Advanced Electric Forklift Technologies in North America

Electric forklifts are capturing an increasing share of the materials handling market in North America. While conventional lead-acid batteries are a mature and well-entrenched technology in this market, they have limitations that are spurring interest in alternative electric technologies. These limitations relate to the length of charge time, runtime, and low cycle life. In addition, the need for spare lead-acid batteries and warehouse space and the labor hours devoted to charging and battery management result in high costs.

These costs provide an opportunity for advanced electric technologies for forklifts that may have higher upfront prices, but can reduce operating costs with longer runtime and reduced fueling. Advanced lead-acid batteries, lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries, and fuel cells are all being offered as technology solutions to the drawbacks of conventional lead-acid batteries in electric forklifts. Distribution centers run by companies such as Walmart and Sysco, as well as companies with plants requiring indoor forklifts, are adopting new technology for electric forklifts. Navigant Research expects sales of advanced lead-acid, Li-ion, and fuel cell forklifts in North America to reach over 47,000 units by 2025, up from approximately 10,000 units in 2016.

This Navigant Research report analyzes the market opportunity for advanced lead-acid, Li-ion, and fuel cells in the North American electric forklift market. The study discusses the key market drivers and the types of warehouse operations where advanced electric technologies provide a good return on investment. Forecasts for electric forklift sales by technology and country in North America extend through 2025. The report also reviews the significant challenges each technology faces in further penetrating the North American electric forklift market and provides brief profiles of major industry players.

Key Questions Addressed:
  • What is driving interest in alternatives to lead-acid batteries for electric forklifts in North America?
  • What market conditions will enable alternative electric technologies for forklifts to succeed?
  • Which advanced batteries will be adopted in the North American electric forklift market?
  • How much market share are fuel cells expected to gain in this market?
  • How can advanced electric technologies improve productivity within industrial vehicle fleets and warehouse operations?
Who needs this report?
  • Battery companies
  • Fuel cell companies
  • Hydrogen companies
  • Fuel cell fueling infrastructure companies
  • Forklift OEMs
  • Industrial forklift fleets
  • Government agencies
  • Investor community

Table of Contents

1. Executive Summary

2. Market Update      

2.1  Market Overview

2.1.1     Market Drivers

2.1.2     Market Barriers

2.2  Advanced Technology Options for Electric Forklifts

2.2.1     Advanced Lead-Acid Batteries

2.2.2     Li-Ion Batteries

2.2.3     Fuel Cells

2.3  Key Industry Players

2.3.1     AeroVironment

2.3.2     Aker Wade Power Technologies

2.3.3     Crown Equipment

2.3.4     Hyster-Yale

2.3.5     Navitas Systems

2.3.6     Plug Power

2.3.7     Raymond Corp.

3. Market Forecasts

4. Conclusions and Recommendations

List of Charts and Figures

  • Advanced Electric Forklift Sales by Technology, North America: 2016-2025
  • Electric Forklift Shipments by Class, United States: 1995-2015
  • Construction of the UItraBattery
  • Electric Forklift Sales by Country, North America: 2016-2025

List of Tables

  • Forklift Classifications
  • Lead-Acid Forklift Characteristics: North America
  • Lead-Acid Battery Characteristics
  • Comparison of Technology Types
  • 10 kWh Class 1 and Class 2 Forklift Total Cost of Operations Comparison

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