Sky appears to be the limit for forklift truck markets

The North American forklift truck market is growing at a strong pace and shows no signs of slowing up. In 2018, over 250,000 new forklift truck units were sold; this marks a 2.8 percent increase over 2017, itself a record breaking year for the industry.

Research by the Industrial Truck Association (ITA) found that 260,180 forklift truck units were sold in 2018. Of these units, 64 percent were electric. In 2018, the forklift truck market contributed $25 billion to US GDP. This trend is also reflected in other regions of the world.

Scott Johnson, vice president of marketing and sales for Clark Material Handling Company, a major producer of forklift trucks, described the industry as “very healthy.”

“As an industry, we’re the benefactors of several years of continuous growth that has enabled manufacturers to invest in their facilities and manufacturing processes,” he said, per Modern Materials Handling. “Today, everyone is really turning out world-class products.”

Johnson, who is also ITA’s chairman of the board of directors, added: “As a group of manufacturers, we continually find ways to improve how we make our trucks and the safety features that we put in those trucks. I’m very proud of my peers in that sense.”

Growth is evident across all forklift classes. Increasingly, however, customers are looking to electric vehicles for solutions.

“When an electric truck’s performance characteristics are equal to or greater than those of an IC [internal combustion] truck, it’s a real game-changer,” Johnson explained. “The products have matured to a point where there is market acceptance, and where the consumer or end user has got it in his or her mind that it’s okay to use.”

He added that “There are electric trucks now that can handle tasks and perform in a way that’s equal to IC counterbalanced trucks. That’s really changed the dynamic of the marketplace.”

Summing up the current market landscape, Johnson said that even a slight dip in sales performance this year would constitute a success:

“I continue to have cautious optimism. When I look at the momentum and the inertia that our industry has had for the last five to seven years, it’s been fantastic. Even if we have a slight pullback in 2019, it will still be a fantastic year.”

Jeffrey Boyle

Jeffrey Boyle is from Madison, Wisconsin, where he obtained his bachelor's degree in business communications. When he's not reading or writing about construction equipment and machinery, he can probably be found walking--or being walked by--his three Boston Terriers.