2019 GIE+EXPO recap: Companies showcase numerous new ZTRs

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Photo: John DeerePhoto: John Deere

This year’s GIE+EXPO showcased a multitude of new zero-turn mowers across numerous brands. Take a look at what these brands had to offer this year and what’s on the horizon for 2020.

John Deere

At this year’s GIE+EXPO, John Deere showcased its new Z955R ZTrak zero-turn mower, a new 72-inch deck size on the diesel Z994R ZTrak zero-turn mower.

The company says the Z955R is equipped with an Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) engine and is also designed to increase fuel efficiency and productivity throughout the day.

Featuring a 60-inch side-discharge deck and powered by a 29-horsepower EFI engine, John Deere says the Z955R provides landscape professionals with an EFI engine at a higher horsepower, which the company says allows the Z955R to collect material, mow in thick turf conditions and mulch.

With the Z955R, the company says users will gain three key things: the parking brake, the foot lever and the comfort and convenience handles. The company says the handles have buttons inside the top of the handle; one side will kill the PTO and the other will raise and lower the deck or disengaged the mower’s blades.

Another added feature John Deere notes is the addition of new 24-inch high-back seating and ComfortGlide suspension, which allows the seat to travel up to two inches to the front and back. John Deere adds that these seats feature lumbar support, a control dial and seat latch for seat lifting.

Photo: John DeerePhoto: John Deere

The company also debuted the Z994R with a new 72-inch deck option.

Powered by a Final Tier 4, three-cylinder, liquid-cooled diesel engine with gross SAE J1995, PS 24.7 horsepower rated power at 3200 rpm, the Z994R is also equipped with a single 11.5-gallon diesel fuel tank.

There are two seating options available for the Z994R and both feature the ComfortGlide suspension seat.

Cub Cadet

Cub Cadet introduced the PRO Z 972 SDL, a commercial zero-turn that can handle up to a 25-degree slope and features a self-leveling air-ride seat.

Cub Cadet says the seat, which automatically levels 15 degrees in each direction side to side, offers a full 30 degrees of self-leveling that improves operator comfort when mowing steep hillsides.

Photo: Cub CadetPhoto: Cub Cadet

Outfitted with a 35-horsepower Kawasaki engine and a triple-plated steel cutting deck, Cub Cadet says this machine comes equipped with dual rear wheels, which allow operators to mow tough terrain with a higher level of stability and precision.

With its four-wheel steering system, Cub Cadet adds that this mower also offers total control and a comfortable straight-line mow, even on hillsides.

Cub Cadet says who also added on a fully integrated lighting system that includes strobes, LED lights on the side for the deck and upfront lighting at the front of the deck.

The company says the PRO Z 972 SDL is backed by a three-year, no-hour-limit warranty and a five-year, 1,750-hour limited deck warranty, and it will be available for purchase in February 2020.


The Ariens and Gravely brands rolled out a number of new mowers and announced updates on some of their product lines during the 2019 GIE+EXPO.

Photo: AriensPhoto: Ariens

One of the new launches includes Ariens’ first commercial zero-turn mower, Zenith. This ZTR was first introduced in the United Kingdom and Europe and following its success, Ariens is opening the product line to markets in the U.S., Canada and other regions of the Americas.

All Zenith models are powered by commercial Kawasaki FX engines, feature Hydro-Gear ZT-3100 transaxles and have deck sizes of 48-inch, 52-inch and 60-inch.

Zenith is built on a one-piece, fully welded tubular frame rail. There is a reinforced leading edge on the front and trim sides of the gauge welded deck. Cold-forged aluminum spindles generate less heat than traditional cast-iron designs.

The deck shell and frame come with a lifetime warranty for each unit’s original registered owner. Zenith features a four-point deck hanging system, providing stability in diverse mowing terrains. The 5.5-inch deck depth can lift grass and discharge clippings effectively and evenly.

The constant deck belt tensioning system ensures the same pressure is applied to deck belts to minimize belt slip and consistent cut quality as the belt wears.

Ariens says it has also included several ergonomic features to improve operator comfort. This includes an adjustable high back seat allowing operators of any height to reach the deck lift pedal. Zenith has 15 cutting heights and operators can lift the deck while using a vertical-pin selector to choose a height from 1.5 to 5 inches. Vibrations are reduced with rubber shock isolators under the seat and adjustable steering control levers.

Photo: GravelyPhoto: Gravely

The Zenith line will enter dealerships in early 2020.

On the Gravely side of things, the brand introduced the Pro-Turn MACH ONE, which is a commercial lawn mower with a unique tunnel deck design.

The MACH ONE is built on the Gravely Pro-Turn 200 chassis but swaps out the XFactor II mower deck for the high-volume output (HVO) tunnel deck. Gravely says this new mower was born out of landscapers’ need for more efficient cutting solutions when working in thick and challenging grass breeds.

The aerodynamics of a tunnel deck direct grass clippings away from the mower blades so they are less likely to get bogged down with material clumping around the blades. The deck depth is also designed so the trimming edge measures 5.5 inches deep and gradually increases to 7.75 at the discharge end. This allows for material to be processed, not bog down the blades and be evenly distributed through the oversized discharge opening.

The HVO deck is made with 7-gauge steel and comes with cold-forged aluminum spindles and constant belt tension.

The mower deck has a four-inch buffer area from the leading edge of the deck to the front of the blades, giving uncut grass blades more of a chance to be lifted by the vacuum of the mower deck after being pushed down by the leading deck edge. This helps eliminate the need to double cut while not sacrificing cut speed.

