A new study has predicted that the electric forklift will achieve near-universal usage by 2020, overtaking the lead-acid forklift batteries and diesel forklifts that are widely used today and allowing for fewer emissions of greenhouse gases, heavy metals and other harmful chemicals.
According to a recent Navigant Research study, electric forklift sales throughout North America are poised to reach levels exceeding $500 million per year by 2020, a significant increase from the $100 million in sales generated in 2013.
AutoBlog reports that the massive jump in electric forklift sales will stem from falling prices of the lithium-ion batteries that these forklifts depend upon. Currently, lead-acid batteries are more commonly used because they cost just a third of what it costs to operate a lithium-ion battery. By 2020, the average cost of using lithium-ion batteries will fall to just $180 per kilowatt hour, which is even less than the operating a lead-acid battery today.
In addition, falling prices for technologies like fast chargers and fuel-cell technology will all help zero-emission forklifts perform better and have longer lifespans, which will in turn drive sales further, the study predicts.
While lead-acid batteries are widely used to power forklifts across North America, they have a number of drawbacks that would lead consumers to flock to a viable alternative. Lead-acid batteries suffer from limited runtime, a lengthy charging period and a relatively short life cycle. That’s not to mention their highly hazardous nature to both warehouse personnel and the environment, given their corrosive contents.
Diesel-powered forklifts also suffer from high flammability and other hazards and are expensive to keep fueled. These diesel engines contribute to a warehouse’s carbon emissions as well, which worsens the problem of global climate change.
Given this, combined with the predicted fall in lithium-ion forklift battery technology, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the electric forklift will reign supreme by 2020.