The launch of the new Kress CyberSystem™ charging battery platform and its accompanying range of commercial-grade land-care equipment was one of the biggest events of 2023.
The cream of Australia’s outdoor power equipment dealers gathered on the Queensland Sunshine Coast for one of 2023’s most anticipated events: the launch of the new Kress CyberSystem™ charging battery platform and its accompanying range of commercial-grade land-care equipment.
It was a gala affair in every respect, from the venue – the Novotel Twin Waters Resort – through the impressive Kress and parentcompany Positec executives in attendance, right through to the equipment itself.
But the highlight was the incredible CyberSystem™ and its ability to charge an 11Ah battery from zero to 100 per cent capacity in 8 minutes.
It doesn’t sound believable, but it was proven to a few doubters in the assembly in the most unarguable way.
Seeing is believing
Whether or not the CyberSystem™ and 11Ah CyberPack™ batteries needed special circumstances to achieve this stunning charge time was put to rest when a dealer from the group was chosen at random and invited to step on to the stage and check the available charge in a CyberPack™ battery. It was confirmed to be at zero. Totally depleted. He then slotted the CyberPack™ battery onto the CyberSystem™ charger and the stopwatch was started as an excited crowd looked on.
At just a few seconds short of 8 minutes the CyberPack™ battery was signalled done, the dealer checked and, there it was: 100 per cent fully charged and ready for work – in roughly the time it would take to enjoy a coffee and check a couple of phone messages.
It was an impressive demonstration in a day full of impressive demonstrations.
While a big target of the function was to set in place a dealer network for the new brand, it was also a good opportunity to show off the equipment and the battery platform, and Kress and the dealers took full advantage. Demo stations manned by product specialists were set up around the resort, and attendees were let loose on the equipment. Grass was cut, hedges trimmed, logs sawn…it seemed the Novotel received a great deal of sprucing up from an enthusiastic crew of professionals, which was a good deal all ’round.
There was even a decent heavy rain storm which served to demonstrate the gear’s IPX ratings and professional application. Rain or no rain, the Kress gear powered on.
Although Kress has big plans for its range in the very near future, the 60V Commercial equipment on offer at this event included:
• KAC875 CyberTank™
• KC711.9 Lawnmower
• KC100.9 Line Trimmer
• KC150.9 Lawn Edger
• KC170.9 Brushcutter
• KC200.9 Hedge Trimmer
• KC300.9 Chainsaw, and
• KC500.9 Backpack Blower.
The prosumer range was also on show and received a workout, so it was a comprehensive display.
Landscape Contractor Magazine was thrilled to be included in the group and was especially rapt to grab each of the tools and put them through their paces.
At the end of a very interesting day we came away more than impressed. We felt some of the tools – like the 60V line trimmer – were possibly a little heavier than their similarly powered petrol counterparts, but not by much. We’re not even confident we’re right about that, however, the backpack harness can be used to even out the weight of a battery on the tool. We’d need them side-by-side to be sure on weight, so it was very close. But the balance of all the tools was fantastic. Most of all, the power was a real eyeopener. This gear will go toe-to-toe with any petrol-engine gear we’ve used, and do it quietly, with minimal maintenance and zero emissions. The chainsaw knifed through logs, the line trimmers levelled large sections of heavy grass without any hesitation – the backpack harness version with a blade laid waste to some surprisingly dense bushland found nearby – and the mowers were a pleasure to use.
The backpack Blower should get a mention, because the Kress team set up some measured tracks and threw down a few timber blocks. The idea was to see how far the blocks could be pushed down the tracks by the airflow. As it turned out, the blocks were a secondary consideration. Anyone not ready for the full-power blast of the blower had to take a step back and lean into the product to stay on their feet, and soon cottoned on to adjusting the well-placed and easy-to-use variable-speed trigger to get the work done.
From our experience on the day, the Kress 60V range really will set new benchmarks in Australian landscaping equipment. It’s definitely professional standard in both build and performance, and of course, being cordless, the environmental advantages are obvious: no emissions; very quiet; and lowmaintenance.
