April 2021: CAT power tools launched this year in South Africa, exclusively through Vermont Sales. There was a subsequent announcement discussing that the DX12 hammer drill be also be available at Makro stores.
July 2020: The original announcement follows, with minimal updates to reflect the updated information.
CAT, which you’ll know from their heavy construction equipment and occasional licensed tool-related products, revealed a new line of cordless power tools in July 2020, when this post was first published.
They newly announced CAT cordless power tools were said to feature brushless motors, with claims of 10X longer motor life, 25% more power, and 50% more runtime.
There was an empty landing page at Lowe’s, and an international website with images and specs of the new tools. (This might be a stretch, but do you think that Lowe’s was shopping for a new cordless system and the FLEX 24V Max system won out over CAT?)
The CAT 18V cordless power tools lineup was shown to be launching with a 2Ah Li-ion battery, 4Ah Li-ion battery, or 5ah GRAPHENE battery.
CAT says this about their new graphene battery:
Graphene* polymer lithium battery
- On-board battery capacity indicator
- Instant charging to full in 18min
- High max discharge current service tool better
- keep cool pack for continuous working
- Guaranteed 5 times longer cycle life
- Tough work in extreme low temperature
An 18 minute full charge time? That’s not “instant” as they say, but it’s still incredibly impressive. (Note, in other places CAT Power Tools says the full charging time is 20 minutes.)
But what’s this graphene stuff all about?
Scientifically, graphene is a single layer of carbon arranged in a hexagonal lattice, and it has some unique properties. There is a lot of research going on right now, with things like graphene nanotubes.
But, you can also create graphene by sticking a piece of Scotch tape to a block of graphite (basically pencil lead material) and peeling it off gently.
Graphene is a special and exotic material, but it can also be rather basic. Think about diamonds, and how you can have 1 carat jewelry that costs thousands of dollars, or some cheap industrial diamond particle abrasives.
In this graphic, there’s an asterisk with fine print:
Graphene polymer is integrated into the cathode of battery cells to get enhanced performance of battery.
There’s also a bullet point that says:
- Graphene’s low resistance keeps cells cooler under heavy load.
It seems there’s some graphene used in the cathode (-) end of the battery cells – at the least. Looking at some scientific paper abstracts that go back to at least 2013, graphene improves electron conductivity of lithium ion battery cathode materials.
Generally, higher conductivity means lower resistance, which means less heat.
But, is this same technology available to other brands? What’s the likelihood that CAT with their nascent cordless power tool line, has access to special tech or Li-ion battery cell tech that other brands are locked out of?
Well, CAT does say that theirs are the “World’s First Graphene battery on power tools.” But this could just mean the battery cell contact is graphene-coated.
In other words, I’m not impressed – I see this as flashy marketing, and it’ll take more information to convince me otherwise. The fast charging rate seems like a big deal, but the CAT cordless power tool lineup is starting to take on an “as seen on TV” feel.
CAT’s new 18V cordless power tool system is launching with quite the selection of tools, including:
- Angle grinders
- Rotary hammer
- Circular saws
- Impact driver
- Combo kits
This is all part of CAT’s new “1 for All” platform.
Here, you can see that there will be a very broad selection of cordless power tools included in the 18V system. In addition to “core” tools, namely drills, an impact driver, circular and reciprocating saws, there will also be other staples such as an oscillating multi-tool, grinder, jig saw, planer, sander, and more.
But, there are also some corded power tools, such as a heat gun and a polisher.
And also new 12V (Max?) cordless power tools.
So, 1 For All, as long as you stay within the 18V system? Or is that meant to be one cordless power tool system for all types of users?
The new CAT brushless power tools have a mostly matte black color scheme, with dark red and of course CAT-yellow accents.
Spec-wise, the new CAT brushless power tools look to be competitive.
If I had to guess, I’d say they are going to be marketed towards DIYers at mid-level pricing. The new CAT 18V cordless circular saw, for example, looks to be positioned between Ryobi and Kobalt or Ridgid in design.
What’s interesting is that CAT revealed so many different cordless power tools all at once as part of an initial launch wave.
And then there are even more – a corded woodworking router, tile cutter, and cut off saw.
Some have theorized that CAT partnered with Positec for these new cordless power tools.
Positec is the company behind Rockwell and Worx power tools, and they have also partnered with (Sears) Craftsman in the past, making quite a few of their power tools as well.
Update: It is confirmed that Positec is the manufacturer behind these tools.
The new CAT cordless oscillating multi-tool, at the least, bears a family resemblance to Positec’s Rockwell-specific blade change mechanism.
There are only so many companies that are capable of developing this many tools, or at least only so many companies that could do so competently, and Positec is one of them.
When the CAT tools were first revealed to the world, it was unclear as to when or even where these CAT cordless power tools will be sold. It’s possible they might someday be released in the USA, but it’s still unknown at this time.
It is also possible that we will see some of these innovations come to Positec’s Rockwell or Worx brands.
Here are some model numbers for the new CAT power tools:
CAT Cordless Drills
- DX11 drill/driver
- DX12 hammer drill
- DX13 higher powered hammer drill
- DX12K hammer drill and impact driver combo kit
- DX14 12V drill
- DX15 12V impact drill (hammer drill)
- DX17 corded hammer drill
- DX16 higher powered corded hammer drill
The CAT 12V drills don’t seem to feature brushless motors.
