By Matthew Henry

SYDNEY: Victa will launch its first range of electric-powered lawn mowers next month as the company tries to address rising environmental concerns and adapt to the growth in urban population.

The company will launch two Victa Lawnkeeper electric mowers targeting the growing number of city-dwelling Australians with small to medium-sized lawns, who often consider petrol-powered mowers overkill, and impractical due to their bulky metal frames, noise and pollution.

“With increasing environmental concerns and urbanisation, there is a demand for more compact and lightweight products,” said Victa marketing manager, Greg McKinley.

“The Lawnkeeper models are fitted with electric motors that provide enough power and torque to suit most small to medium-sized lawns.”

The range will include a 30cm and 36cm cutting width model, with features including metal cutting blades, ergonomic fold-away handlebars, built-in auto-stop mechanism and a lightweight catcher. Both models are designed to be compact to store, easy to use and durable enough for regular use.

The local lawn mower industry has suffered in recent years as many parts of Australia have continued to battle with the worst drought in 100 years.

McKinley anticipates another difficult year ahead.

“The 2006 to 2007 season is sure to again provide significant challenges to local mower manufacturers, with the combination of drought and water restrictions, the influx of cheap imported products – aided by the strong Australian dollar – and record raw material prices, which continue to place upward pressure on prices,” he said.

Victa will soon introduce its first range of petrol-powered mowers to use imported parts, which is expected to be a low-end price-fighter to compete with the abundance of Chinese-made imported mowers in the market.

The iconic Australian manufacturer’s announcement that it would source products from overseas cause significant media uproar last year, but McKinley believes the products will be of good quality. 

“Victa firmly believes that its experience, rigorous quality standards and design strength – which ensures all domestic mowers meet Australian Standard 2657 – along with global sourcing and local assembly will provide the foundation for continued industry leadership,” said McKinley.