An 11Ah battery that’ll charge in 8 minutes?
Positec – parent company of Kress – is an entity very much focussed on environmental responsibility, highlighted in the incredible statistic that, through solar generation, the Positec factory itself produces 110 per cent of the power it needs to operate in summer and 70 per cent in winter. At the head of the successful multinational entity is the eloquent and very personable founder and CEO, Don Gao.
Landscape Contractor Magazine enjoyed an unhurried afternoon with Mr Gao and was spellbound by his vision for not only Kress, but, after 30 years in the power-tool and lawn-and-garden industries, the world he was helping shape.
“My whole life is in the business,” he explained. “We have never produced an internal combustion engine. Always cordless and corded electric.”
“Lawn-and-garden and power tools was such a small industry segment we had to take whatever battery technology that was available from the big companies. Our industry has particular requirements, so every year we invested more than a million dollars to support a group of scientists to research in our area.”
Ready to go
“Everything’s ready,” smiled the relaxed executive. “In the northern hemisphere we’re already shipping.”
This was in answer to a query on availability. “I think it’s winter here, but if anyone wants to start early, we’re ready,” he chuckled.
Environmental responsibility and sustainability are clearly subjects on which Gao has passionate feelings.
“I think the world has just started trying to change,” he offered. “It’s hard, especially for professional powerequipment users. The most important thing is power and efficiency. The other thing is cost. Professional people need to make a living. Someone at home may use battery equipment for one hour a week. Professionals need to use it 8 hours a day.
“When we decided to design a professional system, we saw many problems. We’ve spent years and years developing this product.”
Kress in Australia
With the northern hemisphere such a huge market, we wondered what it was about Australia that Gao thought it such an attractive position.
“We have a mission,” he said. “More than 20 years ago when the company started its journey we put forward a motto: ‘our mission: zero emissions’.
“If we really want zero emissions, we need to be in every part of the world, right? If going green is our mission, we don’t want to let one part go. Australia is also part of the globe. And Australia is a sizable business. DIY use here in Australia is the highest per capita in the world.
“Kress is predominantly a solution for professionals, but we also have a prosumer range for those with a bigger garden and for those looking at a tougher situation than DIY tools can handle.”
Breaking a new product
As for breaking a new brand into the established market, not only is Gao and his team not fazed by the challenge, he appears to relish the idea, and his belief in the new technology he’s offering shines bright.
“Professionals buy 99 per cent of equipment in the traditional channels,” he said, lighting up in his very polished way. “When a new brand comes along, people say, ‘Oh. A new brand. Welcome.’ They don’t really care because they’re stuck with the brands they’ve been using for years, sometimes generations. If your product is just a little bit better, who cares?
“But last year I was doing road shows and the reception was phenomenal. People really understand the world is changing. A little improvement or evolution on the current product is not going to do the job. Industry’s saying, ‘Finally! It’s here!’
“Those are the kinds of reactions we’re getting.”
The future for Kress
For all his urbane polish, Don Gao is clearly not a man to sit still. He and the company he represents are constantly moving forward. We pondered out loud what the future might hold for Kress, and for Kress in Australia in particular.
“We’re not looking at compact earthmoving equipment yet,” offered Gao, choosing his words carefully. “At the moment we’re looking at landscaping equipment and not so much earthmoving plant. We’re focussed on lawn and garden.
“First we will globally launch Kress, then we will move to the next level.”
Zero-turn mowers are definitely on the Kress radar, and it was even hinted that there’ll be robotic zero-turn mowers.
The range on offer at the launch should just about fit out a landscaper from top to bottom, but as we tried to absorb all we could see, Don Gao was clearly envisioning a future with a far larger and more advanced Kress catalogue.
Having met the man, we’ve no doubt that catalogue is well under way, and his charge to help form a world free of emissions will stay top of the Kress priorities.
Keep up with this fast-moving company – if you can – at kress.com.