The last decade has led to many improvements in electric forklifts. Not only have they been built to withstand outdoor usage; battery and charger technology has changed dramatically. These advancements have led to a dramatic increase in electric forklift sales. The chart below shows the increasing disparity between electric and traditional forklift deliveries (chart from Industrial Truck Association presentation to the ITA President’s Forum in Coronado, California in 2019)
In 2019, the number of electric forklifts increased to 70% of forklift deliveries. As you can see, the benefits are starting to be realized by more and more companies.
Driving this growth in the electric forklift market are two primary considerations: costs and environmental concerns. While capital costs for electric forklifts are higher than their internal combustion counterparts, the decrease in fuel and maintenance costs more than make up the difference over the forklift’s useful life. But there are other factors that influence the decision-making process and causing more users to convert to electric forklifts. The top four that we observe include:
Costs – As previously stated, an electric forklift and accompanying batteries and chargers result in a higher capital investment upfront, but those initial costs are more than compensated for over time. An electric forklift produces no heat, has far fewer moving parts (no belts, fans, pumps, filters, oil, etc.).
Some estimates put maintenance costs for electric forklifts at 40% less than internal combustion counterparts (First Energy)
In addition to maintenance costs, energy costs for electric forklifts are far less costly than for LPG-, diesel- or gas-powered forklifts. The cost per hour to operate an internal combustion forklift can be as much as $.75. LP tanks are almost always exchanged with fuel still remaining in the tank. Unless you’re getting credit on unused LP fuel, you’re paying for fuel that you’re giving back to your LP provider. Visit the Electric Power Research Institute to use their savings calculator to compute a rough estimate of your own savings. We realize that not all material handling operations are identical and your savings may vary, but the illustration certainly demonstrates that it is less costly to operate electric forklifts.
Health and Safety – Electric forklifts eliminate harmful carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide from your facility, greatly improving the air your employees breathe. The effects of a build-up of CO can result in nausea, headaches, disorientation and in some cases, hospitalization and even death. This is compounded in the colder months where windows and dock doors are often not opened.
Utilizing electric forklifts allows you to keep the doors and windows closed at any time without fear of creating an unsafe work environment for your employees.
Flexibility and Performance – Just 10 years ago, electric employees could rarely compete with internal combustion forklifts, particularly outdoors. This is no longer the case. Electric forklift and charging technology have advanced greatly: fast-charge system, opportunity charging, sealed batteries and motors, and Lithium Iron Phosphate battery technology, which eliminates battery-charging altogether. Battery capacity and energy efficiency have also allowed electric forklifts to be produced in much higher capacities than in previous years. These advancements have changed the landscape of electric forklift operation. There are now few operations where electric forklift cannot compete with IC forklifts.
There has never been a better time to explore electric forklifts to replace your internal combustion fleet. Contact us at 800-828-2804 for a consultation and quote. You will be on your way to a cleaner and more efficient material handling and storage operation.