China's forklift market accounted for 70.59% of the 647,229 units sold in Asia
Sales of electric forklifts have surpassed internal combustion models for the first time, according to the latest industry analysis by the Chinese Industrial Truck Association (CITA).
The report notes that in September 2019, the total monthly sales volume of electric forklifts surpassed that of internal combustion forklifts. For the full year, the proportion of internal combustion forklifts of total sales continued to decline, accounting for 50.91% of total sales in 2019.
CITA also notes a sharp increase in lithium battery forklift sales. In 2019, a total of 74,102 units were sold, accounting for 25.03% of sales - compared to 9.31% in 2018.
CITA describes 2019 as "a complicated year for China's industrial vehicle industry", due to the impact of Sino-US trade frictions and increased environmental protection requirements. Nonetheless, the total sales volume maintained a "steady and slightly increasing situation".
Annual sales exceeded 600,000 units, and the domestic market achieved a growth of 5.88% to 456,000 units.
Exports dropped by 8.45%. With the exception of electric counterbalance forklifts, exports of all models of motorised industrial vehicles fell, most notably electric pedestrian storage forklifts which were strongly affected by US tariffs.
CITA notes that China's forklift market accounted for 70.59% of the 647,229 units sold in Asia, an increase of 2.18% from 2018, and for 30.60% of the world's sales to constitute the largest global market.
The coronavirus gets a mention in the latest report, with CITA describing the health threat as "a huge test to China's economy and people's lives". "It will certainly have an unprecedented impact on the industry," the report notes, urging manufacturers to analyse and monitor the market and "adjust the production cycle and sales and service models (and) actively respond to the difficulties".