The global forklift truck market experienced significant fluctuations due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a notable drop in activitythis was followed by a robust recovery in 2021, when the market grew by around 46% year-on-year. The trend towards forklift rental versus purchase continued to dominate, with over 60% of equipment delivered each year destined for operational rental. Demand remains heavily concentrated on large customers who prefer the reliability and national coverage of major forklift manufacturers and rental companies.

Four global forklift manufacturers hold almost 80% of the market share in France. In terms of product innovation, there has been a clear shift towards electric forklifts, driven by new regulations and concerns about sustainable development, which have supplanted gasoline-powered models in terms of new sales. Despite this, the performance of the electric segment remains below that of gasoline-powered forklifts, stimulating R&D efforts aimed at improvement.

The logistics sector remains a major driver of forklift demand, due to the growth of e-commerce and parcel distribution logistics, particularly after 2020. The size of the market for new forklifts in France has reached around 90,000 units sold in 2021, worth around 1.13 billion euros, recovering from the fall caused by the pandemic. France maintains a positive trade balance for self-propelled forklifts with lifting devices, with a significant share of trade in Europe and with China.

Market trends and outlook

The forklift market in France shows significant correlations with the general economic landscape, in particular due to itsdependence on industries such as logistics, construction, events and sectors such as automotive and aeronautics. Over the past few decades, this market has undergone considerable change, particularly when manufacturers turned to long-term rental models in response to weak sales in the 1990s. Today, operational leasing outstrips purchase models, and it is estimated that more than half the equipment in circulation each year is subject to this type of leasing arrangement. The French forklift fleet, which has an average lifespan of around ten years, is expected to number between 600,000 and 800,000 units. After a sharp decline in the early 2020s, probably under the influence of the COVID-19 crisis, the market rebounded spectacularly in 2021, with growth of around 45%, for sales close to 85,000 to 95,000 units.

The sector is dominated by a number of global conglomerates, including the German groups Kion and Jungheinrich, the Japanese giants Toyota and Logisnext, and the American company Hyster-Yale.

A closer look at the market reveals that there are three categories of forklift: thermal front-end trucks, electric front-end trucks and all-electric warehouse trucks. Electric variants are gaining in appeal, particularly in logistics settings.

The French market is gradually switching from gas-powered to electric forklift models. Electric forklifts used to account for over half the national fleet, a trend mirrored in international markets such as Germany. This change is attributed to changing regulations in France, which encourage the adoption of electric machines. Demand for forklift trucks largely reflects the health of certain industries. For example, a significant proportion of demand comes from large industrial entities that prefer rental to purchase, accounting for around four-fifths of material handling equipment use.

The rental option is attractive because of its financial flexibility, ease of compliance with European lifting requirements, and rapid availability of equipment to meet specific customer needs. In addition, rental pricing strategies have become essential in the competitive landscape, as market players seek to escape the price war by embarking on value-added services. The emphasis is on fleet management, technical service and customized rental conditions to cope with fluctuating operational demands. The rental segment also appears to be generating higher margins, with short-term rentals posting margins of between 35% and 20%.

Forklift market leaders: an overview of the main players

  • The German Kion Group is one of the undisputed titans of the forklift truck market. Under its umbrella are leading brands such as Linde, Still and Fenwick, each a heavyweight in the manufacture and distribution of forklift trucks. Kion's extensive reach and strong portfolio have positioned it as a dominant force, particularly in France, where it holds around 35% of market share. Kion's strategic direction has been to focus on long-term rental solutions, in order to attract companies looking to alleviate the capital burden associated with equipment purchases.
  • Jungheinrich is another German forklift giant, specializing in the production of various types of forklift trucks. Its reputation for quality and technological progress has made it a preferred choice for many companies. In France, it occupies an important market segment alongside Toyota Industries, making it a key player in maintaining Germany's dominance in this industrial area.
  • Toyota Industries: The Japanese Toyota Industries group continues to be a central player in the global forklift market, with an extensive footprint in the industrial landscape. Known for its reliable and efficient electric forklifts, it has a manufacturing plant in Ancenis, France, which meets strong European demand. at a time when environmental regulations are encouraging the use of cleaner energies, Toyota's electric forklifts fit perfectly into forward-looking industrial strategies.
  • Mitsubishi Logisnext: Another Japanese group, Logisnext, is present on the market thanks to well-known brands such as Mitsubishi and Caterpillar Lift Truck. Its involvement in the design, manufacture and distribution of forklift trucks testifies to its commitment to meeting the diverse needs of its customers in a variety of sectors, from industry to logistics and beyond.
  • Hyster-Yale The American Hyster-Yale group is renowned for its long history and wide range of forklift trucks for different sectors. Its focus on innovative materials handling solutions and customer-centric approach have enabled it to maintain a strong presence amid fierce competition from European and Asian manufacturers.
  • Aprolis The leading distributor and rental company in France, Aprolis represents the Caterpillar and Crown brands, among others. Its market positioning is unique in that it not only distributes, but also rents and provides maintenance services for forklift trucks.
  • Manuloc, whose activities are similar to those of Aprolis.
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Summary and extracts

1 Market overview

1.1 Presentation and definition of the forklift market

Forklifts are self-propelled machines designed for lifting and transferring loads in factories and warehouses. This market is actually one of the segments of the handling equipment market, mainly used in intralogistics, industry or construction. The handling equipment refers to all machines and logistical tools used for the transport or support of loads requiring physical effort. The market for the rental of handling equipment covers all the following services rental of forklifts, hand trucks, pallet trucks, etc.

