Products and innovation

German engineering as a driver of innovation

Our aim as a technology leader has always been to make it easier for people to work in and with nature – something STIHL has stood for as an organization and as a brand for almost 100 years. Thanks to proven STIHL quality, we are able to offer our customers a wide range of gasoline-powered, electric, and battery-operated power tools that embody sustainability from the drawing board on out.

SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

Andreas Stihl attached great importance to both the constant advancement of the products made by STIHL and the expansion of the portfolio. In 1959, he revolutionized forestry work by launching the STIHL Contra, the first gearless gasoline-powered chainsaw. Based on the technical foundation laid by the Contra, STIHL worked tirelessly to further enhance its chainsaws. From the antivibration system (first installed in the Contra in 1965) and the quick-stop chain brake to catalytic converters and technologies engineered to reduce emissions, STIHL’s focus has always been on environmental protection, performance, repairability, comfort, and safety. Our most recent innovations include the STIHL MS 881, the world’s most powerful production chainsaw and the only one in its class to meet the current EU emission standards, and the STIHL MSA 300, capable of reduced-noise, emission-free performance that also happens to be the most powerful battery-operated chainsaw on the market today. In addition, we are committed to promoting the development of digitally connected products and digital services for consumers and professional users alike.

STIHL products have always been known for their particularly long service life, repairability, and high quality, which allows them to make a contribution to conserving resources. Our outdoor power tools are engineered to keep running, which is why it is not uncommon for them to be handed down from generation to generation. Our trained authorized dealers ensure proper maintenance and provide repairs – should they become necessary. Tools such as saw chains can be sharpened, helping them achieve excellent cutting performance over a long service life. With the patented Hexa cutting system, we recently started making it possible even for less experienced users to sharpen saw chains the easy way. Spare parts are available for at least ten years or longer after we stop making a particular series. Innovation keeps us a market leader. We have an impressive depth of development expertise in-house, which we aim to leverage fully in our technologies and products. To ensure the desired premium STIHL quality, we expect the same of our suppliers as well. Our international and interdisciplinary development team makes sure that our products offer the best possible combination of lightweight engineering and durability, providing our customers with durable products that not only fulfill legal regulations and technical standards regarding fuel consumption, emissions, and noise, for example, but also incorporate best-in-class technology.

Outstanding quality

Quality lies at the core of the STIHL brand. All STIHL products stand for durability, repairability, reliability, and safety. To help us live up to our premium standards, we employ a wide range of use-oriented testing techniques, many of which were developed in-house. These techniques allow us to examine the steel composition of various alloys while also performing vibration, noise, and other durability and quality tests, to name just a few examples. We also test our saw chains, simulate adverse events, and examine the contents and chemical composition of the fuels and lubricants we develop.

Research and development (R&D)

At our central development center – located at the founding company’s headquarters in Waiblingen, Germany – over 700 engineers and technicians from a variety of fields work to improve existing STIHL technologies and develop new ones. While the STIHL companies worldwide help keep us close to local markets and our production sites, the overall responsibility for R&D activities lies with the Executive Board member for Research and Development at the German founding company. Outside the main project development site in Germany, development engineers at the production centers around the world are connected to each other through shared systems and projects in order to promote industrialization and local development. What all of them have in common is that they must meet the strict guidelines of our STIHL product development process, which are defined in our internal directives.

In recent times, ever-stricter exhaust and emissions standards for internal combustion engines have been fueling a surge in innovation in the battery segment. Our products’ use phase offers tremendous potential for achieving the goal of making our entire value chain climate-neutral in the long term (see “Environment”). As a result, our R&D activities focus both on the further optimization of our tools powered by internal combustion engines and on the expansion of our expertise in battery development. Our goal is to maintain our leading market position in the gasoline-powered segment, to leverage further potential through technologies such as low-CO2 fuels, and to continuously enhance our position in the field of battery-operated tools.

Our R&D activities allow us to enhance scientific research and upgrade technological capabilities – a contribution to achieving one of the targets of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal SDG 9, which aims to promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.

Digitalizing products and processes

For many years now, STIHL has been dedicating its efforts to exploring the opportunities associated with increased digitalization. The use and analysis of data (“big data”), for example, has the potential to enhance the efficiency of how we manage production or further optimize the sale and use of STIHL equipment when it comes to factors such as fuel or electricity consumption. Operating data can also help improve the way products are engineered, thereby further increasing their quality and reliability. As a result, big data is capable of indirectly contributing to the durability of products and to the use of materials in a way that conserves resources.

