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Electrical or Internal Combustion Forklifts?

Market behavior from 1988 to present indicates a considerable growth of Class I equipment in comparison with classes IV and V. This can be mainly explained by a growth in customer trust on electrical equipment, as well as the capacity of these vehicles, except some of them, can perform every common tasks of internal combustion equipment.

There are several factors to assess before making decisions between electrical or internal combustion forklifts. Some of these factors to be considered, without including all of them, are the following:

Direct Costs

  • Ownership Cost: This factor should include the equipment purchase cost
  • Energy Cost: The annual energy cost needed to operate an equipment, on this line, batteries and charges required for an electrical equipment
  • Maintenance Cost: It is the labor cost required for keeping the equipment operating.
  • Repair Cost: It is the repair cost required for keeping the equipment operating.
  • Equipment Useful Life: Required element to calculate annual costs


  • Space for energy: Required space for replacement batteries, chargers, tow trucks for batteries or roller switcher, electrical installations required, gas tank area, fuel storage, etc.
  • Space for maneuvering: Storage aisle, transport aisle, shipping area, etc.
  • Special conditions: Floor type, equipment size and weight, ramps, uneven floor, transport distance, storage height, etc.


  • Physical Contaminants: Gas or liquid contaminants emitted
  • Noise: Reached sound level by equipment operation
  • Temperature: welfare levels reduction, caused by temperatures emitted by equipment operation.
  • Contaminating Waste: waste in the end of the equipment lifespan


  • Seated or Standing Operator
  • Front or Side Operator

Direct Costs

To perform a simple cost analysis, equipment with similar operative parameters has been compared:

  • Counterbalanced Forklift, Seated Operator, solid pneumatic tire, 5,000 lb @ 24” c.c.
  • Work Shift: 8 hours daily shift and 1920 effective hours per year.
  • Exchange Rate: 30 Mexican pesos per 1 US Dollar
  • Labor Cost: $30.00 USD per hour
  • Cost per carburetion gas lt.: $7.65 Pesos/lt
  • Regular Gas Consumption: 00 lt/hour
  • Electric Energy Consumption: 34 Kwh
  • Cost per Kwh on peak demand: $1.23 pesos/Kwh


Comparative Table Between LPG Forklifts and Electric Forklifts:

Ownership Cost LPG Electric
Komatsu FG25T Komatsu FB25 SHU
Equipment Price $31,980 USD $34,509USD
Estimated Useful Life 8 years 11 years
Annual Ownership Cost $3,998 USD $3,137 USD
Battery Cost (5 years useful life) 2 batteries NA $13,132 USD
Battery Annual Cost NA $2,624 USD
Charger Cost NA $2,462 USD
Annual Charger Cost, High Frequency, Opportunity NA $224 USD
Annual Ownership Subtotal $3,925 USD $3,892 USD
Energy Cost    
Energy $1.877 USD/hr $0.478 USD/hr
Total Energy Subtotal Cost for 1920 labor hrs. $3,604 USD $919 USD
Maintenance Cost    
Annual Labor Cost $1,440 USD $960 USD
Basic Yearly Repairs Cost $1,536 USD $1,152 USD
Annual Maintenance Subtotal $2,976 USD $2,112 USD
Total Annual Cost $10,578 USD $9,017USD


Electrical Space:

  • Electrical Forklift: Requires storage space for replacement batteries, a battery per shift should be taken into account and the required space to charge and storage them, in addition to chargers and tow truck, forklift and aisle area, the area must be ventilated and protected from weather conditions.
  • Combustion Forklift: It requires a gas tank per shift, and those tanks storage area should be considered or a filling tank. Fuel storage must be safely located and separated from main facilities.


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