbourne to Sydney a few weeks ago, Brighsun has taken things a step further by conducting a long distance drive around Gippsland with a Guinness record adjudicator on board.

The bus completed 1,018 kilometres on a single charge, taking it further into the record books as the longest run by an electric road vehicle on a single charge.

Now I just want to see them appear in bus fleets…there is now absolutely no range excuse to prevent their introduction.

Electric bus to try for long distance record

Chinese-Australian company Brighsun is attempting a long distance record tomorrow morning, aiming to enter the Guinness record with the longest trip on one charge by an electric vehicle.

Currently the record is held by a Tesla Model S, at over 700 kilometres. Brighsun are attempting to better this by travelling from Melbourne to Sydney, a distance of almost 900 kilometres…in a bus!

The Brighsun buses are similar in most respects to conventional diesel buses, but have big battery packs to allow long range. The city bus has a 500 kWh pack while the tour coach has a 518 kWh pack.

Brighsun have expressed interest in opening a manufacturing facility here in Australia, based in Victoria and using the skill base that will be left behind when local car manufacture ceases in the next year and a half.

Click here for a YouTube video of the bus.

Tasmanian Government to trial electric vehicles

Tasmania’s Minister for Growth, Matthew Groom, has said at the Greenhouse 2015 conference in Hobart that the State Government will shortly begin a trial of electric vehicles in the Government fleet.

At least 19 EVs will be added to the government fleet before the end of 2015.

This marks a sharp shift in the attitude of Tasmania’s government towards electric vehicles, and is a positive move towards a more widespread take up of EVs in the Island State.

Volvo to add plug in hybrids across its entire model range by 2019

Swedish carmaker Volvo has announced that they will be adding plug in hybrid versions of every car in their model range as well as selling a purely electric car by 2019.

Volvo already have plug in hybrid versions of the XC90 SUV and V60 on the market, with the next model planned for hybrid being the luxury sedan S90.

Volvo’s CEO said that the company expects 10% of its sales to be electric vehicles by 2020, and that the time had come for electric vehicles to become mainstream instead of niche.

Volvo has experience with EVs already. For several years they build a pure EV version of the C30 for selected markets only, and have been making a limited range of plug in hybrids for a couple of years also in certain markets only. This announcement that they will extend PHEVs across their entire range is a bold commitment to the technology.

Two factors influencing Volvo’s enthusiasm are their home market of Scandinavia, where EVs have gained rapid market acceptance and take up (Norway has the highest EV ownership rates in the world per capita) and the growing push for low pollution vehicles in China. Volvo is owned by Geely Group, a Chinese company that bought the Swedish carmaker from Ford several years ago, and although they leave Volvo to make its own decisions the needs of the Chinese market do play a role.

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