Electronics expertise

Alongside digitalization, we are focusing our efforts on the fields of robotics, sensors, and artificial intelligence. In 2016, we opened a state-of-the-art center of excellence for battery and electrical technology in Waiblingen, Germany. In 2021, we teamed up with the Elrad International Group to found ZE Electronic Manufacturing Services Ltd., a joint venture dedicated to the production of electronic assemblies that plays a key role in our battery strategy and enhances our electronics expertise. Our innovative power is also reflected in roughly 2,500 patents. To strengthen and expand our innovative power, we lead alliances with scientific institutions and development partners and carry out research in cooperation with colleges and universities.

Circular economy

Circularity plays a pivotal role in the STIHL sustainability strategy. The goal of a sustainable circular economy is to minimize the use of resources and the production of waste through a variety of approaches. Durability and repairability, for example, help conserve resources. In general, the reuse and refurbishing of products also have the potential to make an important contribution to a functioning circular economy through new business models and innovations built around product-as-a-service solutions and other concepts (see “Business model”). Devices or tools no longer fit for use can be recycled as a final step – an aspect that is at the center of our battery-powered products. Authorized STIHL dealers may take back portable batteries depending on their obligation to do so.

100% recyclable

When it comes to conserving resources when using raw materials, the STIHL magnesium diecasting plant in Germany’s Eifel region is blazing new trails for our production network. The diecasting plant manufactures more than 600 different products made from magnesium. Every day, it processes several metric tons of magnesium, which is roughly one-third lighter than aluminum and is fully recyclable. The on-site resmelting unit is capable of melting down and preparing some 4,000 metric tons a year without any loss of quality compared to primary materials.

In line with the goal of a circular economy, we aim to enhance our processes and products in order to conserve resources. When developing new products, we pay particular attention to using components that can be recycled. We aim to make our products reusable to the greatest extent possible, with a material recycling rate of over 85 percent in accordance with ISO 17341. In 2022, we plan to perform a potential analysis and derive concrete goals for increasing the percentage of secondary raw materials. We also intend to conduct a feasibility study on completely circular products (manufacture and use) by 2023.

Product safety

The safety of our customers while they work with our outdoor power equipment is essential. Compliance with technical standards, the latest technological developments, and legal requirements is the foundation on which our products are built. STIHL plays a leading role in defining global ISO and IEC safety standards, allowing it to systematically promote the advancement of safety requirements. STIHL’s internal findings on the strength of guards and handles, and on electronic circuits and sensors, for example, have been incorporated into international standards and shared beyond the company. As a technology leader, we look back with pride on the many innovations STIHL has pioneered that have made an important contribution to increasing the safety of customers. Back in 1964, for example, we became the first manufacturer to offer chainsaws with an antivibration handle. When it comes to keeping an eye on the safety of our products throughout the marketing and sales process, authorized dealers offer the opportunity for appropriate product instruction and safety training for users. The same applies when buyers purchase products in STIHL online shops.

Welcome to the world of sustainable product development

Green fuels and lubricants

STIHL is conducting research on innovative new fuels to improve the environmental footprint of its products during use. The goal is to reduce climate-damaging emissions during combustion by a significant margin (Scope 3 emissions, see “Environment”). Our developers are working on synthetic fuels, or synfuels, where the original mineral oil-based fuel has been supplemented through synthetically produced or bio-based materials. STIHL MotoMix is a fuel developed in-house that we already offer today. Scheduled to hit the market in 2022, STIHL MotoMix ECO is a new generation of fuel that will make it possible to reduce CO2 emissions by an additional 8 percent compared to the MotoMix blend available today. We are also developing fuels and lubricants in-house that are engineered specifically for our outdoor power equipment. STIHL Multioil Bioplus, a versatile lubricant with a variety of uses, is made of 90 percent renewable raw materials and is 90 percent biodegradable.

Low-spin cutting tools

To reduce flying debris during garden and landscape maintenance, STIHL has developed an innovative cutting system it calls the reciprocator. The low-spin cutting tool features two reciprocating blades. As a result, the system is ideally suited for trimming weeds and grass in urban settings and can help minimize the use of weed killers.

Time matters

Tools are important everyday helpers in horticulture and landscaping. Felix Blies, managing partner of GARTENconcept. GmbH in Stuttgart, Germany, talks about what he looks for in a tool and the aspects of sustainability that are important to him.

