Recently we attended the Milwaukee Tool media event and we very surprised to see just how many cordless tools the red team was coming to market with by the end of 2013. As things stand today, if cordless tools were a horse race, it would be hard to argue that Milwaukee isn’t the horse to bet on against Pro brands such as Dewalt, Makita, Bosch, Hitachi, Metabo and others. Taking into consideration not only sheer volume of new products but also price, quality, promotions, technology and plans for the future Milwaukee is the clear frontrunner. Of course we only know what the brands have already launched and what they tell us, perhaps Milwaukee is just the first to show their full hand. We are of course confident they are all working on new cordless projects.
FUEL Brushless Technology
While Panasonic was the first to use brushless technology in a drill and many brands have come to market with brushless drills and impact drivers since, the M18 Milwaukee FUEL brushless drills are the only 18V tools that offer true high torque models. We’ve seen several other brands launch brushless drills in a mid-range product partly because they can use very similar motors to the impact drivers and therefore are easier to manufacture. Not to say everyone needs or wants a high torque version, for smaller jobs runtime is much better with mid-range tool. Of course Milwaukee has an option for economically priced shoppers looking for brushless tools that don’t need high torque with their M12 tools. As the only manufacturer utilizing brushless in their 12V tools we think this really gives users the widest range of options when selecting the best tool for their needs.
In the very near future we will see some pretty amazing advances that could change the way we think of some cordless tools. Milwaukee is launching the M18 FUEL brushless versions of their circular saw, sawzall, grinder and impact wrenches. Currently, cordless saws and grinders just are not able to keep up with their corded counterparts and for that reason have never been considered real replacements. With the brushless FUEL tools, however, the performance is now equal to (or better than) many corded products and with 4.0Ah batteries the runtime is more than double what we’ve seen from cordless tools in the past. Certainly not going to replace corded tools in every situation but for many people this might be enough to make these true replacement tools.
For the high torque impact wrenches they were not able to give us the final torque ratings however they did say it will be higher than any competition, including the Ingersoll Rand 20v IQv tools which put out as much torque as their top of the line pneumatic impact. This would mean in the future if you wanted the highest torque possible even in a shop with an air system you would have to leave the pneumatic tool on the bench and pick up a cordless. That’s a huge change from just a couple years ago.
One of the things most surprising to us was that Milwaukee isn’t going to phase out their current brushed tools in favor of the new brushless, in fact they’ve actually redesigned and launch all new M12 & M18 brushed tools. These kits will come with lower cost 1.5 & 3.0Ah batteries and will be designed to hit certain price points you’re used to seeing in the big box stores. The newly redesigned tools have more power, smaller size, better electronics and some additional features like 2 speeds on the new impact driver.
We were very impressed with all the innovation coming from Milwaukee this year and the drive of their leadership team. They seem to be very focused on creating end user specific tools and for general use tools like cordless drills which everyone can use they really seem passionate to outdo themselves year-after-year more than anything.
Personally it is our hope this is just the beginning and we will soon see all of other brands launching their versions of brushless saws and other critical tools. Competition among brands just brings on more innovation and better tools! The landscape could be very different before the end of the year but in the meantime I would like to congratulate Milwaukee on a job well done.