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Old 04-21-2009, 03:24 PM   #2
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Default Wowza! A Gleaming Green Machine for Grooming Those Greens

Wowza! A Gleaming Green Machine for Grooming Those Greens

A lawnmower like this would rate right up there with a Hemi-powered Challenger or a full-blown Camaro as an object of lust and desire for the menfolk in a big swatch of the country - in states where lawns are measured in acres, not square feet as is the norm in Southern California, where we're from.

But whether a hefty commercial rider-mower, or a big-box home store's 21-inch push-it-yourself model, gasoline lawn mowers are not all that earth-friendly.

The EPA figures that, among other things, filling up gas mowers results in about 17 million (yup, million) gallons of fuel being spilled each year - almost 70 percent more spillage than the Exxon Valdez was responsible for - while a single gas mower is responsible for more annual air pollution than 43 new cars each driven 1,000 miles a month.
(Hear that, emissions regulators? Where's the lawnmower crackdown?)

So imagine our delight, and amazement, when we stumbled upon this baby Sunday afternoon at the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Institute's annual conference in Orlando, Fla.

It's not only big and beefy, it is green - eschewing gasoline for compressed natural gas carried in a pair of side-mounted, polished steel tanks.

There was no one in the booth, so we weren't able to cadge a test ride, but Indiana-based Dixie Chopper claims that in addition to being green, its Xcalibur Eco-Eagle commercial lawn cutter is the world's fastest mower by dint of its ability to execute zero-radius turns (fast in mowing is measured by the time it takes to trim a park or groom a golf course, not the mower's top speed in a straight line - the Xcalibur is rated at 9.2 acres an hour and we bet that means something to many of you.)

The CNG lawn mower, which has a 1-liter engine and cuts a 66-inch swath through a patch of grass - and looks like it could also topple brush and small trees - is the newest in Dixie Chopper's Xcalibur line (the company makes gasoline, diesel and propane models as well). It is getting its world debut at the Alt Fuels fest, which caters to an awful lot of government and commercial fleet operators and usually features trucks, buses and cars that run on stuff other than gasoline.

It's not cheap - no official price available yet but the other models in the line start at $11,700. But CNG costs a lot less than gasoline and runs a lot cleaner, so there are far fewer emissions and less engine maintenance to pay for - major ocnsideratins when you're a cash-strapped city parks department.

It looks like it would do our yard in about two passes.
Wonder how it would do in an eighth-mile against Edmunds' long-term natural gas Honda Civic GX?

NOTE (added April 21): We talked to the guys at the Dixie Chopper booth. The mower's top speed is 15 mph, so looks like the Civic would beat it
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