Felix, there are a lot of different sides to your day-to-day work as a horticulture and landscaping specialist, and you need a variety of tools. What do you always have with you?

It’s not like there’s one single tool that you always need. There are too many facets to my work for that. It’s more likely that you’re constantly going to need certain combinations of tools. If I’m going to trim a hedge, for example, I need a hedge trimmer and a leaf blower. For tree maintenance, on the other hand, pruning shears and a chainsaw are a good pairing.

What do you expect in general from the tools you work with, and what role does sustainability play for you?

I expect strong and consistent cutting performance from my tools, even after working with them for extended periods of time in day-to-day use. My goal is to use tools that don’t have to be replaced after a short time, which I don’t think is particularly sustainable, by the way. That’s why it’s important for manufacturers to have a strong network of authorized dealers where you can get the equipment regularly serviced and repaired. I have to be able to rely on my tools – that’s what it all comes down to. We’ve been using tools from STIHL for a long time now, and our experience with them has always been good.

Let’s take a look into the future: How do you think outdoor power equipment needs to evolve going forward?

Since I have a clear preference for battery-operated tools because I find them easier to work with, I would like to see them get even lighter. A plug-in attachment system for hedge trimmers that would make it easy to flexibly change out guide bars would also be very useful. You need a different guide bar for basic pruning than for precise trimming and contouring. Being able to do both with just one tool would help conserve resources as well.

Promoting biodiversity

As a family-owned business with roots in forestry, STIHL is indelibly linked with nature. Our products are made for working with and in nature. Protecting sensitive ecosystems is a matter of the utmost importance to us. That is why it plays a pivotal role in our sustainability strategy.

SDG 15 - Life on land

Biodiversity is the basis for life on our planet. It extends beyond the diversity of species to include genetic and ecosystem diversity. All elements must be in balance for an ecosystem to be healthy. Otherwise, this sensitive cyclical system may fall apart. To help the users of our products also keep an eye on biodiversity, we provide appropriate guidance on their use in our user manuals and in tips and recommendations available on our website and through authorized dealers. We plan to step up our efforts going forward and develop additional communication measures in 2022.

More focus on biodiversity-friendly products

We want to do an even better job of understanding how ecosystems are connected. To this end, we are working with universities and institutions, establishing partnerships, and seeking exchange with experts in this field. We are continuously incorporating insights from our efforts into product development and minor model updates, as well as into product and customer communication materials. In 2020, for example, we partnered with the University of Hohenheim to conduct a scientific study of how robotic lawn mowers influence the development of grass as a natural habitat. The findings of the study offer specific recommendations for garden owners that we have made available to the general public through active media relations work. We are also supporting research at the University of Oxford that explores technical solutions that may reduce the risk of injury to animals such as hedgehogs.

As part of our sustainability strategy, we are developing a biodiversity concept for specific customer groups. To this end, we initiated a project in 2021 that aims to investigate the challenges associated with biodiverse farming. One of the topics is the impact that the implementation of new legal regulations and the rollout of the European Union’s biodiversity strategy will have on local governments and the forestry community. The project is a cooperative effort involving STIHL, the Institute for Applied Material Flow Management (IfaS), and the German cities of Losheim am See (Saarland), Pirmasens (Rhineland-Palatinate), and Waiblingen (Baden-Württemberg).

Together, our aim is to analyze the potential offered by biodiversity-optimized agriculture and the ways in which a business like STIHL can provide support through products and services. When selecting project partners, STIHL made a conscious decision to work with three cities that share the same requirements despite the differences in their economic and ecological circumstances. The cities play an important role in the project by delivering practical, real-life findings for the analysis and development of measures – along with valuable insights for the future biodiversity-focused development of the product range at STIHL. The first step in the project involves an analysis of our products and the creation of profiles for the most important product groups to provide information concerning their positive or negative effects on biodiversity in consultation with independent experts. Specialists and associations will contribute additional material aspects to this analysis. The project is set to last two years.

More biodiversity at STIHL facilities

Alongside our product range, we intend to set a good example and encourage biodiversity at STIHL Group facilities across the globe. To this end, we plan to launch a Group-wide biodiversity check in 2022 that can also be extended to our supply chain.

Our measures contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to safeguard biodiversity in order to protect terrestrial ecosystems (SDG 15).

