Golf is typically a game for those with more leisure time, and as more baby boomers are reaching retirement, golf courses should see increases in attendance. Nevertheless, emissions and noise regulations, especially with golf courses backing onto residential areas, are becoming more stringent. In response to both, John Deere has introduced two new hybrid fairway mowers, the 7500 and 8500 E-Cut models.
The hybrid models are built on the existing platform of PrecisionCut fairway mowers but with the addition of a new electric-reel system. The issues facing the standard models are noise and the use of hydraulically powered reels, increasing the chance that over time the hydraulic lines will wear and leak fluid on the course. The hybrid models allow the engine to run more slowly while powering the reels with brushless electric motors at a constant 2200 rpm, giving quiet, steady running. The steady electric motor speed also gives a more uniform cut.
Deere cites statistics that the E-Cut line offers up to a 30% reduction in fuel costs "by making the mowing process even more efficient and cost-effective." Both models are powered by 1.5-L three-cylinder Yanmar diesels, the 7500 with 37 hp (28 kW) and the 8500 with 43 hp (32 kW).
GRIP all-wheel-drive traction control is optional on both models. Although the hydraulic systems connecting the mowing reels have been eliminated, the drive system is still hydraulically powered. The GRIP option sends hydraulic flow from slipping wheels to those with traction to prevent the 2236-lb (1014-kg) 7500 model and the 2340-lb (1061-kg) 8500 model from damaging the turf. GRIP is always engaged when driving forward; there are no electronics to engage the system, simplifying the electrical system and the design of the valve at the rear of the machine.
As with any mowing purchase, the utility is measured by cutting width and speed. Both models have 100-in (2540-mm) cutting widths, making the wide stripes favored by golfers. The reels used are Deere’s Speed Link system, which enables height adjustments as minute as one-thousandth-of-an-inch to both sides of the cutting unit simultaneously. Other reel options are available including brushes, greens conditioners, rollers, and grass catchers. The mowers have a top speed of 8 mph (13 km/h).
Steering in a straight line is necessary to achieve the stripe effect, and the 7500 and 8500 are fitted with a double-acting steering cylinder to balance right and left pressure for this reason.