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Electric vs IC engine forklifts: the continuous battle

There’s a battle raging between electric and IC engine forklifts, but which side will you choose? Just a few years ago, the choice was simple. But the latest developments in electrics make it a much tougher decision.

While many lift truck manufacturers are emphasising the benefits of electric, at Mitsubishi, we understand the real value from weighing up the options. After all, it’s the only way to ensure you get the right truck for your needs and budget. 

Is your future electric?

In recent years, we’ve seen electric lift trucks give IC engine trucks a real run for their money. And for quite a few good reasons, too.

  • Lower lifetime costs
  • Emission-free operations (which may be even a requirement in your country at indoor operations)
  • Batteries feature a high percentage of recycled lead
  • Zero disposal waste (eg engine fluids, transmission fluids, etc) 
  • Less noise and vibration generated by truck – reducing risk of operator fatigue.
  • Fewer moving parts to maintain and repair.
  • Lower fuel costs, thanks to recharging

As tempting as this sounds, there are some potential obstacles to consider if you want to go electric: 

  • Higher initial investment (but lower running costs over the truck’s lifetime)
  • Often requires a dedicated charging area
  • Staff will need training on battery care to minimise downtime 
  • Many electrics are not suitable for outdoor operations – especially if it’ wet. There are exceptions like the Mitsubishi EDiA EX, which offers protection against ingress of water and dust.

Or is an IC-engine forklift the best choice for you? 

The market for diesel and LPG-powered lift trucks remains strong. IC engine still is the dominant choice at present for high-throughput applications, as well as operations outdoors and those applications that require multiple shifts. And (again) for good reasons too…

  • Work effectively indoors or outdoors… even in rain and poor weather conditions.
  • Initial investment is lower as you only need to invest in tanks and storage. 
  • Quick and easy refuelling. (An LP gas cannister can be replaced in as little as 5 minutes.)
  • Suitable for the most challenging attachment applications with high remaining residual capacities.

However, there are some aspects of operation to consider. These include:

  • Indoor operation (if allowed) will require adequate ventilation to protect staff.
  • IC engine lift trucks generate noise and vibrations and that can cause operator fatigue.
  • An odour is emitted during operations (in this case, from the truck. Not the driver)

Make your decision…

After you’ve considered these points, it’s important to think about how much you will use your lift truck.  It may mean you can spread the higher cost of a forklift truck over the loads your machine will carry.

Our decision tree will help guide you: download the infographic in this article!




When you buy electric, you are investing in the battery. That’s why it’s important to consider your truck’s whole-life costs. Electrics usually come out on top, but it completely depends on the application. Assess your situation together with your forklift dealer.  


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