This market is particularly dependent on the economic situation, especially in view of its main outlets. In fact, activity in this market is clearly correlated to the level of activity in the industrial and logistics markets, but also in the construction and public works markets, the events industry and the automotive and aeronautics industries, among others. Moreover, this market has experienced many shocks in France over the last two decades. Faced with stagnating sales in the 1990s, the main forklift manufacturers turned to long-term rental. This trend continues today, with the development of new networks by the historical manufacturers. It is estimated that more than 60% of the equipment delivered to the market each year is intended for operational leasing.

The industrial forklift market is divided into 3 main categories: thermal forklifts (diesel or gas), electric forklifts, and warehouse forklifts (electric), which are mainly used in logistics platforms.

There is also a category of telescopic forklifts all terrain (Manitou, JCB, Caterpillar brands) whose users are mainly construction companies. This market is not covered by this study.

The forklift market is an extremely dynamic professional market. If we assume that the lifespan of a piece of equipment is about 10 years, we can estimate the French fleet of rotating equipment at between 600,000 and 800,000 units. After a sharp drop in 2020, the market has risen sharply in 2021 (+45%) to reach approximately 90,000 units (source DLR). The market is dominated by 5 global groups, the German group Kion with mainly the brands Linde, Still, Fenwick, the German group Jungheinrich, the Japanese group Toyota, the Japanese group Logisnext with the brands Mitsubishi, Caterpillar Lift Truck and the American group Hyster-Yale. A large number of distributors and rental companies distribute, rent and maintain equipment. The major groups are buzzing with mergers and acquisitions and partnerships, proof that the market is attracting interest.

According to the rental union (DLR), the market for front-end trucks has grown very slightly over the past 10 years, but electric front-end trucks are growing steadily, while thermal trucks are stagnating. At the same time, electric forklifts are growing very rapidly due to the growth in the construction of new logistics platforms. The share of electric forklifts in the French fleet has risen from 38% in 2001 to 55% in 2018. By comparison, in Germany, the trend is similar, with the share of electric trucks rising from 46% to 59% over the same period. [My Forklift]

The levers for growth now seem to be in the field of intralogistics automation - as shown by the numerous alliances between forklift manufacturers and robotics players - Toyota has bought Vanderlande, a specialist in baggage handling for airports, Kion has acquired the American company Dematic and Logisnext owns the AGV manufacturer Rocla - and electric machines in response to new French regulations. The development of the market is reflected today by the coexistence of numerous ranges of forklifts, whose payload capacity generally varies between 1.5 and 4.5 tons for the core market. This diversity is also found in the lifting height (over 10 meters for some models), in the lifting capacity which exceeds 10 tons, the power source (gas, diesel, electric, hydrogen), etc. Forklifts in France, which are mainly gas-powered, are moving towards electric. According to an industry expert, more electric forklifts are now sold than gas or diesel forklifts.

The immediate effect of the COVID-10 crisis was to drastically reduce activity in this market, given the significant impact that the restrictions had on key markets. This sharp decline in 2019 and 2010 was largely offset by a very strong recovery in 2021, a year in which the market grew by approximately 46% compared to 2020



1.2 A fast-growing global market

A forklift is an industrial vehicle with an attached fork device that can be lowered or raised to be inserted under a load to move or lift it. It is used to transport and lift heavy objects for operations in industrial facilities, warehouses, distribution centers and outdoor environments. The global forklift ...

1.3 The dynamics of the forklift market in France

According to the French Construction, Infrastructure, Steel and Handling Equipment Association (***).

The market for the delivery of new forklifts in France in **** was therefore approximately *** million euros, of which *** million for thermal front ends, *** million for electric front ends and *** million for warehouse equipment (***).

Then, after a sharp drop in ****, the ...

1.4 Foreign trade

To analyze foreign trade, we study international trade in self-propelled industrial trucks, with lifting devices to a height >= * m (***).

We can see on the following graph that France has a positive trade balance on this type of product (***).

Foreign trade in self-propelled industrial trucks, with lifting device to a height >= * m France, ...

1.5 The COVID-19 crisis

The COVID-** crisis has led, on the one hand, to a sudden halt in the production of construction equipment and, on the other, to the permanent or temporary closure of construction sites. The Manitou group, one of the leading players in the telescopic forklift market, is the sole example of the ...

