Makita has come out with a new cordless router kit, XTR01M8J. Unfortunately, this is just a new kit configuration for their existing 18V router, rather than a new model.
I recently posted about the new Makita XGT 36V/40V Max cordless router that’s now available overseas. (Makita USA has not responded to inquiries as to the XGT router’s USA availability.)
As Makita says that their new XGT cordless router performs 35% faster than their 18V router, the appearance of a new cordless router kit at US retailers quickly piqued my interest and attention.
My heart sunk a little when I realized this is just another 18V router, and then again when I realized it’s the same router that launched several years ago.
At the time of this posting, the Makita XTR01 router is available as a bare tool (XTR01Z) for $129, and as a kit (XTR01T7) for $399. There was also a single-battery and trim base-only kit (XTR01M8J) that was priced at $279.
The $399 kit gives you a (fixed) trim base, a plunge-cutting base, edge guide, fast charger, (2) 5.0Ah batteries, and a stackable tool box.
This new kit, XTR01M8J, comes with the router, edge guide, charger, (1) 4.0Ah battery, and stackable tool box.
Here’s where things get confusing.
The new Makita XTR01M8J kit looks to replace their XTR01T8J kit, which is no longer available at every online retailer that I checked.
Basically, Makita USA swapped out the 5Ah battery for a 4Ah battery.
At this time, the new 4Ah kit is priced at $279, which is what the 5Ah kit used to be priced at.
Makita USA did something similar with their 18V X2 cordless track saw. I thought the 4Ah kit could be a Black Friday or Holiday special, as Makita usually bundles lower capacity batteries in their promotional kits and “special buys.” But, it wasn’t a promotional SKU; the 4Ah kit seemingly replaced the 5Ah kit at all of the online retailers I checked.
In 2021, Makita USA launched new SubCompact cordless power tool kits that were bundled with 1.5Ah batteries, a size they list as discontinued on their website.
The new router kit still gives you a fast charger, and also the stackable tool case. It does not look like anything else has changed.
It is unclear what prompted these new kits with battery substitutions, or which tools Makita USA will give similar treatment to.
Is there a shortage of 5Ah Li-ion battery cells? Is this a way to help manage increasing costs?
Orange juice and ice cream used to be sold in half gallon quantities, before the “grocery shrink ray” reduced container sizes to offset higher costs. That could be what’s happening here, in a way.
Generally, 18V 5Ah cordless power tool batteries cost more than 4Ah batteries. So if costs are higher, swapping in a 4Ah battery could be a way to reduce costs, rather than keeping a 5Ah battery and raising kit pricing.
So is that what’s happening? Is Makita USA replacing 5Ah kits with 4Ah kits to avoid having to raise prices?
Are there marketing motivations behind this, now that Makita is also trying to grow their XGT 36V/40V Max userbase?
Personally, I’d rather miss out on the large tool box, especially given the compact size of a trim router, than pay the same amount for a 4Ah battery kit. But, at least they didn’t swap the standard fast charger for the slower charger bundled in “special buy” kits.
A 5Ah battery has 25% greater charge capacity compared to a 4Ah battery. Maybe it’s just me, but if I’m buying a premium tool kit, I’d rather get a 5Ah battery, even if I have to pay a little more. But, that’s just my preference.
It is unclear if this and the other 4Ah kit substitutions are temporary or permanent.
When looking at listings for the international version of this router, I only found two-battery kits (5Ah), and single-battery kits that came bundled with a 6Ah battery.
Several years ago, another cordless toolmaker warned that the prices of 18650 Li-ion battery cells could go up over time, especially as 21700-sized cells become increasingly prevalent due to their preference in the electric vehicle market.
All of Makita’s 18V battery packs are built with 18650 cells; unlike other brands, Makita does not offer any 18V battery packs engineered with higher capacity and higher performing 21700-sized Li-ion cells.
Still, if these kit bundle changes were prompted by increased battery costs, as opposed to increased costs all around, Makita might not be the only brand having to make adjustments to their kit bundles.