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WAIBLINGEN, Germany – Roughly 90 members of the media – whether it be local outlets or international writers – joined STIHL during its annual press event last month.
Among a medley of company announcements and happenings, STIHL introduced over a dozen new products at the event. Most of the products are coming soon to U.S. dealers, and between the blowers, chainsaws and a robotic mowing system, STIHL had plenty to show off at the event.
CHAINSAWS. The MSA 220 battery-powered chainsaw and MS 261 gasoline chainsaw are both coming to the U.S. in 2019, though a production change on the latter saw will push back its availability a bit longer than the MSA 220, which arrives this winter. The MSA 220 is STIHL’s most powerful chainsaw in that range and comes standard with a 3/8-inch Picco Super 3 full chisel saw chain and a guide bar 35 centimeters in length. The company reports that the chainsaw produces 30 percent more cuts per battery charge over comparable saws on the market.
Meanwhile, the MS 261 features a new guide bar and .325-inch chain that other gasoline-powered STIHL models haven’t featured. It’s a third-generation tool of its kind, and its cutting performance has been improved by roughly 20 percent over previous models. The MS 261 also features STIHL’s M-Tronic engine management system that accounts for external factors like temperature and altitude in its ignition timing and fuel metering. The chainsaw weighs just under 13 pounds.
BLOWERS AND MOWERS. The company also revealed its BGA 86 battery-powered blower, as well as the BR 800 blower that’s already on the American market but is new overseas. The BGA 86 aims to reduce noise while also offering a blowing force of 15 Newtons, 40 percent stronger than the BGA 85 model. The speed of the blower can be adjusted directly on the handle, and at maximum strength, it produces 91 decibels of sound. The blow pipe length is easily adjustable and a flat blow pipe is available as an accessory.
Additionally, the company showcased its revised iMow Robotic Mowers, which have some features that won’t translate to the U.S. market because the country doesn’t have the same Innogy SmartHome technology available in Europe. However, the Connected iMow technology will be available to U.S. buyers in early 2020. This means users can control robotic mowers from an app on their mobile phones. Users may also be able to control iMow services by voice control on Amazon Alexa.
STIHL’s RMA 756 V lawn mower will not be distributed in the U.S., but it was on display as it is coming to the German market.
OTHER TOOLS. STIHL also introduced a new pruner (GTA 26) and shrub shear (HSA 26) that will enter the American market in the spring and fall of 2020. These lightweight tools are part of STIHL’s newest cordless products and feature interchangeable batteries that can be purchased separately or together with a battery and charger.
STIHL’s new RG-KM cutting attachment (weed remover) hits the U.S. market this winter, which features a pair of spin-resistant, counter-rotating oscillating blades that can be used on various surfaces and limit damage via thrown stones or chippings. The new Advance X-Vent BT Helmet System is planned for U.S. distribution in 2020 but specific target dates are undetermined.
The MS 360 Chaps – which offer protection on the front, sides and back of an operator’s legs – won’t come to the U.S. due to high costs on importing fabric.
ODDS AND ENDS. Translators were on site during the company’s press conference, which had STIHL executives break down the team’s financial picture in Germany and abroad. The company reported slightly higher worldwide sales than last year, and the North American market was no different. Bertram Kandziora, STIHL executive board chairman, cited cordless products as a growing market, though gasoline-powered products remain the company’s bread-and-butter.
“We are firmly committed to continuing the development of gasoline power tools and simultaneously accelerating that of cordless products,” Kandziora said. “In order to meet the many-faceted needs of our customers as best we can, we will continue to concentrate on a product mix of gasoline and battery-powered tools.”
Kandziora also said that many retailers still had excess product stock last season worldwide because of unfavorable weather conditions in critical sales regions. Throw in increasing trade restrictions and uncertainty shrouding Brexit, and there’s a lot to manage internationally that affected sales numbers.
“All in all, we have only achieved a slight increase in unit sales in the first half of the year due to the challenging peripheral conditions,” Kandziora said. “There are, however, certain differences in the individual markets.”
In addition to debuting new products, STIHL also announced expansions to its brand shop and the location of its STIHL TIMBERSPORTS 2019 world championships. The event will be held at the Industrial Palace in Prague this November.
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