What’s in a name? Well, for power tool users who rely on those products to make a living, or who are invested deeply in both the tools and their consumable accessories–like batteries and chargers–a brand name means quite a lot. It represents reliability, performance and value over time. It also equates to a significant financial commitment.
That’s why, for all that goes into branding power tools, its rare that a tool company changes its name. This past spring, however, Hitachi announced that it would be doing that very thing, leaving “Hitachi” behind and becoming Metabo HPT. On October 17, the company’s name change became official for the North American market.
But, if you’re a loyal and invested Hitachi user, have no fear, reassures Joe Leffler, senior vice president of sales, marketing and general management of the new Metabo HPT. “Our name, whether Hitachi or Metabo HPT, still represents the same people, the look, the performance, the feel and the experience provided to the end user. All these will go unchanged, and all you will see is simply our name change.”
Here’s the short explanation for why a name change was necessary: Leffler explains that when Hitachi Koki Co. Ltd. partnered with KKR, a leading global investment firm, in April 2017, it was determined that the power tool division would no longer be part of Hitachi Ltd.
“Transitioning to Metabo HPT, we now have complete control to determine our direction in the market and the freedom to move faster,” Leffler says. “Within North America, we did extensive research and testing. We determined that building off an established brand like our sister company, Metabo, by renaming to Metabo HPT, would allow us to equally drive value to the different customer segments we both resonate in.”
Metabo HPT tools will be available in North America, wherever Hitachi power tools are sold. The transition has already begun, and it will continue to roll out in 2019. Current Hitachi-branded tools will be sold alongside Metabo HPT tools for the same model until supplies are gone, and some products may even be labeled with both names. Then, at some point next year, those tools will continue forward only as Metabo HPT.
“The tools will carry the same model numbers, same design, same warranties and same battery compatibility,” Leffler says. “The only thing changing as we transition will be our name to Metabo HPT.”
Outside of North America, other power tool markets have known the brand as Hitachi Koki Power Tools. So, instead of Metabo HPT, the tools will be called HiKoki elsewhere, where the “Koki” reference has an established familiarity and understanding, Leffler explains.
While Hitachi’s current product line continues under the new moniker, Metabo HPT is also launching a brand-new 36-volt platform of products called MultiVolt to celebrate the transition. The heart of MultiVolt is a 4.0 Ah lithium-ion battery that powers its new 36-volt offerings, which so far include a brushless 10-in. miter saw, 7-1/4-in. circular saw, a reciprocating saw, 1/2-in. hammer drill, triple impact driver, SDS rotary hammer, two 4-1/2-in. angle grinders and 1/2- and 3/4-in. high-torque impact wrenches. More MultiVolt tool options are forthcoming.
As the name suggests, one thing that makes MultiVolt unique is that the battery not only powers 36-volt tools but also is backwards-compatible to Hitachi/Metabo HPT 18-volt cordless tools. In these applications, it generates 8.0 Ah instead of 4.0 Ah, giving 18-volt tools extended runtime.
Another standout development of MultiVolt is an AC Adapter (model ET36A), which retails for $149. It looks like a slide-style tool battery with a 20-ft. power cord attached to it. Clip the AC adapter onto any MultiVolt 36-volt tool, and it can be plugged into 120-volt outlets for “corded” use, when that’s most convenient. Then, when situations take you away from outlet power, switch to a MultVolt battery instead, to use the tool “cordless.”
But, while MultiVolt batteries are backwards-compatible to 18-volt tools, the new AC Adapter isn’t: it works only on 36-volt MultiVolt tools.
The company considers MultiVolt to be game-changing in the industry, because it gives you the ability to choose either cordless or corded operation without sacrificing portability or performance. Metabo HPT also points out that the ultra-efficient brushless motors in MultiVolt tools enable the adapter to be used with long extension cords or from a generator with no power loss to the tool.
Currently, only the new 10-in. miter saw has a packaging option that includes the AC adapter. Most of the other tool offerings are sold bare or with two batteries and a charger. But, there’s an incentive to get onboard with MultiVolt: if you buy a bare tool, Metabo HPT gives you the option to pick either the AC Adapter or a MultiVolt battery and charger kit for free with your tool purchase. And, through the end of December, if you buy a MultiVolt tool and register it online, you can get an additional battery for free (a $99 value) by filling out and submitting a rebate form.
Leffler says, so far customers are responding positively to the new name as well as the MultiVolt battery, adapter and tool family.
“As we change our name to Metabo HPT we are launching technology that changes how power tools will be used on the jobsite,” Leffler says. “This new platform of MultiVolt tools resonates across every trade professional in the industry. We’re changing what’s expected of power tools. It’s an exciting time … Expect nothing but incredible innovation with durability at its core as we emerge as Metabo HPT.”
Learn more about Metabo HPT and MultiVolt by clicking here.