Biodiversity as a driver of innovation

The many sides of bio­diversity

Biodiversity starts at home. Awareness of the issue is on the rise among cities and local governments, which face the challenge of managing a wide range of different habitats. They also have a tremendous opportunity to make such spaces more attractive for bees and other organisms. A look at three German cities and what they are doing.

Losheim am See is famed for its idyllic reservoir.

Losheim am See

Measuring approximately 97 square kilometers, the municipality of Losheim am See lies nestled in the Saar-Hunsrück Nature Park. Its lake, various excellent hiking trails, and picturesque setting in the Schwarzwälder Hochwald natural area – with vast mixed beech forests, idyllic valleys, and streams – make Losheim am See a popular tourist destination. The parks and green spaces team from the municipal facilities management office works hand in hand with the city’s department of environmental and municipal development to take care of the recreational areas, parks, and other green spaces along the lake, as well as curb strips, street trees, and cemeteries. The team also keeps Losheim am See’s network of hiking trails and bike paths in shape. Two forest rangers and a team of foresters are responsible for the city’s forests and wooded areas. Werner Ludwig, the head of the municipal department of environmental and municipal development, has a clear picture of his priorities regarding the maintenance and management of the wide range of natural habitats in the city: “As a city, we have to lead by example when it comes to preserving and fostering biodiversity in our municipal habitats. That is why the environmental management, forestry, and facilities management teams always work hand in hand to find practical, feasible solutions.”

»Our goal is to combine efficient management and care with protecting natural habitats.«

Werner Ludwig
Head of the municipal department of environmental and municipal development in Losheim am See


Sustainable park and open-space management has long been a passion for the people of Pirmasens, the southwestern German city on seven hills. This commitment has already earned it the Spar-Euro prize for money-saving solutions and the StadtGrün naturnah seal for eco-friendly open-space management. The city oversees more than 100 hectares of parks, playgrounds, and sports fields – and caring for those spaces costs money. To keep these costs to a minimum while ensuring an appealing natural environment, the city has taken a host of measures that have allowed it to save some 100,000 euros a year in staffing and energy expenses. As part of its own biodiversity strategy, Pirmasens is constantly breathing new life into its open-space and park management concept. Representatives from conservation and environmental organizations, schools and kindergartens, employees of the city’s parks and cemeteries department, local politicians, and active citizens have all come together to take part in a dedicated working group. Thomas Iraschko, head of the city’s business and services division, explains: “Transforming public spaces in line with nature-focused concepts is always associated with a new way of thinking in government, policy, and the general public. In Pirmasens, we have succeeded in putting together a ‘green package’ that allows us to encourage steps toward sustainability, thanks in no small part to the close cooperation between municipal institutions and citizens.”

Civic engagement is a priority in Pirmasens.


Located deep in the south of Germany, Waiblingen is part of a vibrant metropolitan area and is an important hub of industry. Major traffic arteries such as the B 14 and B 29 national highways, along with public transit links, help keep the county seat of the Rems-Murr administrative district connected within the greater Stuttgart region. Surrounded by hillside vineyards, the city stretches along the Rems river. With once-pervasive native species such as partridges and lapwings now all but gone, the city of Waiblingen has developed its own biodiversity strategy to preserve the habitats of local animal and plant species in the interest of enhancing quality of life in the area. For years now, the municipal government has been working with local nature conservation organizations to foster biodiversity. Their campaigns range from setting aside open spaces for wildflowers and creating biotopes to handing out free seeds, restoring dry stone walls in hillside vineyards, and organizing the Naturnaher Garten competition to promote a more natural approach to gardening. In 2019, the Remstal-Gartenschau became Germany’s first multicity gardening exhibition to connect 16 towns and cities along the Rems river and raised public awareness of biodiversity in the process. Jörg Kist from Waiblingen’s department of parks and open spaces says: “Protecting habitats is a never-ending task. As a result, we continue to systematically pursue our biodiversity strategy through projects at schools and kindergartens, such as our week-long campaigns to let children experience nature hands-on and our efforts to set up school gardens. That way, we can raise awareness of nature among kids and encourage their interest.”

The bee information center in Waiblingen is a place of learning.

Fostering biodiversity

Forestry expert Professor Jörg Müller examines biodiversity, forest ecology, and natural conservation as part of his research work. Müller is the deputy director of the Bavarian Forest National Park, where he is in charge of the conservation and research department. He also heads the Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology at the University of Würzburg.

