Stihl Manufacturing and New Products

Stihl will celebrate 50 years in America this year. The company leased its first Virginia Beach manufacturing facility in 1974 and employed 50 people there. They chose V Beach for its proximity to a deep-water port, for the skilled workforce in the area, and because of local financial support. Today, the company employees a few thousand people, manufacturers a wide range of products and accessories, and exports products from here to 75 countries. You can buy a U.S.-made Stihl chain saw in China, they say.

We visited the manufacturing facility and U.S. HQ (much larger today, and no longer leased) to see ongoing updates, and to look at new equipment.

Manufacturing Facility

We began our factory tour in the engine-parts plant, internal combustion engines, that is. Using scores of machines that are nearly entirely automated, Stihl machines pistons and crankshafts. They purchase near-net castings of these components (“near-net casting” is a metal casting process that produces parts that require only minor machining and heat-treating finish work). They then finish the components and assemble engines. Each engine is hooked to a fuel supply and started before leaving the factory.

Stihl’s injection-molding operation is massive, with 60 machines running around the clock and employing 55 people. “We make about 2 million plastic parts each week,” said Donny Tabor, engineering manager for injection molding and polymers. Each machine, about the size of a small school bus, is monitored virtually, with a computer tablet on each one sharing loads of data. Quality checks are required every 60 minutes to the work flowing. In 2018, Stihl invested about $1 million in a two-shot molding process that can create components with two different plastic finishes.

In a space that was a warehouse up to 2018, Stihl now extrudes all its trimmer line – nearly 200,000 miles worth a year. It receives polymers from various suppliers and extrudes line into four different shapes and eight colors. Large computer screens through the space show a range of manufacturing data. “We do a lot to watch the metrics of our business,” said Eric Beaver, trimmer line plant manager. They also make trimmer packaging and the spool inserts, winding the line at the end. “We want as much control as possible over our processes,” he said.

Stihl battery-powered tools are assembled, mostly by hand, in a newer and expanding battery plant. This facility, perhaps half full currently, includes short assembly and packaging lines. Stihl is adding assembly infrastructure in the space as demand for battery-powered equipment rises.

Speaking of batteries, we spoke with Stuart Morrison, V.P. of manufacturing, during a lunch break. “We’re in an interesting time,” he said, “a transformation, and I just left a meeting where we talked about 2028 products.” While Morrison would not divulge details about those future products, he did talk about the evolution of battery technology. “Power for handheld equipment is right where it needs to be today,” he said. He left the thought open about commercial-grade equipment. He said that Stihl is working on tabless battery cell designs; tabless lithium-ion cells feature broader pathways for current to travel through the cell to a motor. Some tools and Tesla EVs use tabless cells today.

Finished with the discussion of battery cells, Morrison thanked us for visiting, and talked about his pride in wearing Stihl logo apparel when he travels. He said people often approach him to talk about how they love their Stihl chainsaw or trimmer. “Our brand reputation is very important to us. And we stay successful because we listen to customers.”

New Products

Following lunch, we saw and tried a few of Stihl’s newest power equipment. Here are a couple highlights, and you can read more on our website.

Walk-behind mowers, commercial and residential

Stihl RMA 765 V

Stihl calls this the most powerful battery-powered push mower in its AP battery system. It’s dual blades are synchronized, and it has a 24.8-inch-wide cutting deck. Users can store the mower with the handle folded or unfolded, and on all four wheels or upright. This mower has an MSRP of $2,300.

Stihl walk-behind mowers
Stihl product manager Andrew Johnson goes over details of the new walk-behind mower.

Stihl RM series mowers


Stihl is entering the gas-powered walk-behind mower market in the U.S., with four new models, the RM 655 V, RM 655 VS, RM655 YS, and RM 756 YC. The 655-series mowers use a unique one-side handle which eases access to the hard polymer catch bag. A Kohler 173cc engine powers each of these mowers. All three are self-propelled. The V model ($1000) is the basic belt-drive model. The VS ($1,200) has a blade-brake clutch. And the YS ($1,600) model features a hydrostatic transmission. They have 21-in. cutting decks. These mowers have been available in European markets for a few years. Stihl said the 765 model, with its 21-inch cutting deck, is designed for professional use. It uses a Kohler 200cc engine and hydrostatic transmission. It retails for $2,000.

Robotic Mowers

Stihl is updating its line of robotic mowers with the new EVO line – the iMow 5, iMow 6, and iMow 7. The three mowers are capable of tending to different lawn sizes, from 1/3 acre up to 1.0 acres. The mowers are managed by a new app with Bluetooth, Wifi, and LTE connectivity. These mowers all operate within wired boundaries. Stihl has not announced availability dates or suggested retail pricing.

Stihl robotic mower
Stihl’s Louis Danet shows the app and digital interface for the new iMow series.

