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Over recent years, the electric forklift has quickly become one of the most popular types of forklifts on the market. Environmentally friendly, cost-efficient and quiet, electric forklifts have advanced so far that NMC Material Handling reports that electric forklifts have a massive 60% market share, compared to 40% for IC (internal combustion or propane) forklifts.

So why choose an electric forklift (like this Toyota forklift) over an IC or traditional diesel forklift? We’ve highlighted some of the major reasons we think an electric forklift might be the right choice for your business.

They’re Cheaper Long-Term: Electric vs Gas Forklift Price

Toyota forklift

One of the first things every buyer looks at when considering buying a forklift (or any machinery) is the price. Upfront, electric forklifts are more expensive, however they have a lower operating cost due to reduced maintenance and fuel costs. A study in Ohio found that an electric forklift was almost 4 times cheaper to use over the course of a year, compared to an LPG forklift.

Another aspect of pricing is the lifespan of your forklift. In general, an IC forklift will last about 10,000 hours (estimated at 2,000 a year). While electric forklifts will exceed this due to fewer moving parts and therefore, fewer potential problems. However, the battery in an electric forklift is still estimated to last around 5 years before needing to be replaced.

Of course, there’s also no cost of fuel. A big plus for any business!

Related: View Forklift Auctions Here

Electric Forklift Service: They Cost Less To Run

Electric forklift battery

Hand-in-hand with price is maintenance. Whenever your forklift is being serviced or undergoing regular maintenance, it isn’t making you money. Electric forklifts require less maintenance over their lifespan compared to IC forklifts. With no need for traditional engines, transmissions or radiators, and fewer moving parts in general, electric forklifts have minimal maintenance requirements.

This means your forklift will be in the warehouse and working for longer between downtimes, costing you less each time it goes for a service.

They’re Easy To Use

Electric Forklift steering wheel

Maybe not the first thing you consider when you start looking, but useability is crucial for every forklift in your business. Electric forklifts have incredible useability when compared to LPG and diesel forklifts. Due to their heavy battery, electric forklifts tend to have better stability and a lower centre of gravity, making them great for high and heavy loads. Their compact design also helps them have a smaller turning radius, perfect for crowded and busy warehouses.

Benefits of an electric forklift:

  • Better stability
  • Smaller turning radius
  • Less vibration
  • Better rear visibility
  • Automatic braking

With no big engine installed, there is less vibration, helping to reduce operator fatigue and improving operator comfort. There is also (in some cases) better rear visibility, as there is no exhaust or fuel tanks to take up space.

Electric forklifts also tend to use the motor as a brake, meaning as soon as you take your foot off the accelerator the forklift automatically brakes and comes to a stop. This is a great safety feature for busy warehouses and other sites.

But one of the biggest useability benefits of an electric forklift is their ability to be used in enclosed spaces and around food and produce. While diesel and IC forklifts are fine in open areas, to use them indoors requires proper ventilation, which can sometimes be very expensive.

The emissions may also be a problem around fresh food and produce. Some industries may even require using an electric forklift to comply with health and safety and they produce zero emissions.

Electric Forklifts Are More Environmentally Friendly

Forklift - front with pallet forks

Probably the most obvious of all the reasons, but electric forklifts are also environmentally friendly.

While there is still some debate on the environmental impact of the manufacturing of the batteries, it’s hard to deny the impact that zero emissions has on the environment. Electric forklifts don’t waste fuel when idling, as the motor will completely stop when not in use. This helps to increase your efficiency as well as further reduce the minor environmental impact that charging the battery has. As longer operating times means fewer recharges and better up-time for you or your operators.

How Do I Know if an Electric Forklift is Right for Me?

When it all comes down to it, there are pros and cons for both IC and electric forklifts. In an enclosed workspace, or somewhere where noise, pollution or big bulky machines are an issue, then electric forklifts are the choice hands-down. Outdoors in rough terrain is about the only time when it may be a better choice to get an IC forklift. But even then, there are many newer electric models with tyres and modern designs that give them similar performance to diesel forklifts in rough, outdoor settings.

If you’re not sure where to get started, why not browse through some of our electric forklift listings to get started.

What do you think about electric forklifts? Tell us in the comments below!


Sources: tmhnc.com, epequipment.co.nz, nmc-corp.com

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