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, according to a Navigant Research report Advanced Electric Forklift Technologies in North America.
Lead acid batteries will continue to hold a majority of sales for conventional forklifts, but they have limitations for some operators due to their limited runtime, long charge time and short life cycle.
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 kWh. Current Li-ion batteries are about three times the cost of a lead-acid battery, which, as a mature technology, is not expected to change. Prices for fuel cells, Li-ion batteries, and fast chargers are likely to fall.
Distribution centers run by companies such as Walmart and Sysco, as well as companies with plants requiring indoor forklifts, are adopting new technology for forklifts.
Earlier this year, Plug Power said hydrogen production systems, called on-site reformers, allow its GenDrive fuel cells to provide cost-effective power for smaller forklift truck fleets. With cost-efficient on-site hydrogen production proving to be a viable option, Plug Power is able to broaden its reach and supply fuel cells to customer sites with fleet sizes as small as 20 forklift trucks.