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Electric or IC engine? Which is right for your site?

18 March, 2013

Whether you're looking for your first forklift truck or looking to replace an existing truck, choosing the right type can be daunting. And the fact that - as in all industries - the technological, legislative and environmental issues can change doesn't make your decision any easier.

What will help, though, is our easy-to-follow guide on whether an electric or an IC truck best serves your purpose.  When deciding between an electric and an IC truck, the key question - which itself raises many more questions - is your application...

The right questions to ask:

  • What do you need your forklift truck to do throughout its working day?
  • Does your current truck meet all your requirements or have there been changes to your application?
  • Will it work indoors, and, if so, is that all the time? If the truck will also work outdoors, then for how long each day?
  • What are the floor conditions like inside and outside? Do you have smooth floors, uneven floors or potholes or are they wet at any time?
  • Will the truck have to climb any gradients?
  • How many hours will the truck work?
  • What type of load will you be handling?

Pros and Cons

  • Once you've got your answers to these questions, you can weigh up the following pros and cons of electric and IC trucks:

Electric trucks - pros

  • Environmentally friendly
  • Quiet in operation
  • Fewer moving parts than an IC engine - therefore less maintenance, and lower maintenance and lifetime costs
  • Electric trucks are usually compact, which makes them manoeuvrable- especially in the case of the three- wheel design.
  • Less deration of mast at higher lift heightsVery adaptable: drive, acceleration, lift, tilt and auxiliary speeds can be adapted easily to suit application or driver.

Electric Trucks- cons

  • Generally not suitable for continuous outside use or in wet conditions
  • Need good floor conditions
  • Need to charge the battery nightly or when necessary
  • High energy use on continuous high lifts and ramp work

IC engine diesel/ LPG- pros

  • Suitable for continuous use outside
  • No charging necessary- therefore the truck is always availale even outside of normal working hours
  • Can work on uneven surfaces
  • Initial lower cost than an electric truck
  • Larger capacities available than electric
  • LPG can be used in some indoor applications
  • LPG has lower emissions than diesel

IC engine diesel/ LPG- cons

  • Can be noisy
  • Higher emissions
  • HIgher maintenance cost
  • Higher fuel prices
  • Higher lifetime cost
  • Less adaptability than electric truck
  • Need to have a fuel supply

Our conclusion

Armed with this valuable information on the best type of forklift for your application and business, contact an experienced and helpful local truck dealer. Drawing on their expertise, you can refine your requirements and identify the best vehicle to help your business meet its needs and goals.

Have your say...

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