The MACH ONE comes with a 31-horsepower Kawasaki FX engine, Hydro-Gear ZT-5400 transaxles, a 60-inch mower deck. It will be available in early 2020.

Photo: GravelyPhoto: Gravely

As for the Pro-Turn Z series, Gravely has updated this line by adding a two-stage, commercial canister filtration system to its 764cc Gravely engine.

The two-stage canister is designed to filter higher volumes of dust, dirt and debris adding protection and a longer lifespan for the engine. This comes with an upgraded engine guarantee to match the unit’s four-year/750-hour warranty, whichever comes first.

Current Pro-Turn Z owners can purchase an air filtration conversion kit that switches intake filtration from a panel-style to the two-stage canister style.

Gravely is also expanding the Pro-Turn Z’s deck offerings to include a 48-inch deck option. This deck has commercial features like cold-forged aluminum spindles, constant belt tensioning and 5.5-inch depth with an introductory price point, making it a good fit for entry-level landscapers.

It has 15 different cutting heights and larger front and rear tires for increased durability and efficiency. The Pro-Turn Z will be exclusively available at Gravely dealerships in early 2020.

Mean Green Mowers 

At this year’s GIE+EXPO, Mean Green Mowers unveiled its new autonomous commercial electric zero-turn mower, also known as ATOM.

By partnering with The Kobi Company to create the ATOM, Mean Green says it hoped to develop a safe and affordable, large area robotic mower that could lend a hand to the increasing labor shortage facing the green industry.

Photo: Beth Hyatt/Total Landscape CarePhoto: Beth Hyatt/Total Landscape Care

The company says there have been numerous autonomous mowers created over the years, but so far, none have been able to meet market expectations regarding accuracy, price, versatility and safety. That is, Mean Green says, until ATOM came on the scene.

The ATOM utilizes an artificial intelligence (AI) system to navigate around properties and mow, which he says is very different from any of the other robotic mowers present at the expo. There is no setup or base station required on the ATOM; it simply operates off of the sensors and cameras.

Since the machine is equipped with AI technology, the company says it has a human detection element that will prevent it from running into a person working alongside it on the jobsite.

Kobi says the KobiVision system continuously calculates the position of the mower with an accuracy of within half an inch. According to the company, KobiVision is typically more accurate, more reliable and faster than autonomous systems based on wires, beacons and/or GPS.

In addition to the cameras of the KobiVision system, Kobi says there are several other safety sensors. The company adds that it will also ensure safe distance and speed, as well as mowing close to boundaries and edges and around obstacles.


Photo: ToroPhoto: Toro

Starting off the company’s collection of new products was the Z Master 7500-G 96” gas mower, which features Toro’s Horizon onboard intelligence platform.

The company says the massive mowing deck can fold its wings up to 75 inches, allowing it to fit on most standard trailers, and the wings flex up to 20 degrees and down to 15 degrees, which hug the ground as you mow. Toro adds that when the engine isn’t on, operators can still lift and fold the deck and run fans for cooling with the 40-amp charging system.

Toro adds that this machine is built to last with a protective engine hood, bullnose bumper, 250-lb. Warner clutch and a 7-gauge deck.


Also during the show, Kioti Tractor threw its hat in the ring for the zero-turn mower market.

While the brand has been supplying tractors in the 22 to 110 horsepower range to the U.S. and Canadian markets for more than 30 years now, Kioti announced at this year’s GIE+EXPO its first mower line.

Photo: KiotiPhoto: Kioti

The line consists of 12 models across four series: ZXR, ZXR SE, ZXC and ZXC SE. The ZXR and ZXR SE models are designed for property owners and hobby farmers. The ZXC and ZXC SE models are made for commercial cutters.

The company says it took top-shelf components and combined them with in-house manufacturing to create its mowers. As for why the company decided to enter what many would consider a saturated market, the company says it felt like it could offer some differentiation.

One example of a need Kioti has worked to fulfill was improving the ergonomics of the controls, which were harder for smaller framed people to reach. The seat and deck lift lever on the mowers are positioned so the ZTRs comfortably accommodate users of all shapes and sizes. Kioti says optimized control connections and linkages help create a precise and responsive driving experience.

There are no keys to Kioti’s ZTRs. Instead, operators enter a code to start the mower. The screen will also display basic diagnostics. When it is time for maintenance, landscapers can easily access all the necessary regions by lifting the footplate or the seat to reach the parts.

The commercial series also features a 12.5-gallon gas tank, which cuts down on refueling.

Customers can choose from a 48-, 54-, or 60-inch deck size. Each mower has a fabricated, reinforced 10-gauge steel deck, 7-gauge leading edge and standard notch blades.

The ZXR and ZXC Series both have standard and premium models. The premium commercial models feature the Kohler Command Pro engines and the standard commercial models use the Briggs & Stratton Commercial Series engines.

The ZXC engine horsepower ranges from 23 to 27 while the ZXC SE engine horsepower runs from 22.5 to 25.

Kioti says these engines paired with Hydro-Gear transmissions provide reliable, hardworking performance. The belt routing has also been optimized to reduce vibration and improve belt life.

Another difference between the premium and standard ZTRs is the seat suspension. The standard commercial models have 1.5-inch suspension, while the premium commercial models come with 3-inch suspension and a high back seat. Headlights also come standard on the premium models.

For more information contact your local dealer or click here.

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