China Is Becoming Major Player in Forklift Export Market

Beware American and European forklift manufacturers, the Chinese are coming and they appear to be serious about becoming major players in the forklift export market.

Material handling reporters who attended the CeMAT discovered that there were a lot of Chinese manufacturers present who were pushing their wares. However, people who attended the show were not just impressed at the number of Chinese forklift makers, they were also impressed by the range and quality of their products.

An up and coming Chinese manufacturer who was present at CeMat was BYD, the first

BYD's ECB35 3.5 ton counterbalance forklift. (Courtesy: BYD Forklift)

BYD’s ECB35 3.5 ton counterbalance forklift.
(Courtesy: BYD Forklift)

Chinese manufacturer to win the IFOY award in the Counterbalance Truck up to 3.5 tons category with their ECB 18C, an 80 v lithium-ion stacker. According to executives from BYD who attended the show, the company plans to introduce as many as 57 materials handling solutions into the market. All the products will be distributed directly to dealers.

Another Chinese manufacturer who had a major presence at the show was LiuGong. It chose the CeMAT to introduce its new C-series forklifts. According to an executive of the company, China now accounts for 25 percent of the total forklift market. However, he added that forklifts made for domestic clients are not of the standard the markets in Europe and North America call for. He said that LiuGong’s new products are designed for the export market and is not adaptations of domestic design products.

Another participant at the show was Heli, who exhibited several new material handling

LiuGong 2015AT forklift (Courtesy: LiuGong)

LiuGong 2015AT forklift
(Courtesy: LiuGong)

solutions designed for the export market. An executive with the company explained that due to China’s changing emissions control laws this year; much of the export-oriented products will also be suited to domestic use. He sees a greater demand for electric machines.

The Heli executive also noted that his company plans to increase its presence in Europe and North America to support its expanding dealer network there. The company has a base in France that holds an inventory of parts and the company intends to open more local technical support facilities.

KION has expanded its range of material handling equipment with the acquisition of Baoli of China. In addition, Toyota is making a play for the lower end of the market with product being made by Tailift and CT Power, which Toyota acquired recently. The Toyota executive at the show said that these products would be sold to Poland and other countries where there is a demand for entry-level goods.

Maximal was another Chinese company present at CeMAT. It displayed several new products including a rough-terrain forklift that the company claims is the only one of its kind made in China.

Also present was EP, a Chinese forklift manufacturer who is focusing on the middle to lower-end market. It exhibited 20 new products intended for the European market. EP expects to make inroads into the U.S. market where it uses the Big Joe brand. EP took control of Big Joe; a U.S. company after it experienced some financial difficulties.

A Chinese company called Goodsense also promoted its goods at the show. The company modifies its domestic products for export and is working with TVH, a parts distributor, to ensure the availability of parts for its more than 100 independent dealers worldwide.

It is apparent that Chinese manufacturers of material handling equipment are not just concentrating on entry-level goods in their export plans. They are also offering more sophisticated products like AGVs and cutting edge battery technology.

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