Will Fuel Prices Influence Future Equipment Purchases?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by MOturkey, Sep 14, 2005.

  1. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,757

    Even though gasoline is going down a bit in price, at least around here, I think most of us realize the days of cheap gas are over. I personally think $2 or so a gallon is going to be about as low as we ever see it again. I hope I'm wrong, but everything seems to be pointing that way.

    I am wondering if extended (permanent?) higher fuel costs will influence what you choose to purchase with regards to larger power equipment? I noted a thread today about electronic fuel injection (EFI) engines, and their improved fuel economy. It was noted that many dealers are not pushing them, at least in part perhaps because they don't have the correct diagnostic equipment or trained technicians. My own dealer told me as much a year or so ago when I mentioned them, saying they would have to send someone to school if they started selling many of them.

    Diesels, of course, are another, fuel miserly alternative. I also recall my dealer, some 3 1/2 years ago, when I was mower shopping saying he wasn't sure you could ever mow enough to recoup the difference in cost between a gasoline and diesel engine. Of course, as I recall, fuel was only a bit over the $ mark in this area at the time. Things have changed, for sure.

    One person in the latest thread mentioned he believed he was using approximately .9 gallons of gas per hour with his EFI engine, on a bigger mower than mine. I use approximately 1.3 gph with my Kawasaki 23, so if gasoline is say, $2.50 per gallon, a tenth would cost 25 cents. Saving me $1.00 per hour in fuel costs, not to mention covering more ground in the same hour with a larger deck, making the fuel savings more dramatic.

    So, for those of you who have been using carbureted engines for years, will you seriously look at something different for your next purchase? If you commonly put say, 2,000 hours on your mower before retiring or trading it, and could save $1 or more per hour in fuel costs, and an EFI engine only ran $1,000 or so more, it looks like a no-brainer to me, assuming all other maintenance costs remain about the same. Diesels perhaps offer even more fuel savings, but with perhaps greater difference in the initial cost.

    Also, do you think fuel costs might change the trend toward increasingly higher horsepower engines? Seems eveyone is pushing, or passing, the 30 horse level on their 60 inch or so mowers. Even the diesels are getting bigger. Gravely seems to be one exception. Their current diesels are only 27 horse, and I'm anxious to see if next year's offerings remain the same, bucking the trend, or if they will add bigger engine options.

    I'm sure lots of guys like to brag of the horses their mower puts out, but when it starts showing up negatively on the bottom line, will that market start to dry up? Remember the gas-guzzlers of the 60's and 70's? I'm betting some of these people running around in 10 mpg SUV's and trucks, who don't really need them, are starting to rethink their next purchase as well.

    Anyhow, I'm just interested to see how many of you are starting to think along different lines.
  2. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,210

    good thoughts, i just got a Ferris 1000z with a 27hp efi kohler, i FEEL it eats gas, but this is my first zero turn mower, used to walk behinds with 15hp or less lol. I think the runtime is 10 or 11hrs for 11 gallons so im figuring i hope i get 10hrs at least for both tanks to empty. The 27hp is more than many 23/25ish hp kawasaki models though so id think it eats more than a less hp engine. I never knew it was fuel injected until i read the manual AFTEr buying it and then looking, fuel pump, injectors, fuel rail lol, no crap! Until then i didnt know they had ANY lawnmower engines EFI yet. that rocks!
  3. Keith

    Keith LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,977

    When I bought my 60" Super Z with 27 carbed Kohler two years ago, I noted that I was using about 25% more fuel with it than my 60" Lazer with 26 EFI. At that time the EFI was not quite ready for the Super Z. That and the fact that my Exmark EFI had so many problems in the first 6 months that I owned it made it an easy decision. Gas was about $1.40 here at that time. I looked at as an option that would never pay off. On a Lazer their was a pretty good difference in price between the standard Lazer and the EPS. The EFI Super Z's came out and the prices I was getting quoted seemed to be much closer to the carbed engine. At that point I would still take the carbed engine. Now 2 years later and gas prices are more than double what they were then, I would take a little harder look at the EFI. Even now, as my EFI Lazer sits broke down in my shop :rolleyes:
  4. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 14,700

    It will make no difference in my purchase decisions. If you feel that fuel is that big of a issue just raise mowing prices to compensate. Even if all you go up is 1 or 2 dollars it will still pay for the increased fuel prices.
  5. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 9,501

    Mowers, no. Trucks, yes.
  6. Mark McC

    Mark McC LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,565

    Also bear in mind that oil prices have oscillated wildly over the past thirty years. While it seems safe to assert that oil and gas will remain high for the next 24 months, an economic downturn in China coupled with increased production (Russia is working feverishly on their ability to pump more of the stuff) could reverse the current trend in very short order.
  7. MOW ED

    MOW ED LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,028

    I have 2 EFI mowers and would never consider a carbed engine again. I am doing quite well on gas with them. I do own a 15hp Kohler that is a tough engine but it isn't used on all properties so gas consumption isn't a major issue. Diesel would only be cost efficient if it was an 8 hour a day mower as the extra cost of the machine is hard to make up for a smaller business. I do like diesels for many other reasons but I can't justify one for my operation.

    Keith, what is the deal with your EFI. I only had one problem and it was a warranty issue. The screen on the fuel pump was too fine and the pump overworked and burned out. It was a Bosch design problem and it was replaced at no cost. Since then I have had really good luck with the engine.
  8. Keith

    Keith LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,977

    Don't know. Tuesday, I loaded it on the trailer to head to another account, tried to start it and it did nothing. Well, the fuel pump comes on, but that's it. I did not have time to get to it last night to check it out. I was thinking it was just a safety interlock failed or maybe even the starter.

    The problems when I first got the mower, that was a different story. But, it has been near perfect for two years, although it does not have that many hours on it.
  9. Itsgottobegreen

    Itsgottobegreen LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,177

    Yes. Which is why I am going with a full shop of diesel stuff. Two new diesel ZTRs coming soon. Since a buddy of mine and I are building a bio-diesel generator. So we can make our own bio-diesel for $.75 a gallon. YAHOO!

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