Makita has really jumped into the Outdoor Power Equipment (OPE) arena with both feet and currently uniquely positioned to be one of the strongest players moving forward. There has been a big push away from 2 Stroke small engines for several reasons including hassle of mixing & storing gas, emissions standards and noise just to name a few. Makita (with Dolmar) is the only manufacturer out there that is really strong in both 4 stroke gas technology and battery technology which gives them a huge advantage as the consumer demand changes.
Makita is leading the way in 4-Stroke gas technology (MM4) which if you are going to stay with gas is where things are going. Offering the only MM4 Cut-Off Saw and MM4 blowers but they are also leading the charge with OPE that works with the 18V batteries everyone already owns. The XCU03 cordless chainsaws are a prime example of that next step forward although still not surpassing gas in power but we are getting pretty darn close.
KISS – KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID
The success of any cordless tool system is greatly increased if 1 batteries can work across more and more tools. Makita 18V platform is doing a very nice job of expanding in both directions attacking 12V market with Sub-Compact tools like CX200RB, while at the same time 18Vx2 (36V) targeting larger saws and equipment that require more power. We would anticipate Makita will soon jump to newer battery technology as others have using the 20700 battery cells which will only mean more power and runtime for all your existing Makita tools including the XCU03 chainsaws.
BATTERY vs GAS
While the new XCU03Z ($279, bare) and XCU03PT ($389, Kit) have made big jumps forward in power and runtime thanks to the brushless motor it is not going to be more powerful than professional gas counterparts. We do think performance is very close with many advantages in zero emissions, lower noise and considerably less maintenance making it a good choice for many individuals and companies moving forward. Chainsaws also have a lot of applications for indoor use that open up with battery option.
100 Decibels vs 110 Decibels
The Makita cordless chainsaw is rated at “under 100 decibels” while a typical gas chainsaw is rated at “110 decibels” at arm’s length. Decibel ratings are a little misleading because this just looks like a 10% difference when in fact 10 decibels more than doubles the loudness and 110 decibels puts you into the category of definitely causing hear damage almost immediately. We still recommend hearing protection with the cordless chainsaw (OSHA requirements start at 85 decibels depending on hours of exposure) but it’s much closer other sorts of loud cordless tools than gas chainsaws.
We 100% believe is a few short years 2 stroke small gas engines will be all but gone for a couple reasons. Emissions standards in many countries are scheduled to continue to tighten making it harder for manufactures to build them. Maybe the EPA emission standards in the US won’t tighten as previously planned (but Stihl is German not US) but it is a moot point as battery improvements, newer technology and economy of scales already coming will have battery output far surpass gas engines within the next 2-4 years anyway. 2 stroke gas tools will need to have big price increases due to smaller ans smaller production runs and well writing is on the wall. The future of all tools are cordless.