While lead acid batteries are well entrenched in the forklift market, they are not ideal for some operators because of their limited runtime, long charge time, and short life cycle. Over the next several years, advanced electric technologies, such as fuel cells, lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries, and fast chargers, will continue to gain a larger share of the forklift market, in terms of revenue, although the conventional lead-acid forklift option will continue to account for the majority of sales. Click to tweet: According to a new research brief from Navigant Research, annual revenue from advanced electric forklift technologies in North America will grow from slightly more than $100 million in 2013 to more than $500 million in 2020.
“Advanced electric technologies offer solid benefits, such as reduced downtime, better performance, and longer life, but they still must compete on cost,” says Lisa Jerram, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. “Where productivity benefits accrue quickly, more expensive electric technologies can provide a good return on investment and can compete with less expensive lead acid batteries and conventional charging.”
Cost remains a significant barrier to expansion in this market, the study concludes. Lead-acid batteries for lift trucks cost $2,500 to $5,500 per battery pack, and current lead-acid battery prices are around $200 to $280 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Current Li-ion batteries are approximately 3 times the cost of a lead-acid battery. Since lead-acid is a mature technology, prices are likely to remain the same. Prices for fuel cells, Li-ion batteries, and fast chargers, on the other hand, are likely to fall.
The report, “Advanced Electric Forklift Technologies in North America”, analyzes the market opportunity for polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells, direct methanol fuel cells, fast chargers, Li-ion batteries, and ultracapacitors for the North American forklift market. The report discusses the drivers for this market and the types of warehouse operations where the new technologies provide a good return on investment. Forecasts for electric forklift sales by technology and revenue from new electric technologies in forklifts in North America extend through 2020. The report also reviews the key challenges for each technology in further penetrating the market and provides brief profiles of key industry players. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the Navigant Research website.