Battery Management

The Stihl CM 12 is a battery management device for pros who need to charge multiple battery packs. The device plugs into a 110V outlet can help charge multiple AP batteries – up to 30 overnight. It retails for $1200.

Leaf Blowers

Stihl BGA 250

This new blower is Stihl’s most powerful handheld battery-powered leaf blower. It runs on the AP and AR battery systems and delivers a blowing force of 26 N. It weighs about 10 lbs. and will retail for $300.

Stihl BGA 300.1

Stihl’s most powerful backpack blower is now compatible with the ADA 1000 battery pack, as well as the AP platform batteries. It uses a brushless motor and has three power levels to manage energy and performance. It retails for $700.

Trimmers and Edgers

HAS 40

This lightweight battery-powered hedge trimmer runs on two AS 2 batteries. It weighs about 5 pounds with batteries and has a 20-in. cutting blade. Stihl says it will operate for about 80 minutes on a full charge. The retail price is $190.

Stihl FSA 30

This new product is both a trimmer and an edger; it runs on the AS battery platform. It has a telescoping shaft, and users can vary the angle of the cutting head. The loop handle rotates to six positions, and the tool has on-board blade storage. Retail price, with battery, is $150.

FSA 80 and FSA 80 R

These two string trimmers run on the AK battery system and feature brushless motors with gearboxes, which are made of the same components as the gas-powered trimmers. The 80 model ($450 retail) uses a bike-style handle, and the 80 R ($400 retail) uses an adjustable loop-type handle. Both models feature variable speed control and two-step speed adjustment control.

Stihl battery trimmer
New Stihl FSA 80 R battery-powered trimmer.

FSA 200 and 200 R

Similar to the FSA 80 and 80 R trimmers, the 200 and 200 R feature two different handle styles, bicycle bar or loop style. These trimmers run on the AP battery platform and retail for $650 and $600, respectively. These tools can also connect to Stihl’s Smart Connector 2A system for pros needing tool management help.

Pressure Washers

Stihl REA 100 Plus

This compact pressure washer weighs less than 16 pounds with the battery and carries like a small duffel bag. It runs on the AP battery platform, has a semi-rigid hose with a built-in hose reel, and features 3-position nozzle. Power is adjustable by a rotary switch. The unit retails for $650. We tried this washer and the first thing we notice is it’s pleasingly quiet. More importantly, with a working pressure of 1,800 psi, it’s more powerful than it appears. With its totable size and adjustable power, this would be a good washer for mowers, trucks and trailers, and your dirtbike – you should have some fun too.

Stihl pressure washer

Stihl REA 60 Plus

Similar in look, shape and style to the REA 100 Plus, the 60 Plus runs on the AK battery platform, and delivers 1,500 psi of working pressure. It retails for $420.

Stihl RCA 20

Stihl is adding a battery-powered pressure washer to it system. The RCA 20 is a handheld model rated at 350 psi, and it runs on AS 2 batteries. A kit, retailing for $160, includes two batteries, a 16-ft. suction hose, detergent spray bottle and an extension lance. The pressure washer can pull water from an external source using the suction hose or can be connected to a garden hose. 


Stihl KMA 80 R

Stihl is adding this KMA 80 R powerhead to its AK-battery homeowner line of tools. It uses a toolless quick-release loop handle, plus a variable speed controller and two-step speed adjuster. This powerhead can connect to 14 attachment tools including KMA (battery) and KM (gas) tools. That includes items such as the mini cultivator, blower, lawn edgers, pole pruner, and others. The KMA 80 R powerhead retails for $450.

Stihl KMA 200 R

This is the most powerful of Stihl’s KombiMotor tools; it runs on the AP battery system. The tool is compatible with 14 attachments. Retail price is $490.

Saws and Pruners

Stihl GTA 26 and Extension

With a 4-in. guide bar and a weight of 3.1 pounds (with battery), this pruning saw is compact for small jobs around the home. It runs on the AS 2 battery and has an available 59-in. extension arm. The saw retails for $180, and the extension for $90. We tried it, both as a handheld tool, and on the extension arm. For the price, it would be a handy tool to keep in the kit, even for a pro user with some quick trimming to do.

Stihl HTA 150 and 160

Stihl’s new battery-powered pole pruners run on the AP battery platform. The HT 150 uses a fixed shaft that is 6.5-feet long, and the HT 160 has a telescoping shaft that reaches up to 13 feet. Both use a variable-speed trigger throttle, 10-in. guide bars and 3/8-in. Picco chains. They retail for $670 and $700, respectively.

Vacuum Shredder

Stihl’s new SHA 140 is its most powerful vac shredder. It runs AP batteries and can connect to the Smart Connector 2A system. The bag and the suction pipe can be removed without tools. It retails for $350.

Stihl vacuum shredder

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