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Forklift market rebound causes gap between order intakes and shipments

Joseph Walker

Jos Walker

Marketing Communications

Jos has over 10 years' experience in B2B marketing, mostly for blue-chip industrial automation companies like Emerson and General Electric. He started working with IA in 2019, and handles a variety of PR and marketing communications-related activities.


  • Long-term forecast of global market in 2028 raised by 40%
  • APAC accounts for 54% of 2021 forklift shipments
  • E-commerce, digitalization, and electrification will drive the market

London, 17th November 2021– Updated research from global market intelligence firm Interact Analysis shows that, despite some current difficulties with shipping finished products, there is a very positive long-term projection for the forklift market.


The pandemic caused order intake in the first quarter of 2020 to drop almost 70% year-on-year, but the second quarter saw a huge rebound in the market, particularly in Asia. The knock-on effect of this was supply-chain blockages which resulted in a growing gap between order intakes and shipments, with shipment growth in 2021 growing only half as fast as orders (see Fig. 1).


The long-term outlook for the forklift market nevertheless remains positive, and will be driven by three key trends: e-commerce, electrification, and digitalization. Forklift growth in e-commerce markets is driven by an ever-growing need to improve competitive efficiency via mechanization and automation. Meanwhile, an unprecedented drive from government and industry to reduce carbon emissions is turbocharging the electrification of commercial vehicles of all types. Forklifts are particularly easy to electrify due to their low weights and limited range requirements, and electrification of forklifts – already a widespread trend – will therefore continue to accelerate. Finally, advances in digitalization will drive the market for autonomous forklifts in the medium-term.


From a regional perspective, China’s forklift shipment rate surpassed Europe for the first time in 2020, accounting for 38.7% of the global total. The only other region to report growth in that year was South America, with the rest of the world experiencing a contraction of ~8%. However, during 2021, all areas will rebound with a rate of at least 10% apart from Japan which is set for 2% decline.


Maya Xiao, Senior Analyst at interact Analysis, says: “Toyota, along with China’s Anhui Heli and Hangcha groups, held the top three 2020 market shares in shipment terms at 17.1%, 14.2%, and 13.3% respectively. Heli and Hangcha achieved the status of top three suppliers in 2020 for the first time, as a result of robust performance in their domestic Chinese market relative to the rest of the world. In contrast to this, while Toyota maintained its status as global #1 supplier in 2020, their market share fell by 0.9%. As the rest of the world rebounds from COVID-19 and as supply chains gradually loosen, we can expect further significant changes in the relative market positions of forklift suppliers.”


About the Report:


The 2nd edition of the well-respected Interact Analysis market report on the global forklift industry looks at Class 1-5 forklifts mainly in manufacturing and logistics environments with a focus on electrification.


About Interact Analysis


With over 200 years of combined experience, Interact Analysis is the market intelligence authority for global supply chain automation. Our research covers the entire automation value chain – from the technology used to automate factory production, through inventory storage and distribution channels, to the transportation of the finished goods. The world’s leading companies trust us to surface robust insights and opportunities for technology-driven growth. To learn more, visit


As the pandemic drove e-commerce to unseen levels, there was sharp growth in forklift orders

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