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MHI moves forward with hybrid launch

Thursday, 15 Oct 2009 ( #432 ) - Tokyo, Japan
News Story
Mitsubishi has launched the GRENDiA EX hybrid forklift.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd (MHI) has beat Toyota to introduce the world’s first engine-battery hybrid forklift to the Japanese market.

Launched last week, the GRENDiA EX hybrid forklift model, with 4-ton-to-5-ton loading capacities, has a lithium-ion secondary battery and high-efficiency motors, integrated with a small-sized diesel engine that complies with Japan’s newest emission regulations.

The forklifts’ power train is MHI’s proprietary lithium-ion battery, a diesel engine, two induction motors and an inverter. MHI used the "series and parallel" method and its high-capacity lithium-ion battery to downsize the engine while maintaining performance. The company says that boosts fuel efficiency and reduces carbon dioxide emissions "by slashing engine-displacement by one-third".

The series and parallel method, which the forklift adopts for travel mode, enables its wheels to be driven by the engine only, battery only, or engine and drive motor simultaneously. When lifting, the forklift adopts the parallel method that enables the engine to operate the hydraulic pump and lifting motor simultaneously.

MHI says the forklifts have about "39% greater fuel efficiency" than standard internal combustion forklifts.

The GRENDiA EX hybrid is MHI’s first product to be equipped with its proprietary lithium-ion battery, which the company is currently preparing for full-scale commercial production.

MHI spokesman Hideo Ikuno tells News the Grendia EX hybrid forklifts will be available outside Japan by the first quarter of 2011.

Toyota Industries Corp’s internal combustion hybrid forklift, the Geneo Hybrid, targeted at the more than three-ton load capacity electric forklift market, will be released in Japan in December. The Geneo’s hybrid system combines a diesel engine, an electric motor and a battery. ( News #413).

In 2006, Still GmbH introduced the world’s first hybrid forklift. Awarded the UK Fork Lift Truck Association’s environmental award for 2008, the RX70 is equipped with super-capacitors, which are charged with energy released when the forklift brakes. During acceleration, power from the capacitors boosts the forklift’s performance and its diesel engine generates extra electric current with a three-phase generator for the electric drive motor. Still has delayed the series’ production, pending lower super-capacitor prices ( News # 360).

In 2007, Proton Motor Fuel Cell GmbH combined a fuel cell, a battery and supercapacitors to produce what it claims is the world’s first triple-hybrid forklift system. The system was demonstrated on a Still R60 forklift and an earlier prototype operated at Munich Airport until 2006 ( News #331).

Last month, Komatsu introduced the world’s first electric hybrid counterbalanced forklift in Australia. A Komatsu Forklift Australia spokesperson said the forklift’s dual-power capacitor and maintenance-free battery result in 11 hours of operation with a one-hour recharge interval ( News #427).
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