From 2022, the subsidy on red diesel used in forklift trucks no longer applies. This makes diesel forklifts far more expensive to operate and less competitive than electric equivalents.

Here’s a direct comparison based on a 30-hour week on the heavy duty VD160 test cycle (with a full load at full speed for 1 hour).

Assuming the average per litre price of diesel remains the same as today (i.e., £1.28) then a modern Euro Stage V compliant 2.5 tonne diesel forklift would cost £118 per week in fuel. Add rental of say £115 per week and the total weekly operating cost would be £233.

An equivalent electric doing the same shift will cost around £36 per week in energy plus rental of £135, giving a total weekly operating cost of £171 per week.

That’s a weekly difference of £62. Extend that over a 5-year term (first year with tax relief and 4 years without) and simply by switching from diesel to electric you’d save a staggering £16,120.

Apart from the inherent issues with diesel – it’s noisy, polluting, and has a very significant carbon footprint – it also cannot beat or even meet the advantages offered by the next-generation electric forklift trucks.

The majority of new electric lift trucks will do anything a diesel will do – only better.

Electric trucks offer greater torque than diesel, can accelerate quicker and offer the same lift/lower speeds. Crucially though, that power is deployed far more precisely and effectively for greater productivity.

Even the flexibility offered by diesel when it comes to refuelling has been matched by electrics with lithium-ion delivering multi-shift working with no battery changes and no maintenance.

As the end of the red diesel subsidy has arrived, our advice to truck buyers is to think about the make-up of your forklift fleet. With so many benefits and capabilities, electric models certainly look to be the future-proof option.

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