How can an electric forklift with a higher price tag be cheaper than a diesel forklift in the long run? The answer is quite simple: the acquisition cost is only a small part of the total combined expenses associated with industrial equipment. It’s easy to turn some factors into numbers, while others are harder to measure, but still contribute to making electric forklifts an investment with a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) compared to forklifts with an internal combustion engine.
Reduced energy costs
Let’s start with the figures we can easily compare, like purchase price, energy consumption, servicing and capital costs. Firstly, electric forklifts cost more than diesel forklifts. This is due to a large and heavy battery that is expensive to manufacture. However, if you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, batteries last around 4,000 charge cycles, or 5-6 years of normal operation, before you need to replace them. You could argue that batteries should be considered an operational expense, as they provide an energy source to power the forklift. When you compare energy costs, the electric forklift comes out ahead of diesel, even when you include the battery.
One way to further reduce the cost of powering an electric forklift is to produce your own electricity with solar panels and windmills. Not only is this a sustainable and green alternative, but under the right conditions, it can further lower the TCO of your electric forklifts.
Less need of servicing
When you purchase a forklift, the upfront investment is only one part of the equation. Your industrial equipment also needs maintenance to preserve its full functionality and prolong its lifetime. An electric forklift has a less complex driveline compared to its diesel equivalent, which requires regular attention to its engine, transmission, oil and filters. The loss of productivity in the downtime needed for maintenance adds to the total cost of ownership. Studies show that there is 20-30% less maintenance required on an electric forklift, and its simpler design speeds up the process. Overall, the cost of maintaining an electric forklift is less than half of a forklift with a combustion engines.
Sustainability is good business
In addition to easily measured expenses like the initial price, energy consumption and servicing, there are more intangible costs that you need to consider. What does it mean to your customers and investors for your business to have a green profile? Since electric forklifts can be charged with green energy and have zero exhaust pipe emissions on-site, they are thought to be a more sustainable option. Many companies work hard to build their environmental credentials, in order to attract customers and investor interest, and electric forklifts can play an important role in this. Eventually, they also produce higher earnings, which is an additional reason to pay a little extra in the beginning. At the end of the day, a high quality electric forklift is most likely a sound, long-term investment.
See how we calculate TCO
Would you like to learn more about how your company can lower the total cost of ownership by going electric? We invite you to read the white paper from Konecranes Lift Trucks, in which we make a more in-depth analysis to help you compare the different alternatives.
Be part of the electric future
Would you like to learn more about how your company can improve its work environment with Konecranes Lift Trucks? We invite you to read more here and learn how to power your business with electric forklifts.