2019 Annual Forklift Industry Report

General Overview

Worldwide economic growth in 2019 slowed to 2.9% from 3.6% in 2018. Economic uncertainties such as trade disputes among the United States, China, and the European Union,  Brexit, and economic cycles in China and India led to increased unwillingness to invest from the world's companies.

According to KION Group, the world's second largest lift truck manufacturer, the international market for industrial trucks shrank by 2.1% in 2019 compared to 2018.

The Americas region (North, Central, and South America) had a 6.7% year on year decline in industrial truck orders.  Most of that contraction came from North America.

KION Group also estimates that the material handling market which is made up of industrial trucks, and supply chain solutions and related services, has grown faster than the global economy over the last five years, growing at an annual rate of 6%. Industrial truck unit sales, which make up 60% of the material handling market, have grown 4% annually for the last five years.

In addition, research from the Ecommerce Foundation shows ecommerce has grown on average 14% between 2014 and 2019. The expansion of ecommerce is putting pressure on creating shorter lead times for product delivery, a wider product selection, and more efficient flow of goods.  In response, decentralized warehousing is growing along with the use of automated guided vehicles and autonomous mobile robots.

Jungheinrich, the world's third largest forklift manufacturer, reported global material handling equipment orders declined by 2%, or 31,000 thousand forklift trucks. This was the first decline in orders since 2012.  There was an 8% decline in market volume in North America.

Notes From Annual Reports

KION Group - the world's second largest industrial truck supplier by unit volume

  • Total revenue of 8,806.5 million euros exceeded 2018 revenue by 810.8 million euros.
  • Net income rose 10.7% to 444.8 million euros.
  • KION Group is focusing on lithium-ion technology as a replacement to lead acid batteries for their electrically powered forklifts.

Hyster-Yale Group (HYG)

  • 14 Hyster dealers and 30 Yale dealers in the Americas.
  • 21% of new truck sales came from the company's direct sales program to major customers.
  • At the end of 2018 HYG had an order backlog of 43,900 units.  At the end of 2019 HYG had a backlog of 41,200 units.
  • Revenues increased 3.5% to $3,291.8 million in 2019.
  • Net income was also up, climbing 3.1% to $36.6 million.
  • The Americas segment accounted for $135.8 million of the revenue increase even though overall unit shipments in this segment declined by 1800.
  • The revenue increase was due to price increases meant to offset material cost increases and tariffs, and higher sales of attachments and parts.


  • Revenue up 7.3% to 4,073 billion euros.
  • Incoming orders declined 6.9% to 121,900 units.
  • Jungheinrich sees the future of battery technology being dominated by lithium-ion batteries. Jungheinrich states lithium-ion batteries are generally two-thirds smaller and last three times longer.

Ritchie Bros.

  • Total revenue increased in 2019 by 12.7% to $1,318,641,000. Net income was up 22.8% in 2019.
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