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In the United States, counter balanced forklifts are split nearly equally between electric powered models and models powered by internal combustion engines. In 2013, a total of 52,834 electric powered lift trucks were sold and a total of 66,473 engine powered forklifts were sold. That’s a split of around 44% for electric and 56% gas powered.
Although you won’t read it on their websites or brochures, most forklift manufacturers do NOT manufacture their own engine for the forklifts they build. Here are engines used in various makes and models of forklifts.
Hyster models such as S50FT and H50FT will frequently be sold with the GM 2.4L engine. This forklift engine is built in Brazil by GM for another automotive application.
Yale offers the GM 2.4 as well in models like GLC050VX or GLP50VX though most Yale dealers have a preference: the Mazda FE forklift engine. Yale has used Mazda forklift engines for years and most Yale service personnel will tell you they think it’s a tough, durable engine. Yale used other models in the past as well: the UA, VA in LPG and gas models and even Mazda diesel forklift engines.
Larger Hyster and Yale forklifts in the 8,000 pound up until 15,000 pound capacity frequently use the GM 4.3 liter forklift engine. This engine is used in other brands of forklifts as well–even Toyota, Mitsubishi, and “Cat 50 forklift” uses this engine. It’s a good engine, reasonably priced, made in America, and parts are easy to find. Forklift manufacturers will rarely reference the brand of engine in their new brochures but you can usually deduce the brand by the displacement–if a forklift has a 4.3 liter engine, there’s a 99% chance it’s a GM 4.3
Caterpillar and Mitsubishi forklifts are identical except for the color and decals on the forklifts. Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift builds both brands on its forklifts in Houston, Texas and Japan. For heart of the line models, MCF used the Mitsubishi 4G63 and 4G64 engine.
These forklift engines were built in Japan and were also used in some other brands of forklifts.
Mitsubishi, Caterpillar, and Nissan forklift divisions began using the Nissan K21 and K25 engines several years ago. Typically fitted with a Nikki LPG fuel system, these forklift engines have proven fairly reliable. K21 is 2.1 liter displacement; K25 is a 2.5 liter displacement engine.
Toyota uses its own 4Y engine in its heart of the line forklift models such as 8FGCU15, 8FGCU25. This engine has been the workhorse of Toyota forklift models for over 20 years and parts are readily found for it. It will be typically equipped with an Aisan LPG fuel system.
The point of this posting was to highlight some engines used in forklifts that were built over the past 10-15 years. In a future post, we’ll consider some of the engines used years ago such as…
Continental Y112, F163 (mostly used in Clark)
Ford (mostly used in Hyster)
Waukesha: D176 D155 (used in Clark)
Isuzu: (used in Hyster diesel forklifts)
Perkins: (used in Hyster, Caterpillar and a few others)
Cummins (current diesel engine of choice for Hyster, Yale, Taylor and Kalmar forklifts)
Peugeot XN1P: this French engine used in Caterpillar forklifts built in the 1980s
Hercules: used in Caterpillar and a few Doosan engines
Hyundai: used in Korean forklift brands such as Samsung, Doosan (a.k.a. Daewoo) and Clark.
Nissan: H20, H25, H20-II mostly used in Nissan, TCM, and Komatsu
Volkswagen: used exclusively in Linde
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