2015 Year in Review – Forklift Industry Report

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Image courtesy of khunaspix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You can read the full report with all of our special interest stories included here: 2015 Annual Forklift Industry Report

Overall Lift Truck Market

In 2015 the global lift truck market grew less than 1% to just under 1.1 million units.

Growth in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa markets was 6%, with the majority of the growth coming from a 12% jump in Western Europe.

Growth in the Americas reached 4% during 2015, with 8% coming from North America and Latin America, with the offset coming from a 44% decline in Brazil.

The Japan, Asia-Pacific, India and China region dropped 7% versus 2014 mainly because of a 12% decline in demand from China.

Over the last 10 years the growth of the industrial truck market has surpassed global economic growth, growing an average of 3.9% from 2005 through 2015.

39.7% of global forklift sales were diesel trucks, electric trucks made up 17.5% and warehouse trucks accounted for 42.8% of the total lift truck market.



The backdrop to the story of business in 2015 was the price of oil and China’s slowing economy.  Ripple effects from both slowed business in a few major sectors and had a dampening impact on exports.

US GDP advanced at an annual rate of 1.4% in the fourth quarter of 2015 bringing the total growth for 2015 as of this writing to 2.4% over 2014.



Automobile and Commercial Vehicle Production

Worldwide car and commercial vehicle production rose by 1% over 2014.  This compares to a 2.5% gain during 2014 and a 4.0% gain in 2013.  While the US and China grew by 3.8% and 3.3%, Japan production declined by 5.1% and Brazil’s (the world’s 9th largest auto producer in 2015) auto production fell by a whopping 22.8%.

Cars and commercial vehicles production

Crude Steel Production

Worldwide crude steel production experienced a 3% drop in 2015 versus 2014. Over the major producing countries and regions (e.g. European Union) the US had the largest decline in 2015 with 10.5%.  Japan’s crude steel production dropped nearly 5% and China’s steel production was off by 2.29%. Of the 7 producing areas in the chart below, India had the only increase of 3.53%

Crude steel including china

Crude steel excluding china

Toyota Forklifts – limited info released in late April


Hyster-Yale is the world’s 4th largest lift truck manufacturer by revenue and manufacturers the Hyster and Yale brands which are distributed throughout the world.

  • 2015 revenues dropped 6.8% from 2014. $2,578.1 million in 2015 versus $2,767.2 million in 2014.
  • Net income fell by nearly 32%.
  • In February 2016 Hyster-Yale purchased Bolzoni, a producer of lift truck attachments, forks, and lift tables.
  • Hyster-Yale is strengthening its independent dealers by increasing the number of dual brand (Hyster and Yale) dealers.
  • Hyster-Yale has been converting strong competitor dealers. Gregory Poole is an example.
  • Hyster-Yale is also focused on improving its National Accounts program. These are direct sales from HY to larger customers.
  • Current unit volume goal is to achieve annual sales of 115,000 lift truck units over the next three to four years.

KION Group (Linde and Baoli in US)

KION Group is the world’s second largest manufacturer of lift trucks.  KION is based in Germany with it’s largest market presence is in Europe and has a strong Linde dealer group in the US and Canada.

  • Revenue grew 9% in 2015 from 4,677.9 million euros in 2014 to 5,097.9 million euros in 2015. Net income rose 221.1 million euros in 2015 from 178.2 million euros in 2014, a 24% increase.
  • Global order intake was up 7% to 165,823 trucks. Increased global market share from 14.2% in 2014 to 15.0% in 2015.
  • Acquired Egminen Automation in August 2015 and in February 2015 the Linde business unit acquired a 10% stake in Balyo, a European robotics specialist.  Both acquisitions are a move to strengthen KION’s automation capabilities and offerings.
  • Revenue in the Americas up 7.2%.


Jungheinrich is the world’s third largest forklift manufacturer based  on revenue.  Jungheinrich is based in Germany and much of the company’s sales come from the European market. Jungheinrich machines are distributed in the US by Cat lift truck dealers and are jointly manufactured by Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklifts of America in Houston.

  • Total order intake rose by 13.4% or 11,500 units.
  • Net sales rose by 10% to 2,498 million euros.
  • Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklifts has been introducing more new Jungheinrich models for sale in the US through its US dealer network.

Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers – provided by Neil Frohnapple at Longbow Research

Ritchie Bros. is the largest industrial equipment auctioneer in the world and operates through 44 permanent and regional auction sites worldwide. The company holds 4-5 auctions per year on average at each of its permanent auction sites and its core auction sales are all unreserved, which mean that each item sells for the highest bid with no minimum price reserves.

  • The company’s gross auction proceeds (GAP) increased 1% in 2015 compared to 2014 (+8% on a constant currency basis). Gross auction proceeds in 2015 were nearly $4.25 billion, which marks the highest yearly total in company history.
  • Ritchie Bros. sold 354,500 lots during the year compared to 319,500 lots in 2014, which represents 11% volume growth. However, GAP/Lot of $11,980 in 2015 fell 9% compared to 2014 due to lower average selling prices and a greater mix of lower priced items sold.
  • The company noted that the overall age of equipment coming to market improved in 2015 and is generating more transactions in the marketplace. In particular, the company stated that late-model (3-5 yrs old) accounted for 24.2% of its GAP in 2015 versus 18.5% during 2014.
  • There were a total of 47,600 consignors (sellers) of equipment at Ritchie Bros.’ auctions during 2015, which was 5% higher than 2014.
  • The company had 123,700 unique buyers who purchased equipment through a Ritchie Bros. auction during 2015, which is a 10% increase compared to 2014.

United Rentals – provided by Neil Frohnapple at Longbow Research

United Rentals is the largest equipment rental company in the world and has 894 locations across North America. The company generates 55% of its total sales from industrial/non-construction markets, 41% from non-residential construction, and 4% from residential.

  • United Rentals reported that its overall rental revenue increased 2.7% year-over-year in 2015, which includes a rental rate increase of 0.5%.
  • The company achieved time utilization of 67.3% in 2015 compared to 68.8% in 2014 as lower demand from oil & gas markets weighed on overall fleet utilization.
  • The size of the company’s rental fleet was $8.73 billion (based on original equipment cost) at the end of 2015 compared to $8.44 billion at the end of 2014. The age of the rental fleet was 43.1 months on an OEC-weighted basis at December 31st, 2015.
  • For 2016, United Rentals expects total revenue of $5.65 to $5.95 billion compared to $5.817 billion in 2015. Additionally, the company expects time utilization of approximately 68% for the full year; however, it expects rental rates to decline by 1-2% for the year. Finally, United Rentals plans to reduce its gross fleet capital expenditures to $1.2 billion from $1.534 billion in 2015.

Other Industry News

  • Mitsubishi Heavy Industries purchased Unicarriers. Unicarriers was previously a combination of Nissan and TCM forklifts.
  • Gregory Poole, one of the larger forklift dealerships in Eastern US switched from selling the Cat, Mitsubishi, Jungheinrich brands to a Hyster-Yale dealer.

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