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FLT Myth Buster #3: Electric FLTs are more cost-effective than other models

Forklift truck, fueled by Calor LPG, in use.
Andy Kellett, FLT Specialist at Calor, discusses the myth: Electric FLTs are more cost-effective than other models.

Many believe that electric is the most cost-effective fuel for an FLT fleet. For example, electric models have the option of recharging a battery overnight on a low rate tariff, and because there are fewer moving parts than with engine-powered alternatives, maintenance costs are lower too. However, there are many hidden outlays that operators do not account for, resulting in higher than expected costs.

For starters, electric FLTs have a much higher initial purchase price, because of the battery and charger required, so immediately there is a greater capital cost when choosing electric. Then, electric-powered FLTs are unavailable to use while the battery is being recharged, which fleet managers can overcome by purchasing additional batteries, but this adds even further costs. Space must also be found for the battery charging station, which can add increased build costs too.

As electric FLTs cannot be used while they are recharging, this can impact on productivity levels and potential profits.

Furthermore, electric FLTs struggle in colder or wetter climates when used outside, as the damp atmosphere can cause issues with wiring circuitry and electrical components. They also find steeper gradients more difficult, which can drain the battery rapidly. All of this amounts to increased downtime and reduced productivity.

In contrast, LPG FLTs are affordable to buy, downtime is reduced because there is no need to recharge a battery as with electric models, and they only take a few minutes to refuel. Steeper gradients are also not a problem, and the performance characteristics – such as travel speeds, rate of acceleration and lift speeds – of LPG-fuelled trucks are usually superior to electric models, due to a better power-to-weight ratio and more responsive engines. These improved efficiencies lead to greater productivity, demonstrating how LPG can be a more cost-effective solution than electric for FLTs overall.

To find out more about LPG fuelled FLTs, head over to our FLT page.