CAT Fastening Tools
- DX71 18V 3-speed impact driver
CAT Rotary Hammers
- DX21 18V rotary hammer
- DX26 corded rotary hammer
- DX27 higher powered rotary hammer
- DX28 demolition hammer
- DX31B 18V angle grinder
- DX37 750W 115mm/125mm angle grinder
- DX371 750W 115mm/125mm angle grinder
- DX372 750W 100mm angle grinder
- DX36 1200W 125mm angle grinder
- DX35 2350W 230mm angle grinder
- DX351 2350W 230mm angle grinder
- DX352 2350W 180mm angle grinder
CAT Saws and Cutting Tools
- DX53B 18V circular saw
- DX59 1400W circular saw
- DX56 1800W circular saw
- DX51B 18V cordless jig saw
- DX57 750W 26mm jig saw
- DX54 750W 20mm jig saw
- DX52B 18V cordless reciprocating saw
- DX58 1200W reciprocating saw
- DX89 2100W router
- DX55 110mm tile cutter
- DX519 355mm cut off saw
CAT Material Removal Tools
- DX81B 18V cordless planer
- DX86 900W planer
- DX87 2000W heat gun
- DX38 180mm polisher
CAT Cordless Worklights and Radios
- DX62B 18V jobsite light
- DX61B 18V Bluetooth radio
- DX42B 18V orbital rotary sander
- DX46 125mm rotary sander
- DX461 125mm rotary sander
- DX47 1/4 sheet palm sander
- DX471 1/4 sheet palm sander
- DX45 1/3 sheet sander
- DX44 1/2 sheet sander
- DX48 belt sander
CAT Oscillating Multi-Tools
- DX41B 18V brushless multi-tool
- DX49 350W multi-tool
CAT Cordless Power Tool Batteries and Chargers
- DXB2 2.0Ah battery
- DXB4 4.0Ah battery
- DXB5 5.0Ah Graphene battery
- DXC4 18V 4A charger
- DXC15 15A charger
The DXC15 is a 15A battery charger (whoa!), and CAT Power Tools says it can charge the 5Ah Graphene battery to 80% in 15 minutes and full charge in 20.
When paired with the other batteries, the DXC15 will recharge the 2.0Ah or 4.0Ah batteries in 30 minutes. It charges the 2.0Ah battery at a 4A rate, the 4.0Ah battery at an 8A rate, and the 5.0Ah Graphene battery at a 15A rate.
The DXC4 charger can fully charge the 2.0Ah battery in 35 minutes, or the 4.0Ah battery in 68 minutes.
Oh, There’s More – CAT Slide Lock Tool Boxes
As if an entire new line of corded and cordless power tools wasn’t enough, there are also new Slide Lock tool boxes and power tool accessory cases.
There was a lot of first-glance marketing information and details for the tools, but no press release, media information, or other such resources to put the new CAT power tools into context. I still haven’t learned much, other than the lineup launched in South Africa in 2021.
The chargers are labeled “DX: PRO,” and while some of the tools certainly have pro-level cordless power tool specs, I’m not convinced they’re aiming to compete with current market leaders such as Dewalt, Milwaukee, Bosch, or Makita.
There’s no mention of warranty, pricing, or availability.
“Let’s Do the Work,” “1 For All,” and “Graphene” don’t quite provide much context either.
The new CAT cordless power tools don’t look to be entry-level, as they sport more premium features and specs. The brushless reciprocating saw, for example, has an oscillating mode, rafter hook, and pivot foot plate adjustment. The CAT cordless circular saw has a magnesium shoe and aluminum blade guard.
I’m now getting the feeling that the new CAT power tools might be aimed at valued-minded pros, and perhaps DIYers with greater demands and higher budgets, but some of these tools do look to be very serious offerings.
At first glance, there was definitely an oh, more licensed CAT products feel to this, with the CAT and Caterpillar brand seemingly slapped onto a limited selection of tools. But with a deeper look, that isn’t the case at all.
This isn’t like their metal tool box.
Or work boots.
This looks to be a major push. Where else will these tools end up – North America, Europe, Asia – or will they only be available in South Africa? All of the above?
Where is there room for CAT-branded corded and cordless power tools, tool boxes, and power tool accessories?
If they do launch in the USA, will the CAT tool brand follow “as seen on TV” marketing that seems to have made Worx and Rockwell flagship products so successful? Will they be embraced by a brick & mortar big box retailer, and if so which one?
Everyone knows the CAT and Caterpillar brand from their heavy construction equipment. But can this sell their tools?
Despite some wrinkling of the nose at the marketing language and claims, such as “Graphene batteries!!”, CAT’s introductory selection is nothing to sneeze at. This must have taken a lot of work to get off the ground, and on paper, they made the right calls to get the attention of more discerning users.
If CAT does launch these tools here, expect for there to be a lot of marketing hype – especially if the line is made and promoted by Positec. But, like other Positec tools, quite a bit of that hype will be deserved.
At first glance, I couldn’t help but question if and why the world needed a line of CAT-branded cordless power tools. But, a deeper look has me convinced that they at least have the potential to make waves, and to shoehorn themselves into relevance in a typically crowded industry.
Let’s watch and see.
Dear Positec and CAT Power Tools: I’m glad you liked something I said in this post enough to quote it on your website, but please – it’s ToolGuyd, not “Toolguy.”