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Material Handling Insights

Feb 25, 2019 9:21:02 AM // 6 min read

Investing In Electric Forklifts: The Ultimate Guide

By Graham Jones
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Investing in Electric Forklifts: The Ultimate Guide

Are you thinking of investing in an electric forklift truck, but unsure where to start? This guide covers all of the factors you need to consider. Read on to learn more.

Purchasing an electric forklift, or an electric forklift fleet, is a significant investment for any business, so it’s crucial to a) understand exactly what you’re paying for and b) consider the total cost of ownership.

Read on to discover how to balance acquisition and fuel costs, understand your application requirements, whether it’s better to buy used or new, and more.

Discover the key questions to ask when buying your next forklift in this guide.

Weighing up acquisition vs. running costs

Electric forklift trucks are typically more expensive to purchase upfront than their ICE counterparts due to including a battery and charger — but don’t let that put you off. 

To balance this initial investment, electric forklifts offer numerous long-term benefits:

- Electric forklifts produce lower CO2 emissions, making them perfect for businesses looking to reduce their carbon footprint

- Electric trucks are quieter than diesel-powered forklifts, helping to facilitate a safer and more productive operating environment

All of these factors result in a lower total cost of ownership in the long run.

Heineken Hungary lowered their CO2 emissions by 4.3 tonnes annually by replacing LPG trucks with TCM electric counterbalance forklifts. Read the full story.

Understanding your application requirements

When investing in an electric forklift truck, it’s vital to ensure the specification is suitable for its application and your operation.

Two key features that you will need to carefully consider include:

1. Forklift operating capacity

When purchasing an electric forklift, it’s important to know the typical dimensions and weights it will be required to handle to ensure a safe and efficient operation.

The most common weights are 1,000kg - 1,250kg, which can cost from £16,000 to £19,000 if buying a brand new model. As a general rule, the higher the capacity, the more expensive the truck. For this reason, knowing your numbers ahead of time will ensure the model you choose is good value for money.

It’s also important to consider whether your capacity requirements are likely to change in the near future and accommodate for this to ensure your forklift won’t need replacing in six months’ time. Although this may seem like an additional expense, it will save you money in the long run.

Height requirements must also be factored in. The height will have an impact on the size and capacity of your truck, as all trucks over 4200mm will start to derate significantly. Although it’s true that high-reaching forklifts (6,000mm) are more expensive, this requirement is unlikely to change and therefore you can feel confident you’ll get the use.

2. Tyre type

At TCM, we understand that forklift tyres can make up around 12%-15% of the total cost of owning a truck throughout its life cycle, so it’s crucial to ensure your tyres are fit for purpose to guarantee longevity.

We use a variety of tyres for our forklifts, including Xtreme and Magnum tyres. These tyres are extremely resilient and ideal for long runs and medium to high intensity applications.

Softer tyres are best for high maneuverability, while harder tyres are more suitable for high-intensity applications that require more resilience.

Your working environment will play a large part in identifying which tyres are best for your forklift fleet. An indoor environment requires something clean, which typically means a silicone based compound. For outdoor usage, solid rubber tyres are more suitable and used for our counterbalance truck range.

By purchasing an electric forklift directly from one of our local dealers, you can feel confident that your tyres are 100% safe and compliant with current regulations.

Should I buy new or used?

Another key factor in the decision-making process is whether to buy new or used.

The reduced price of a used electric forklift truck is undoubtedly appealing, especially for smaller businesses. However, it’s important to remember that purchasing an older model is also more likely to result in higher maintenance costs. This will need to be factored into your total cost of ownership prediction.

Generally speaking, purchasing a used forklift truck also means having less choice when it comes to capacity, height, and other key truck features. For this reason, it’s worth exploring both the new and used market and ultimately opt for a truck that matches your required specifications most closely.

TCM electric counterbalance forklifts

FB Series: Electric 3-4 Wheel Counterbalance


  • - 48v

  • - 2.0 capacity

What’s it good for?

Class-leading energy efficiency.

Need to know:

  • - Built to maximise safety

  • - Safety finalist in the Fork Lift Truck Association (FTLA) awards

  • - World-class ergonomics — including fingertip controls and generous headroom

  • - Easy to service using the integrated diagnostics system to maximise uptime

  • - Optional roller battery makes it quick and safe to change the battery

Key features:

  • - Fully-optimised visibility

  • - Class-leading energy efficiency

  • - Responsive and rapid lift speeds

FHB Series: Electric 4 Wheel Counterbalance


  • - 80v

  • - 3.0t capacity

What’s it good for?

Higher power. Ultimate reliability.

Need to know:

  • - Highly efficient and stable

  • - Perfect for heavy-duty handling

  • - Ideal for challenging long-distance applications

  • - Easy to service using the integrated diagnostics system to maximise uptime

  • - Class-leading top speed

Key features:

  • - Steering wheel synchronisation

  • - Pin code access

  • - Safety-enhancing load sensor

Choosing a material handling solutions provider

The final step is choosing the right material handling solutions provider, which will be crucial to your business’ long-term growth. Your material handling provider should ultimately be able to identify any problems you have, identify the appropriate solution, and help you be successful.

At TCM, we view truck sales as a long-term strategic partnership. As a result, we take a consultative approach to understand your operations, processes, and workforce, and bring in factors including servicing and maintenance when assessing the total cost of ownership.

When we look at the material handling industry holistically, the biggest cost by far is the operator, so we help you to identify areas where a more efficient truck would enhance productivity and reduce costs.

TCM dealer Amvar Handling Solutions helped Kettler UK, a garden furniture wholesaler, introduce an electric counterbalance forklift into their operation under a lease arrangement, enabling them to streamline their fleet and reduce costs and complexity.

Similarly, BJB Lift Trucks helped Burgess Pet Care to save 13% in operating costs and dramatically increase their efficiency by introducing electric 1.5t and 2t trucks into their operation.

‘I have a flexible, newer fleet that is optimised for our operation and which delivers both functional benefits and operating costs savings.’ — Mark Smith, Burgess Pet Care

Are you looking for a material handling solutions provider that does more than just sell trucks?

Click the button below to learn the key questions to ask when buying your next forklift.