Grit Blogs > The Daily Commute

World’s First Production Electric ZTR Mower

By Hank Will, Editor-in-Chief

Tags: ,

The folks at Hustler Turf of Hesston, Kansas, plan to introduce the Hustler Zeon, a clean-sheet-designed, battery-powered, zero-turning-radius mower at the Green Industry Expo in Louisville, Kentucky, later this month. They called us late last week to tell us their news, and I immediately asked whether I might take a pre-Louisville look at the concept, which is just what I did today.

Hustler Zeon

Wow, is about all I can say. The Zeon is a full-fledged ZTR mowing concept that is eerily quiet, simple to control, comfortable to operate and doesn’t generate a single bit of pollution directly. You don’t have to wear ear protection, breathe fumes or get all heated up while keeping the lawn lovely with this new machine. In addition to the obvious advantages of electric, this mower has many fewer moving parts than its hydro/mechanically motivated counterparts and is simple to build and to maintain. Gone are belts, hydraulic hoses and controls, pulleys, PTO clutches and other bits and pieces that require routine maintenance and adjusting. In their place, the Zeon uses a pair of DC motors to drive the cutting blades directly and a pair of microprocessor-controlled AC motors to control the drive wheels. Speed and direction are controlled with a pair of levers, as with most ZTR mowers. When the mowing is finished, just plug the machine into a standard outlet, and it will be ready for work the next time you need it.  

Hustler Zeon Left Side

The Zeon is rated to easily mow an acre on a single charge. An integrated battery minder will shut the deck off when the juice gets critically low to leave enough energy to bring the mower back to the shed for a recharge.

Zeon pricing hasn’t been determined, but expect the initial 48-volt 42-inch cut, side-discharge deck equipped model to be priced competitively with similarly-sized high quality ZTRs.

Zeon Left Rear View

Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on .

hank will_2
10/23/2008 12:47:14 PM

Hey Jerry -- It's good to know you all are getting the dealer network setup. I think there will be plenty of demand. I have spent quite a bit of time around the GE tractors of old. In fact I wrote quite a bit about them in my latest book , "Classic Garden Tractors," which is a history of garden tractors in America. You can read more about it here: Thanks. Hank

jerry rhodes
10/23/2008 11:52:35 AM

Mr Will I set corrected, ours is not a ZTR, but we are doing production and shows at this time, we will be at the Ft Wayne, IN Lawn & Garden show this weekend. We will be shipping to Canada soon and we are working with a dealer in Fla for that area. As the website said, used the old proved design of years ago, so we have versatility an longevity in the use of all the old GE an Wheelhorse attachments, again thank you Jerry METI

hank will_2
10/23/2008 10:22:04 AM

Hey Jerry -- I have been aware of METI and I applaud your work. I wasn't aware that you have a zero-turning-radius (ZTR) product, or that you have entered production on any machines. Your website doesn't indicate that either is the case. If you are ready to ship mowers or tractors, or have a ZTR design for sale that I am not aware of, please send me the information. I am eager to help you spread the word.

jerry rhodes
10/23/2008 10:00:14 AM

Mr Will, your headline is now true, Modern Electric Tractors Inc of Paulding, OH has been mfgg all electric tractor/mowers for sseveral months now, I know I'm one of the builders. their website is , thank you Jerry Rhodes METI

reuben gathright
10/15/2008 7:35:26 AM

We should all do our part to save the enviroment and encourage the growth of the solar and wind power industries. Cordless electric lawn mowers go a long ways towards these goals. I recently purchased the Black & Decker Cordless Electric Lawnmower the CMM1200. I hope my review will help you make a decision about our future.

hank will_2
10/6/2008 7:24:57 AM

Hey Greg- There is a motor for each rear wheel. they take the place of the two hydrostatic drives in the conventional petroleum-powered ZTR. Clyde -- I believe that Hustler will provide the foolproof filler that you describe as part of the package.

clyde schwanke
10/5/2008 8:18:25 AM

I would prefer the flooded batteries myself. Their performance per dollar in a nearly constant current draw application would make them ideal. They are also very forgiving if mistreated with the exception of allowing them to get low on water. There are on-board watering systems available now that only require dropping a hose in the distilled water jug and squeezing a rubber bulb until water comes out the overflow. It would take about as much time and effort as checking the oil on an gas powered mower and you would only be handling a gallon jug of distilled water.

greg washburn
10/3/2008 5:23:06 PM

Is there one motor for each wheel? Or is it like a regular ZTR?

greg washburn
10/3/2008 5:22:46 PM

Is there one motor for each wheel? Or is it like a regular ZTR?

hank will_2
10/3/2008 11:04:57 AM

The batteries in the prototype are not sealed Clyde. They are considering ways to make water management simple ... I didn't ask whether there would be a sealed battery option when they go into production in the spring.

clyde schwanke
10/3/2008 10:51:44 AM

Were those "sealed" lead acid batteries? They require a good automatic battery management system. The fact that it shuts you down when they get low means you can get back to the charging station but more importantly it prevents the owner from damaging the battery pack. It has to be a "fool-proof" system to work for the general public!

hank will_2
10/3/2008 10:34:41 AM

oops, multitasking is taking its toll today. My second paragraph below should read: The drive motors and final drives are integral ... they are sourced from Hydro-Gear, which is the maker of a large proportion of hydro transmissions used in the lawn and garden industry.

hank will_2
10/3/2008 10:30:35 AM

Hey Clyde -- Right now, the machine uses 4 deep cycle lead-acid batteries. I was really impressed with the well thought out power management system. Their goal is to alleviate virtually any possibility of getting stranded out in the backyard without the juice to get to the charge station. Solar charging is on their long list of future possibilities, which also includes a complete product line. The drive motors are directly coupled to gear I have used an IH Cadet 95 electric riding mower ... a friend owns one. This machine is of the same vintage as the JD and GE models. Interestingly, the Wheel Horse is a GE in red livery. Wheel Horse eventually bought the GE line. GE also made electric tractors for AVCO New Idea back in the day.

clyde schwanke
10/3/2008 9:49:00 AM

It appears they have combined all the latest proven reliable components that lend themselves to the currently most popular ZTR design. I trust the battery type and charge/discharge management is as well thought out. I wonder if a solar charging garage for it will be offered at some point? I have owned several GE ElecTrac, Wheel Horse, and JD electric riders during the last 30 years which are all still working great considering their 50-year old technology.