China Quickly Becoming World’s Leading Forklift Market

File:Chinese flag (Beijing) - IMG 1104.jpg

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons (in the public domain)

Last month, China overtook the US as the having the world’s largest economy. Now a new report says the Chinese may also be the world’s biggest users of forklifts and other heavy equipment.

According to “Global and China Industry Report, 2014-2016”, which was compiled and distributed by the industry trade group Reportbuyer, China is the world’s largest forklift consumer market. Chinese companies bought more then 329,000 forklifts in 2013, a 13.9% increase over the previous year.

Substantial Growth in Forklift Use

Chinese forklift purchases accounted for 33.2% of all forklift sales in the world that year. And China also is exporting its forklifts at a record rate. More than 113,000 Chinese forklifts were sold outside its borders in 2013, an increase of 15.3% from 2012.

According to the report, this steady growth is expected to continue and by the end of this year, internal Chinese forklift sales will exceed 400,000 vehicles and exports will top 150,000.

China’s Economy World’s Largest

But forklifts aren’t the only product that China is producing more than the US. According to the International Monetary Fund, the Chinese economy is now worth $17.6 trillion, outpacing the US, which has an economy worth $17.4 trillion, for the first time ever.

The US has boasted the world’s largest economy since 1872, when it surpassed the UK for the top spot.

US and Swedish Companies Team Up

Meanwhile, the US forklift manufacturer Hyster has teamed with Trelleborg, a Swedish industrial engineering firm specializing polymers, to produce forklift tires for the Chinese market.

Trelleborg will sell its M2 tires to Hyster’s Shanghai subsidiary, Shanghai Hyster Forklift Ltd., both companies announced in a news release.

Richard Wang, Trelleborg’s national sales manager in China, said the partnership will benefit both companies.

“We are proud to be chosen as an (Original Equipment Manufacturer) partner for Shanghai Hyster Forklift Ltd.,” Wang said. “We look forward to working together to ensure that customers receive maximum value from their choice of Hyster forklift trucks.”

“Hyster Company manufactures high quality forklifts that are designed for use in tough environments,” Wang continued. “Trelleborg’s premium M2 tire has been designed to match this performance. We have built a solid relationship and partnership with Hyster in Europe and North America and look forward to doing the same in China.”

While China may have more forklifts than the US, it has been less receptive to electrically-powered lift trucks, which produce fewer emissions than the gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles used more commonly in Asia.

China Lagging in Electric Forklifts

Electric forklifts account for about 60% of all forklifts used in the US, but less than 30% of the vehicles used in China. In Europe where more stringent emissions regulations have recently gone into effect, electric forklifts account for about 80% of all vehicles.

Globally, the forklift industry is rebounding from the global economic crisis that began in 2008. In 2013, orders for new forklifts exceeded 1 million worldwide for the first time ever, according to the report.

“Moreover, the sales volume surpassed the highest level before the financial crisis,” the report stated. “This was mainly attributable to the factors including further development of logistics industry and growth in demand for machinery substituting for manual work.”


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