Until now, Craftsman has kept its unveiling of new tractors to the standard industry events.
We have been at other lawn and garden industry events where they're not open to the public, Sears spokeswoman Megan Tarsha said. Craftsman is part of Sears.
Among those events, Tarsha said, were the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute Expo and the International Builders Show -- where the company caters to current or prospective homeowners.
But next week, Craftsman will expand its scope, planning a first by introducing what the company bills as an automotive-inspired CTX tractor at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. It's the first tractor ever to be introduced at the Detroit Auto Show, an expo that will host more than 40 vehicle introductions. The company will also take its show to Las Vegas, where it will have a display at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show next week.
NAIAS spokesman Marc Harlow said Craftsman is a sponsor of the event and will not display the tractor alongside more traditional offerings from various automakers. He also stressed that because of this, the Detroit show was having no trouble bringing in exhibitors, despite the high-profile absences of Jaguar and Land Rover this year.
It remains strictly an automobile show, Harlow said in a phone interview with the International Business Times on Thursday. What is going on in this case is that Craftsman has chosen to be a participant in the show from a sponsorship perspective. Part of their benefit is they get exhibit in the concourse area. They're not on the show floor alongside the vehicles.
But much of the reason Craftsman chose this venue instead of more traditional unveilings of tractors -- such as individual showings to media in New York or at home improvement trade shows -- stems from the CTX's automotive features.
Sears spokesman Larry Costello said the company designed the tractor completely off customer feedback about making it easier to achieve the best-looking lawn possible.
It is unexpected, and this goes beyond showing tractor to individual media in New York and beyond a traditional home improvement trade show, Costello told the IB Times in a phone interview. We certainly have gotten the attention of customers and the media.
Onney Crawley, Craftsman's director of brand management, said some of the automotive-like features customers requested include automatic traction control, full digital instrumentation with color-coded controls, an electronic fuel management system to ensure a reliable start, power steering, cup holders, and even cruise control. It also contains an electronic cutting height adjustment and a quick deck removal for easier maintenance.
All characteristics that Crawley said will help customers conquer mowing their lawns. For example, she touted the 54-inch deck for easier mowing of large areas of grass, along with an 18-inch turning radius that helps in tight spots. And the CTX's EFM system allows for automotive-style starting without a carburetor. New cars don't have carburetors, and neither does the CTX, Sears said.
And with the auto-like elements, Detroit was the right fit, Crawley said.
It's a new line that has been packed with automotive-inspired features, Crawley told the IB Times in a phone interview. It makes perfect sense to bring the tractor there for its launch.
Craftsman's exhibit will be in the Cobo Center's lobby, along with other sponsors, vendors and the food court.
Sears will price the tractor from about $3,000 to $6,500, selling to yard tractor and two garden tractor models. The tractor will be available starting in February.