How Forklift Brands Differ

Forklifts play an essential role in warehouse operations management. From lift trucks and pallet jacks to order pickers and reach trucks, this heavy machinery empowers warehouse teams to receive, stock, pick, pack, and ship raw materials or finished goods with efficiency.

Because these machines are built for special purposes, a warehouse fleet must include a range of different vehicles. While you could feasibly source your forklift fleet from a single brand, most competitive warehouse depots will select the best machines from one of several top brands.

That said, is there significant variance between forklift brands? Let’s explore.

Top Forklift Brands

The warehouse forklift space is heavily competitive. Even the top brand, Toyota, can barely claim a 30% market share in either the new or resale category.

But how do the major brands stack up against one another?

According to Equipment Watch, the top warehouse forklift brands (based on resale activity over the past three years) include:

  1. Toyota
  2. Hyster
  3. Yale
  4. Caterpillar
  5. Doosan
  6. Komatsu
  7. Hyundai
  8. Mitsubishi
  9. Clark
  10. Nissan

Those top four brands account for nearly two-thirds of the resale forklift market.

Forklift features to consider

On a general level, there’s not all that much to differentiate one forklift brand from another. For that, you need to delve further into the nitty-gritty of comparing a specific type and model of forklift to another.

For example, if you were comparing two forklifts, you may need to consider the following factors:

  • Type of warehouse equipment – There are dozens of different types of specialty vehicles, including:
    • Order pickers
    • Reach trucks
    • Triple mast forklifts
    • Cushion tire forklifts
    • Turret trucks
    • Pallet jacks
    • Lift trucks
  • Load capacity – The maximum weight the vehicle can lift, carry, and transport. Most vehicles will range from 4,000 lbs to 12,000 lbs.
  • Lift height capacity – The highest point a forklift can lift its load capacity to reach. Generally speaking, from a physics standpoint, the higher the lift height, the lower the lift capacity.
  • Vehicle age – If you buy used, some forklift brands retain their operational capacity for decades.
  • Terrain and conditions – Some brands focus on outdoor, rough terrain models; whereas others design vehicles for specific locations, conditions, or uses. What brand you select depends on where and how you’ll operate the forklift.
  • Engine type – Most brands will sell one or two types of forklifts—EVs or fuel-burning vehicles. Combustion engine forklifts run on diesel or gasoline, while EVs run on lead-acid batteries. The current forklift truck market is split roughly 60-40 between electric and diesel vehicles, but this gap will likely widen in the future with the global push toward renewables.
  • Training – Certain brands and types of forklifts will require proper safety training. Most new drivers will be legally obligated to complete machine-specific training prior to operating the equipment.
  • Price – Naturally the elements discussed above all impact pricing, but so too does branding. For example, you can expect to pay a brand premium for a Toyota or a CAT.

In addition to these factors, if you want to find the best forklift brand for your business, you should take the following steps:

  1. Look up the user/owner reviews, to see what others had to say about the brand
  2. See if the specific model was given an award or industry recognition
  3. Review the brand's history of customer service, training, and maintenance

Value Forklifts—Buy, Sell, or Trade a Top Brand

When shopping for a forklift, the brand doesn’t matter as much as the forklift's specs, condition, and price. And, if you’re buying used, your main consideration should be the care that’s gone into the reconditioning and servicing of the machine. 

At Value Forklifts, we have an array of high-quality, low-cost forklifts from the world’s top brands. Whether you want a Toytoa, Hyster, Taylor, Mitsubishi, or Yale, any of the top brands can handle the job.

Want to learn more about our forklifts? Contact us to learn more.

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