Everything you need to know about electric forklifts

Everyone in the industry knows how important forklifts are to their operation. As a new generation of electric forklifts come through, more and more companies are switching from the old diesel and LPG types.

The question is, are they worth it? Should you be looking at an electric model for your next forklift?

This post answers our most commonly asked questions about electric forklifts, including how much they cost, why you should consider one, and which brands to buy.

What are the advantages of an electric forklift?

There are many advantages of electric forklifts over diesel or LPG ones.

Operational advantages

From an operation point of view, electric forklifts are easier to drive than traditional ones. With no clutch, you simply operate them with the steering wheel and accelerator.

Studies that monitor stress by measuring heart rate have shown that drivers of manual-transmission vehicles do experience significantly more stress than those in automatics, and the same applies to forklift drivers.

Drivers also report higher comfort levels when driving electric forklifts, as well as greatly reduced noise pollution.

Most electric forklifts have a much smaller turning arc, making them ideal for smaller warehouses and narrow aisle pallet racking.

All of these things combine to reduce stress, resulting in greater onsite safety and reduction of avoidable accidents.

Longer working time

Electric vehicles also have excellent operating times, certainly coming close to being on par with traditional combustion engines. Of course, you can run out of battery (just as you can run out of diesel), but with modern charging times and longer battery life improving with every generation, electric forklifts are comparable to their traditional counterparts in work hours.

Because of their batteries, they’re also useable indoors without the fear of employees breathing in dangerous carbon emissions.

Kinder to the environment

And of course, there is the environmental impact.

As more businesses turn their focus to sustainable practices, the search for fewer carbon emissions is on.

Replacing your gas-guzzling engines with electric batteries will certainly have a direct impact on your company’s carbon emissions.

Price ranges

The first thing to consider – are you buying a new or second-hand? This can make a huge difference to the price. If you’re on a budget, there are plenty of high-quality, second-hand forklifts available, if you know where to look.

There’s no way to give you a simple, hard-fast price for an electric forklift; there are different models, sizes and brands, all with their own price tags.

Running costs

Because they run on a battery, the running costs of electric vehicles are considerably lower than traditional combustion engines. Batteries do need replacing periodically but there’s no oil filter or spark plugs to replace, and with fewer moving parts, it’s less likely for something to break due to wear and tear. Battery life can be anywhere from five years to up to ten years with proper care and maintenance.

Servicing and parts for EV’s are cheaper, so mechanics charge less for annual check-ups and maintenance than regular vehicles.

Of course, batteries don’t last forever, so the cost of replacement, once the battery has died, will need to be taken into account.

Return on investment

Without the need to regularly stop to refuel, less chance of mechanical failure, and longer operating times, electric forklifts have greater productivity, improving your bottom line.

It’s also estimated that the cost of operating a forklift on electricity is approximately 10% of the cost of fossil fuels, providing immediate and ongoing savings.

All of these things make buying an electric forklift an investment rather than an expenditure.

Brands of electric forklifts

There are some great brands out there, building excellent forklifts of all shapes and sizes. Crown, Toyota, Heli, Hyundai, Hyster and others are well-known brands. But these are the three we have chosen to sell here at Northern Forklifts after testing and comparing the best on the market.


Founded in 1956, Hangcha has grown from a small company into one of the world’s leading equipment manufacturers.

The leading exporter of forklifts from China, they've been building forklifts for over 50 years and offer a full range of LPG, diesel and electric forklifts.

Hangcha engineers are constantly searching for improvements and innovations, such as the world-leading, lithium-ion battery-powered XC forklift range.


Combilift is the largest global manufacturer of multi-directional forklifts and an acknowledged leader in long load handling solutions. Their forklifts can be found in more than 85 countries around the world, with more than 60,000 trucks in use.

Combilift's 4 directional drive system makes them the perfect forklift to handle long loads such as timber and pipes, and is designed to improve your workflow by effectively becoming three forklifts in one.

Their electric range of forklifts cover everything from container loaders to straddle carriers, with their leading brand Aisle Master leading the way.

Aisle master

Like Hangcha, Aisle-Master has more than five decades of experience when it comes to building forklifts. Aisle Master is their excellent forklift range, and with a state-of-the-art production line, plus extensive R&D facilities, enables the pursuit of continual product enhancement, thus giving our customers nothing but the best.

From the frosty winters of Alaska through to the dry deserts of Australia, Aisle Master forklifts can be found working in the most challenging of conditions, with over 4,000 in New Zealand alone.

We find the Aisle Master electric forklifts the best articulated, very narrow aisle forklifts for build quality, reliability and driver satisfaction. All of their powered electric models now benefit from AC technology as standard, firmly putting them at the forefront of battery-powered technology in the articulated sector.

Contact us for all your electric forklift questions

Electric vehicles are becoming cheaper to make, cheaper to run, and thanks to advancements in technology, they’re just as powerful as diesel and LPG models.

Electric vehicles in general are still quite new, and so there are many questions to ask, especially when it comes to forklifts.

We have the best people in the industry right here to answer any questions you may have.

Whether you’re buying brand new, second-hand, or renting, we can help.

Contact us today for more information on electric forklifts, or any queries in general. Our friendly and experienced team will be happy to help.

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