Earlier this summer, Festool enhanced its cordless tool program in three ways that should be of interest to both current owners of Festool battery-powered tools and those planning to invest in the system soon. If you haven’t heard the news yet, here’s a quick overview to help bring you up to speed on a trifecta of developments.
First, Festool has a number of brand-new model options in the 15- and 18-volt platforms. Of particular interest to serious DIYers and contractors, Festool now offers an 18-volt, four-speed Hammerdrill Driver (model PDC 18) and a new Rotary Hammer: model BHC 18. The company also rolled out its C 18 Drill Driver driver as an 18-volt tool. And, if you’ve ever wished for a Festool Track Saw with “use anywhere” convenience, you can now buy the TSC 55 Cordless Track Saw, which operates on either one or two 18-volt batteries. (We reported its arrival in an earlier eZine “What’s In Store,” and you can read more about the Track Saw by clicking here.)
Four new cordless tools released in a single launch is newsworthy on its own. But there were two other cordless announcements that grabbed our attention, too. The first concerns batteries. Concurrent with the June tool launch, Festool unveiled a 5.2Ah battery — a step up in runtime from its previous 4.2 Ah version — and a more compact 2.6Ah battery. But here’s the clincher: these new batteries and the chargers that replenish them are getting more affordable, without sacrificing Festool quality. It’s a rare occasion these days when a power tool manufacturer suggests that battery prices are going down. Rather, in a cordless-hungry tool market, batteries are disposable commodities with often wallet-pounding replacement costs.
“So many times when a customer looks at investing in a cordless system,” says Rick Bush, Festool’s marketing product manager, “the price of batteries can influence the purchase decision, usually in a negative way. (Our) price reduction in batteries and chargers does not reflect a change in the quality or performance that our customers expect.”
Instead, Bush explains that battery and charger prices are becoming more affordable because they deliver long-lasting performance as well as high quality. They deliver, on the whole, trouble-free value. Festool is passing those savings, presumably stemming from lower incidents of repairs and warranty claims, onto the customer.
“We provide a three-year warranty on both batteries and chargers, knowing full well that we can stand behind them,” Bush says. “When someone is weighing out which cordless system to invest in, they should find the price of Festool batteries and chargers to be an attractive element as well as knowing they are getting Festool quality.”
For harder specifics, Bush says that compared to Festool’s previous generation of 4.2Ah batteries, the company has reduced the price of new batteries by an average of 41 percent and chargers by 58 percent — a substantial savings.
Here’s the third big development on Festool’s cordless front: you now have more buying options for specific models of tools than were available previously. Festool has created a new tiered buying program called PowerSelect. It offers up to three versions of a particular tool, in Basic, Plus and Set packages. “Basic” includes the tool and a Systainer case but no batteries or charger. It’s similar to the “bare” tool option that many other manufacturers offer. If you currently own Festool cordless tools, you can now expand your collection but use the batteries and charger you already own instead of buying those accessories over and over again with each new tool.
The PowerSelect “Plus” option includes batteries and a charger as well as a Systainer case. Consider it to be the former entry-level point for starting a Festool cordless system. “The Plus level gets you at a functional level with the same tool you’d buy with the Basic and Set versions,” Bush says.
“Set” versions include the tool, batteries, a charger and Systainer case and some additional accessories. Currently, Set options focus on cordless drills, with additional chucks rounding out those packages. However, some other tools have tiered pricing but don’t have a “Set” option. Bush points out that the new TSC 55 Track Saw, for instance, has a “Plus XL” version that includes two batteries and two chargers, as well as a Plus XL-FS option, which adds a guide rail to the accessory list. Carvex Cordless Jigsaws and the new BHC Rotary Hammerdrill have only Basic and Plus packages.
Opening up Festool cordless tools to a “Basic” configuration promises real value. Using the same TSC55 Track Saw as a case-in-point, Bush says users will save about 35 percent over buying the tool as the Plus-XL with batteries and chargers. The Basic package is 43 percent cheaper than the PlusXL-FS option.
While this summer’s new tools help to fill out Festool’s cordless family, which includes drill/drivers, rotary hammer drills, jigsaws, track saw and LED worklights, Bush says there’s still more room for expansion in this arena. Brushless motors and high-density batteries will continue to make more and different cordless tools possible. But, he says Festool’s criteria for cordless is that the tool’s performance must match a corded counterpart. The TSC 55 Track Saw, as an example, runs at a matching blade rpm, delivers comparable cutting quality and uses the same blades and accessories as a corded TS 55.
Bush wouldn’t comment on the next cordless tools in the company’s R&D pipeline, but he does offer this hint: “We are working on not only making existing tools into cordless versions, but also introducing products that appeal to our customer base and beyond that have not yet been seen before from Festool. And rest assured, they will integrate into the Festool system.”
Learn more about Festool cordless products and buying options by clicking here.