North Americans, the next time you pass the power tool aisle of your local Lowes, you may notice something surprising: Tools in familiar Hitachi green or silver will no longer say "Hitachi," but "Metabo"—complete with the latter brand's accurate font. (After "Metabo," you'll notice a small block that says "HPT.")
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The transition started last month with Hitachi's MultiVolt cordless tools, and the rest of Hitachi's tools will be rebranded after December. The question is, why? The answer is pretty dumb, and first we have to give you some background info:
- Hitachi Koki was the power tools subsidiary formerly owned by Hitachi Ltd. in Japan
- In 2016 Hitachi Koki bought Metabo, the German power tool brand
- In 2017 Hitachi Koki itself was purchased from Hitachi Ltd. by KKR, Henry Kravis' investment firm
- Following the buyout, since Hitachi Koki was no longer owned by Hitachi Ltd., the brass (read: KKR) decided to change the name to Koki Holdings Co.
In short, I think KKR is making a dumb move. While it's true that Hitachi the power tool company no longer has anything to do with Hitachi the conglomerate, the former still has a decent reputation and more importantly, brand awareness among consumers. I'm not sure your average Joe even knows Metabo, which is a more trades-based tool company, like Hilti.
Secondly, if KKR was combining Hitachi and Metabo, the name switch might make sense. But they've announced that Hitachi and Metabo will remain separate companies, whose tools will still have entirely different designs with no compatibility nor interchangeability. Yet the logos will be identical, except for that inverse "HPT" after "Metabo" on the formerly-known-as-Hitachi tools.
"At a glance," the company writes, "customers will easily understand that this is the same brand just under the new name, Metabo HPT." I disagree, I don't think they will easily understand.
In any case, the good news is that if you own any Hitachi power tools, your warranties will still be honored, though you'll be bringing them to service centers labeled "Metabo HPT."