2016 Year in Review – Forklift Industry Report

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forklift industry report 2016Overall Lift Truck Market

The global lift truck market grew 7.5% to 1.2 million units in 2016. The 2017 global lift truck market is expected to remain stable with a slight decline in the Americas market. North America’s market volume was up 2% over 2015.

The global lift truck market is experiencing a shift from internal combustion engine forklifts to electric forklifts, mainly in North America and Europe. Worldwide orders for electric warehouse trucks were approximately 44% of total lift truck orders in 2016, compared with 42% in 2015 and 37% ten years ago.

2016 lift truck shipmentsUS GDP

According to the third estimate from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis US GDP grew at a 2.1% annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2016. Overall real GDP grew 1.6% in 2016 from the 2015 level.

Economic growth picked up significantly in the second half of 2016 due to job growth, domestic demand, and better than expected exports, and the Trump bump!  The SP500 was up 9.5% in the year and the Dow Jones was even better at 13.4%.


Automobile and Commercial Vehicle Production

Total worldwide car and commercial vehicle production was up 4.5% in 2016 over 2015.  China’s production bumped up over 14%.  Production in the European Union grew 3%, in the US we saw 0.81% growth and Japan was down 0.79%.


Crude Steel Production

Crude steel production was up 0.8% worldwide in 2016. China had a 1.2% production increase, bringing their share of world production to 49.6%. India had a hefty 7.4% increase in production. And US steel production in 2016 dropped by 0.3%.

crude steel annual growth chartToyota Forklifts – no  info available as of 4-19-17


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.

  • Revenues were down slightly from 2015 – falling only 0.3%.  This includes the addition of $115.6 million in revenue from the Bolzoni purchase from June 2016 onward
  • As a percentage net income dropped much farther to $42.8 million from $74.7 million in 2015. Hyster attributes the strong US dollar and expenses related to Nuvera for the lower net income.
  • Total Hyster Yale lift truck shipments were down 2.4% from 2015. The Americas market saw a decline of 4.2%, mainly due to poor sales in Brazil.
  • After two years of development Hyster’s fuel cell company, Nuvera, has completed shipments of battery replacement fuel cell systems to its launch customer. Hyster expects demand to be strong enough to begin production at its plant in North Carolina.
  • Hyster has also found that improvements in product development, engineering, manufacturing and sourced components have led to higher levels of product quality, significantly reducing warranty costs and improving customer satisfaction.
  • Hyster is committed to the dealer model, believing “that having entrepreneurial, exclusive, independent dealers that are committed to customer satisfaction is a competitive advantage.”

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 for KION was up 9.6% in 2016. And net income got a healthy 11.3% bump.
  • Looking to move from being a niche provider in North America to becoming a major market player with a full portfolio offering by 2020. KION has introduced the Baoli forklift as a low-end market option in North America. Learn more here: Baoli.
  • New industrial trucks orders increased by 7.5% to 178,300 units.
  • KION expects the global market for material handling solutions will grow around 4% in 2017.


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.

  • Unit production up 12.5% to 109,200 units  in 2016
  • Revenue up 12% to 3.085 billion euros.
  • Manufactured over 100,000 forklifts for the first time.

Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers – Longbow

Ritchie Bros. is the largest industrial equipment auctioneer in the world and operates through 45 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 2% in 2016 compared to 2015 (+3% on a constant currency basis). Gross auction proceeds in 2016 exceeded $4.3 billion, which marks the highest yearly total in company history.
  • Ritchie Bros. sold 398,500 lots during the year compared to 354,500 lots in 2015, which represents 12% volume growth. However, GAP/Lot of $10,878 in 2016 fell 9% compared to 2015 due to lower average selling prices on transportation and construction equipment along with a greater mix of lower priced items sold.
  • The company noted that the overall age of equipment coming to market improved in 2016 and is generating more transactions in the marketplace. In particular, the company stated that late-model (3-5 yrs old) accounted for 29.4% of its GAP in 2016 versus 24.2% during 2015.
  • There were a total of 53,450 consignors (sellers) of equipment at Ritchie Bros.’ auctions during 2016, which was 12% higher than 2015.
  • The company had 138,400 unique buyers who purchased equipment through a Ritchie Bros. auction during 2016, which is a 12% increase compared to 2015.
  • Ritchie Bros. announced the acquisition of IronPlanet on August 29, 2016 for $758M, which is expected to close before the end of 2Q17 (subject to DoJ approval).

United Rentals – Longbow

United Rentals is the largest equipment rental company in the world and has 968 locations across North America. The company generates 50% of its total sales from industrial/non-construction markets, 46% from non-residential construction, and 4% from residential.

  • United Rentals reported that its overall rental revenue decreased 0.2% year-over-year in 2016, which includes a rental rate decrease of 2.2%.
  • The company achieved time utilization of 67.9% in 2016 compared to 67.3% in 2015 due to higher demand from non-residential construction markets and disciplined fleet capital expenditures.
  • The size of the company’s rental fleet was $8.99 billion (based on original equipment cost) at the end of 2016 compared to $8.73 billion at the end of 2015. The age of the rental fleet was 45.2 months on an OEC-weighted basis at December 31st, 2016.
  • For 2017, United Rentals expects total revenue of $5.75 to $5.95 billion compared to $5.762 billion in 2016. The company also plans to increase its gross fleet capital expenditures to $1.4 to $1.5 billion from $1.246 billion in 2016.
  • United Rentals completed the acquisition of NES Rentals on April 3, 2017 for $965M, which adds nearly $900M of total fleet (on an OEC basis) and 73 additional rental branches.

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One Response to “2016 Year in Review – Forklift Industry Report”

  1. Jessica Simons April 27, 2017 at 3:43 am #

    Great insight into the industry’s performance. Thanks for sharing this post. Over the years, the importance of education, training, skills and credentials has increased. Also, the focus on safety needs to intensify.