Saws without the roar; a Porsche 911 that doesn’t make a sound – perhaps fans of real engine noise respond to the newest advances with some anguish. That may be understandable – but there’s no doubt that investing in cordless technology has more than paid off for STIHL, as well as for the environment and a few of our customers’ neighbors: In 2017 alone, the company achieved triple-digit sales growth in the battery segment. Demand is skyrocketing, especially in the US market and in Western Europe – and the upward trend is still going.
The boom started just over ten years ago. In 2006, the STIHL management team and family made the decision to invest in the new technology. A small team of three employees was formed to cover the new topic as required. Three years later, the first STIHL battery pack housing was launched on the market. The associated product line included four power tools back then.
A lot has happened since: The number of cordless power tools has risen to over 30; the number of colleagues to over 120; a center of excellence has been built; and we have made major breakthroughs in areas including battery life and charging times. In terms of energy density, STIHL engineers are close to increasing this by a factor of three, which will be the next big leap. What’s more, new functions mean that total charging time has been reduced by 25 percent (as at 2018). Cordless technology features across almost the entire STIHL portfolio, so customers can choose between a combustion engine or cordless power tool in almost every case.
In the constant contest between increased running time, shortened charging time and enhanced power density, one criterion often gets overlooked: Combinability. Despite continuous development, all STIHL battery packs, machines and chargers within a product family are fully compatible. The electronics in the device select the optimum performance depending on the battery used. Even the bars, chains and blades are adapted in such a way that they do not consume unnecessary energy from the battery. That represents an incredible level of technical development.
Anyone who wants to understand the hype needs to take a look behind the hedges and garden fences. Just in Germany, more than half the population has their own garden. The majority of these people are ready to spend money on that space – whether on plants, structural elements or power tools. Quiet, low-emission and low-maintenance battery products are worth the premium to them. Private users are currently converting to batteries across all buyer levels. This type of drive is also increasingly of interest to forestry and landscaping professionals, due to the steadily rising performance on offer.
STIHL has responded to the growing demand for cordless products by offering a wide range. As well as lawn mowers, hedge trimmers, leaf blowers and chainsaws, this includes intelligent robotic mowers that already autonomously navigate the garden and in future are also set to take over irrigation control and other tasks in addition to lawn care.
Irrespective of the drive technology, STIHL is currently pouring huge amounts of expertise into the useful and user-oriented digitalization of power tools. Preventive maintenance and theft protection are just some of the features that the development teams are working on. However, fans of analog combustion technology need not worry that the real chainsaw sound they love will be relegated solely to MP3 in the future: STIHL also remains true to its origins, the gasoline-powered tool business.