Professor Müller, your research examines topics such as protecting biodiversity in our forests. Why is biodiversity so important?

MÜLLER The diversity of ecosystems, species, and genes has been important to our existence since the dawn of humanity. Even the earliest human settlements were in regions with a wide variety of habitats such as pastures and rivers, which provided food and drinking water. To this day, at least half of the products in a grocery store, for example, are based on various mycological enzymes that account for the wide range of foods available to us. Or think of medicines – a particularly pertinent topic during our current pandemic. We deprive ourselves of the foundations of life when we lose certain things. You can quantify that too and calculate the pollination output of wild bees in euros, for example. But I’m not a fan of breaking everything down into monetary costs.

Where are we seeing a loss of biodiversity, and how is it manifesting itself?

MÜLLER There’s no simple answer to that question. It also depends on which indicators you look at. Apex predators have never had it as good as they do right now. There are more wolves and lynxes in Germany today than ever before in the past 100 years, for example. If you look at forests, however, a wave of extinction already set in 100 to 150 years ago with the advent of commercial forestry. That may have made sense at the time, seeing as how wood was scarce and there was a need to raise productivity in the space of just a few decades. But certain woodboring beetles have become rarer as a result. Luckily, a lot has changed for the better in the past 30 years thanks to a shift in attitudes. On the other hand, the situation in agriculture and construction has grown more serious in many respects. We’re sealing too much soil, plain and simple. Legal regulation aimed at compensating for soil sealing is an opportunity to do something about that. The use of pesticides has also increased significantly in the past 30 years, which robs many species of their habitats and hurts their chances of survival.

Is targeted intervention in nature always detrimental, and is it better to just let things take their course?

MÜLLER There isn’t a right or wrong answer here either. What matters is allowing nature to take its course in certain situations and continuously asking ourselves where we need to take a hands-off approach. Restraint is always the answer when nature is highly active on its own in current ecosystems. The best example of that is the Bavarian Forest National Park. Our decision ten years ago to “sacrifice” the forest to the bark beetle, as some put it, and simply let things take their course was an unpopular one. Today we know that it was an absolute win in terms of biodiversity. But there are times when the opposite happens. A deciduous forest that has been homogenized by humans, for instance, exhibits practically no natural activity anymore. There isn’t much going on there in terms of structural diversity. That’s when active intervention is definitely beneficial for biodiversity.

In a brochure on using chainsaws in conservation that you and seven other co-authors wrote, you offer practical tips for creating and fostering the growth of such structure and habitats in managed forests. What do people need to keep in mind here?

MÜLLER Using chainsaws in conservation may seem like a contradiction at first. But, in fact, nature is behind many events in forests that damage trees. Branches break off, lightning strikes, storms knock down trees — all of these adverse events foster diversity. For example, a tree might suffer a gash that attracts fungus that in turn attracts rare beetles. You can use tools to recreate many of these adverse events. It doesn’t matter to the species whether it was due to human intervention or lightning. We can use that to our advantage and enrich middle-aged forests that are structurally poor by creating deadwood, thinning out tree crowns, and much more.

Is it possible to transfer your findings from forestry to other areas? What is the situation when it comes to biodiversity in cities?

MÜLLER What makes urban parks and green spaces so appealing is that they aren’t used commercially. They don’t have to produce corn or wood. That is indeed something special, since it means that the trees and bushes aren’t subject to the pressure of timber production. It’s one of the reasons why a park in the center of Regensburg, Germany, has more ancient species of beetles than any of the area’s managed forests — simply because the trees there are allowed to grow old and receive regular care so that they remain safe for people to walk past. As I said, care-oriented intervention like this has the potential to create diverse structures and make such spaces an attractive second habitat. Cities are often very interested in supporting this kind of approach.

Can an urban environment replace a natural habitat?

MÜLLER What’s interesting is that species aren’t terribly particular. They aren’t tied down to a specific structure. Ultimately, they don’t care where the structure is and how they get there. Take the peregrine falcon, for example, which perches in church towers in urban environments, despite it being fully unnatural for them. In the end, we should be happy that many species learn to use our man-made objects and live with us, seeing as how we modern humans have destroyed so many natural habitats.

These topics might also be of interest to you …

STIHL Group and Strategy

Everything we do has always been focused on people, nature, and their power to grow. That is what drives us – and what we want to keep driving forward.

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Our aim is to keep the environmental impact of our activities and products to a minimum while conserving resources.

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