Forklift Industry – 2014 Q1 Review

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Forklift Market Overall

Service - shop photoHere are some highlights from the major three publicly traded forklift manufacturers.  Other major manufacturers like MCFA, Clark, and Raymond do not publish financial results nor do they make comments about their operations and performance.  And Toyota, while publicly traded, only makes limited comments about their forklift business.


  • Revenues up 4.8% over the same period of 2013. HY attributes the increase to the sale of higher priced lift trucks in all market segments, price increases, and more fleet services and parts sales in the Americas.
  • Worldwide unit shipments decreased over the same period of last year. Unit shipment increases in Americas and Asia-Pacific and unit shipment decrease in Europe.
  • New lift truck backlog as of March 31, 2014 is 28,900 units compared to 27,500 units at March 31, 2013.
  • HY expects global lift truck market to grow moderately through the remainder of 2014. Much of HY’s growth will come from the Americas.


  • Unit production was up 33% over the same period last year.  Incoming orders grew by 5%.
  • Jungheinrich reports that the global material handling equipment market grew by 10% in the first quarter.
  • Jungheinrich data shows that the US maintained its upward economic trend and that they did not identify any factors that could curtail US economic growth.
  • The North American forklift market expanded 14% from 52.6 thousand forklifts from 46.1 thousand forklifts last year.

KION Group

  • Total revenue was 1,088.9 million euros, an increase of 0.3% over the same period of 2013.  Revenue from new truck business was 577.7 million euros, a decrease of 5.5% from the first quarter of 2013.
  • Orders were up 3.1% versus the first quarter of 2013.
  • KION Group has announced intentions to significantly expand its presence in the US market with a specific product and service offering. Read an article about it here.

Economic Data

The forklift industry is highly cyclical and is sensitive to movements in the US economy, capital investment, and manufacturing.  Looking at data points in these areas helps us to understand what has happened in the forklift industry and where it’s going.


Real gross domestic product increased by an annual rate of 0.1% in the first quarter of 2014.  This compares with an increase of 2.6% in the fourth quarter of 2013. Source Bureau of Economic Analysis.  The IMF expects US GDP to grow 2.8% overall in 2014 and global GDP to grow 3.7% in 2014.

US GDP Index

US Industrial Output

Industrial output in the US grew by 1.08% in the first quarter of 2014 over the fourth quarter of 2013.   This is an annual rate of about 4.4% which is just a little slower than the annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2013.  The major market group that saw the biggest advance in US industrial output was mining with a 1.5% increase in the first quarter. Source: US Federal Reserve

Us industrial output

Other News

At the 2014 ELFA Equipment Management Conference in Phoenix, an attendee asked about the use and popularity of fuel-cell technology in forklifts during the material handling breakout session. In February 2014, Plug Power, the leading fuel cell technology provider for forklifts, announced a large order from Walmart for 1,738 hydrogen fuel cell lift trucks for use in six distribution centers. This is a significant commitment and a positive sign for the adoption of hydrogen fuel-cell forklifts. Read Plug Power’s Press Release.

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