Coming to Detroit Auto Show, a New Model That Mows Lawns


Features of the new CTX, to be introduced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next month, includes automatic traction control, electronic fuel management, cruise control and a console with cupholders. But it’s not a car or a truck: it’s a lawn tractor, which requires spare tractor parts for repairs.

According to Kris Malkoski, Craftsman vice president and general manager, CTX is a premium tractor series, priced from $3,000 to $6,500, and available “loaded with automotive features.”

“Premium tractor purchasers typically own their own homes, have two acres or more of property and they really care about how their landscaping looks to others,” Ms. Malkoski said in a telephone interview. “And they like their tractors to offer creature comforts and special features, which mirrors the trends seen in the automotive category.”

No infotainment system is available, at least not yet. “Future models will have a plug-in for the iPod,” she said. Craftsman, which celebrates its 85th anniversary under Sears auspices in 2012, will have a booth in the auto show’s concourse area and passers-by will be encouraged to pose for photos on the tractor.

Carmakers worried about an invasion of lawn tractors need not worry, says Joe Rohatynski, an auto show spokesman. “The show itself is being kept exclusively to new vehicles from the world’s automakers and tier one suppliers,” he said in a telephone interview. “Visitors will see Craftsman along with many other family-oriented exhibits, including contests and kids’ zones, in the lobby of Cobo Center.”

The CTX produces up to 30 horsepower from the Briggs & Stratton motor. Eight miles an hour is achievable. The new entry, on sale at Sears stores in February, would presumably be a hot prospect for events staged by the United States Lawn Mower Racing Association, because  many lawn tractors leave the factory with five- or six-horsepower engines. According to the official rules, the competition is open to “all self-propelled rotary or reel style” mowers. “I think it would win every race,” Ms. Malkoski said.

“Bring it on,” said Bruce Kaufman, the founder and president of the racing association, who notes that a sense of humor is “strongly encouraged.” He said in a telephone interview that some modified racing lawnmowers produce 45 horsepower and reach 60 m.p.h. or more.

He noted that lawn-mowing equipment actually has a history at auto shows. The association brought a small fleet of competitive tractors to the opening day of the 2006 show in New York, he said.

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