2 Analysis of the demand

2.1 The different segments of the demand

Since the ****s, the market has shifted from purchase to long-term rental. Today, long-term rental represents more than **% of the equipment delivered each year on the French market. If we consider only large industrial companies, they rent about **% of the handling equipment they use.

For many market players, renting material handling ...

2.2 A focus on price: the rise of forklift rental

For many market players, renting material handling equipment has many advantages over buying it. Among these advantages, Avesco Rent (***) mentions flexibility, less capital tied up, the possibility of reducing insurance premiums, etc. Moreover, companies that use the rental of handling equipment can have the appropriate equipment for the work required, while ...

2.3 Logistics sector drives demand

The logistics sector is a natural outlet for the forklift market. The number of distribution platforms is multiplying on the French territory and the crisis has given a strong acceleration to e-commerce and to the whole parcel distribution logistics sector.

evolution of the construction sector in France France, ****-****, in € ...

2.4 The evolution of the main forklift market opportunities

In addition to the logistics sector, the forklift market is also used in the event industry, the retail sector and in all industries and the aeronautical industry in particular, which is developing strongly despite the violent crisis it has undergone.

- The events sector

The events market, which includes activities related ...

3 Market structure

3.1 Manufacturing of forklifts

The forklift market is a market shared by a very small number of players. Four global forklift manufacturers account for nearly **% of the market share in France, according to an industry expert. While the main player in France remains the Kion group (***), Crown and Hyster Yale.

In France, German production remains ...

3.2 The case of cart rental

The French forklift truck rental market is divided into two main categories:

Generalist rental companies, such as Loxam and Kiloutou, whose clientele is diversified or composed ofthe generalist rental companies, such as Loxam and Kiloutou, whose clientele is diversified or made up of craftsmen who only occasionally use load lifting systems ...

3.3 Market concentration

- Forklift distribution

The distribution of forklifts is an important issue. Indeed, if some manufacturers such as Toyota Industries or Still, also ensure the distribution of their machines, several companies specialize in the distribution and rental of forklifts. The Aprolis and Manuloc groups are the French leaders in this segment and distribute, ...

3.4 Distribution

The distribution channels are not very diversified and are mainly focused on the integration of the network or its distribution by a few independent players.

The main global manufacturers (***) to find distributors to penetrate the French market.

Integrated networks control about **% of the market. Only two major global manufacturers use independent ...

4 Analysis of the offer

4.1 The preponderance of price and the development of new services in the rental segment

According to Supply Chain Magazine, until the crisis of ****-****, the forklift rental market in France was focused on a confrontation between technical specificities. However, the commercial battle has now evolved due to two trends: the homogenization of machine performance, and the reduction of customers' equipment budgets. As a result, the ...

4.2 Price is a determining factor in this highly competitive market

According to an industry expert, the short-term rental segment generates particularly high margin levels compared to other distribution modes (***). On average, margins on short-term rental are between ** and **%, while for long-term rental they are more around **-**%, and **% for sales. Margin levels depend largely on the quality of after-sales service, depreciation ...

4.3 A strong dependence between price and cart capacity

The market for front-end forklifts includes a wide range of equipment. The value of front-end forklifts ranges from about €**,*** for the smallest in capacity to over €***,*** for large capacity forklifts over ** tons and port trucks. The same is true for warehouse trucks where more than half of the market is made ...

4.4 Innovation at the heart of the offer

While innovation in the services offered by manufacturers enables them to expand their offerings, it is also key for them to improve their products. Improving the performance and operating efficiency of forklifts is at the heart of manufacturers' innovation challenges and R&D efforts. Load capacities and working heights on the ...

5 Regulation

5.1 Tightening of European regulations on greenhouse gas emissions

Since ****, thermal forklifts, which account for the majority of the French forklift fleet, have been subject to European regulation **/**/EG, which requires the reduction of nitrogen oxides (***), hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and soot particles on diesel engines above ** kW.

As of January ****, these thermal forklifts will also be subject to the new ...

5.2 Forklift rental: regulations include reciprocal obligations

In the case of a rental without a driver, the renter must meet several obligations (***):

The forklift truck must comply with the regulations in force (***); He must present the CE declaration of conformity of the truck; The instruction manual of the forklift written by the manufacturer must be provided as well ...

List of charts

  • International trade in forklifts
  • Size of the global forklift market
  • Breakdown of the turnover of French companies in the handling sector by activity
  • Market size of the Lifting and Handling Equipment Manufacturing
  • Foreign trade of self-propelled industrial trucks with lifting device to a height >= 1 m
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Companies quoted in this study

This study contains a complete overview of the companies in the market, with the latest figures and news for each company. :

Toyota Industries
OMG Industry Expertlift
Heli Belgique
Aprolis Groupe
Kion Group (Linde, Still, Fenwick)
Hyster-Yale Materials Handling
Anhui HELI

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