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Uplifting Chinese Forklifts Coming To UK

September 21, 2015 7:23 am Published by Comments Off on Uplifting Chinese Forklifts Coming To UK

Forklift Manufacturer – Staying With European Tastes Or Do you Fancy A Chinese?

Peter MacLeod of SHD Logistics reports on the move of Chinese Forklift Manufacturer BYD to dominate the UK forklift market – and they have the backing to do it.

I have just returned from a tour of the manufacturing facilities of BYD, the Chinese maker of electric vehicles. It may not be a brand that UK forklift buyers are familiar with, but I am certain it is one that will have come onto the radar of its established rivals.

At the heart of BYD’s offering is its Iron Phosphate battery technology, a clean and highly efficient powertrain that allows opportunistic charging of a battery that is designed to last for the life of the vehicle. The running costs versus those of a more conventional electric truck are compelling – up to €2,000 per truck per shift per year.

In an industry where genuine innovation is hard to come by, incremental improvement is normally modest; when BYD arrives on the UK scene later this year it will be offering a whacking step forward. Whilst its far too early to predict the demise of lead-acid battery-powered forklifts, this new technology will certainly catch the attention of those peddling traditional technology.

I have written in the past about the threat from China, but so far it has been largely rebuffed thanks to a perceived ‘me too’ approach to manufacturing, offering solid, cost-effective trucks but no significant innovation. Suddenly a Warren Buffet-funded player is coming to Europe with a genuine technological advantage. It’s time to sit up and take it seriously.

BYD Press Conference

At an exclusive press event held in Shenzhen last week, Chinese fork lift truck manufacturer BYD confirmed its intentions to market its range of Iron-Phosphate powered electric trucks in the UK by the end of this year.

 

The innovative, vertically integrated manufacturer – part of the €9bn turnover BYD Auto Group, 10% of which is owned by legendary US investor Warren Buffet – already has forklift sales operations in Germany and Benelux, serviced by a European HQ in Rotterdam. At Logimat this year, it spelled out its intentions to broaden its offering to more European countries, choosing France and the UK as its next territories.

 

A worldwide player in the manufacture of Iron Phosphate batteries, BYD has grown to become one of China’s leading electric vehicle manufacturers. Its best-selling electric buses and taxis are already in action across Europe – for example, London has two e-buses on trial and the capital also boasts a fleet of 50 electric taxis – and its ambition to penetrate the European forklift market was revealed last week as it demonstrated its manufacturing capabilities to the cream of Europe’s logistics editors.

 

Visits to its automotive manufacturing plants, where its 75kW E6 model and its Denza electric car (the latter in a JV with Daimler-Benz) are produced, were followed by a visit to its R&D facilities and its new 1m sq m flt manufacturing plant at Shaoguan, where series production of its European-spec machines was just getting underway. The facility will have an ultimate capacity of 50,000 trucks per annum. The trip was rounded off by a look at its hi-tech automated battery production facility in Huizhou, where the real magic behind the BYD forklift offering lies.

 

The Iron Phosphate battery technology allows opportunistic, rapid and efficient charging using a BYD charger supplied with every machine. BYD guarantees its batteries for eight years or 10,000 hours, and therefore does away with the need to supply a second battery during the forklift’s first full contract.

 

Using a calculation that survived the scrutiny of Europe’s leading trade journalists, BYD produced a convincing argument that demonstrated an operational saving of €1,600 – €2,000 per annum per forklift per shift, versus a ‘conventional’ lead acid battery-powered forklift, a fact that will certainly catch the attention of the cost-aware UK forklift buyers.

 

Javier Contijoch, Forklift Director Europe for BYD, told SHD Logistics that he is currently on the lookout for UK dealers, and will be hoping to achieve national coverage by the time the brand launches in the UK in Q4/2015. “We will be in the UK looking for dealers who share the same ambition as we do,” said Contijoch. “We are serious about the UK market, and are rolling out across European territories starting out with the largest markets, at a rate that enables us to ensure full service to our customers.”

 

To that end, BYD is establishing a parts distribution centre in The Netherlands and plans to keep its most popular models in stock in Europe, offering immediate delivery. With three main models on offer – 2.5t and 3.5t four-wheel counterbalanced trucks, and a compact 1.6t three-wheeler that’s likely to be its best-seller in the UK – BYD currently offers 57 variants of truck. It is currently testing a a powered pallet truck, a ride-on pallet truck and a tugger before announcing their addition to the existing range. It has also said it is developing an Iron Phosphate-powered 8t ‘big’ truck.

 

UK Mezzanine Flooring Company, QA has researched other companies / brands owned by Warren Buffett:

 

1. Heinz (Food Production)
2. Fruit of the Loom (Clothing Manufacturer)
3. Benjamin Moore (Paint Manufacturer)
4. GEICO (Insurance Company)
5. Borshiems (Luxury Jewellery & Gifts)
6. NetJets (Private Jet Company)
7. The Pampered Chef (Kitchen Accessories)

 

 

If you are cost-conscious in regards to your warehouse operation then a BYD forklift may be of interest. At QA we offer storage solutions, space planning and of course we are one of the largest mezzanine floor companies in the UK.
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