See the impact of rising fuel prices with our electric forklift calculator
The gap in running costs is widening
At the beginning of 2020, we took a look at the benefits of electric forklifts, and in 2021, we launched our electric forklift calculator to provide you with a good idea of the savings your business could make by switching from diesel or propane.
Since then, the price of fuel has risen dramatically. Natural Resources Canada data shows that between February 2021 and April 2022, the average cost of auto propane has risen by around 40%, while the average cost of diesel has risen by around 75%.
In April of this year, our rates for electricity decreased by an average of 1.4%, widening the gap in running costs even further. There's never been a better time to make the move to electric forklifts.
More reasons to consider an electric forklift
Before we look at the savings our electric forklift calculator can highlight for your business, let's take a look at some of the other reasons you might want to upgrade.
The latest lithium-ion battery-powered electric forklifts are around 30% more efficient than older lead-acid battery models. And they also have quite a few other benefits, too:
- Reduced charging time: Lithium-ion batteries can charge up to eight times faster than older lead-acid batteries.
- No swapping out: Lithium-ion batteries don't need to be swapped out and can even be charged up during coffee breaks.
- No hazardous fumes or leaks: There are no CO2 fumes from an electric forklift, and if you have a lithium-ion battery, there are no potential acid leaks, either.
- Fewer battery replacements: All batteries have a lifecycle, but modern lithium-ion batteries last a lot longer than older lead-acid batteries. This means you'll have to buy fewer replacement batteries and dispose of fewer dead batteries.
- Silent operation: Need to operate a forklift in public areas? No problem – electric forklifts are virtually silent.
Calculate your savings
Many larger businesses have already made the switch to electric forklifts. But if you're a small business, it can be difficult to figure out which option makes sense. Our calculator helps you make an informed decision.
"During the early evaluation stage of electric forklift conversions, it's great to see a breakdown of different costs and fuels over the life of the equipment," explains Scott Schuppler, Energy Manager at West Fraser. "We're constantly evaluating carbon reduction projects that will support our long-term goals."
Let’s take a look at some example calculations using BC Hydro's large general service rate and fuel prices from the end of April 2022. Fuel prices in the calculator are updated every week, so it's worth checking the numbers for your business as you might see even greater savings. Exact costs may vary depending on your location.
For the demonstration below, we've looked at the 10 year lifecycle costs of a fleet of 5x 5,000 lb electric forklifts, each operating for 2,000 hours a year (eight hours a day x five days a week x 50 weeks a year). When doing your calculation, you'll need to enter the relevant data for your business.
Let's talk about the upfront cost first as electric forklifts do cost more to buy. And unlike electric vehicles, there are currently no available incentives. But stay with us, because you're about to see some significant long term savings.
Based on our large general service rate, we can immediately start to see where those savings kick in. Electric forklift energy costs are roughly 14% of what you could pay with a gas-powered model.
Electric motors have far fewer moving parts than gas-powered drivetrains, so electric forklifts suffer less wear and tear, which means they require less maintenance.
Electric forklifts are exempt from carbon tax. But with the five gas-powered models used in this example, you could be paying at least $30,000 in taxes over 10 years.
When we factor all those costs into the mix and look at the total for this example, it's easy to see that the electric forklift solution is going to cost a lot less. And let's not forget that you'll also be reducing your impact on the environment.
Electric forklifts don't emit exhaust fumes, but there are some emissions associated with the electricity they use. However, because 98% of the electricity we generate is clean, those emissions are kept to an absolute minimum – approximately just 1% of the emissions produced by propane or diesel forklifts.
For Schuppler, the emissions calculations are as important as the cost calculations. "West Fraser is managing decarbonization activities on a timeline that corresponds to Canada's carbon tax, over about the next 5-10 years," explains Schuppler." Recent fuel price increases are a good near-term reminder of the potential volatility of fossil fuel pricing."
Ready to give your warehouse a lift?
If you'd like to find out more about electric forklifts and see what they could do for your business, try running your own numbers through our calculator and contact your Key Account Manager or Regional Energy Manager, or call our Business Helpdesk at 604 522 4713 in the Lower Mainland or 1 866 522 4713 elsewhere in B.C.