Hyundai CE Launches Next-Gen Electric Forklift

The 2.5-ton B-X electric forklift employs the company’s first application of lithium-iron-phosphate batteries.

Hyundai CE engineers selected LFP batteries for the new B-X series forklifts because they require shorter charging time and generate higher power output than lead-acid batteries. (Hyundai CE)

Hyundai Construction Equipment is actively targeting the “eco-friendly” logistics market with its next-generation, high-performance B-X electric forklift. The 2.5-ton forklift is widely used in indoor warehouses and is expected to be the core product, along with the company’s first medium-sized hydrogen forklift developed in Korea, to meet the needs of the logistics industry.

Battery power output for the 3.0- to 3.5-ton forklift is 51.2V, 600 Ah. (Hyundai CE)

Hyundai CE says it is determined to redefine standards for small-electric-forklift markets – where cost-effectiveness is critical – by applying lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) batteries for the first time in the B-X series. LFP batteries require shorter charging time and generate higher power output than lead-acid batteries, which typically have been applied to conventional electric forklifts. They are suitable for long operating hours and a high volume of goods.

Recharging time varies, depending on the charger capacity, the company shared with SAE Media. “Normally, it takes an hour to fully charge the LFP battery,” a spokesperson said. Battery power output for the 2.5-ton forklift is 51.2V, 500 Ah; for the 3.0- to 3.5-ton forklift it’s 51.2V, 600 Ah.

For the B-X series, engineers focused on maximizing operator convenience. The driver’s seat design and air-conditioning and heating functions were optimized from an ergonomic aspect to ensure an internal structure that can support long-term operations, the company said. Maintenance convenience also was a critical factor. The design allows easier and safer battery withdrawal on the side using hand pallets or forklifts; most conventional electric forklifts require cranes when removing a battery.

Hyundai Mobis developed a customized hydrogen fuel-cell system for the 5-ton forklift prototype that is planned for commercial launch by 2023. (Hyundai CE)

Hyundai CE began the test-drive operation of the next-generation B-X series electric forklift in October as part of its offline launch. The company plans to implement the test-drive program for one year. “We have launched the B-X Series with eco-friendliness, work efficiency and user-friendly features,” a company official said. “We will take the lead in positive changes in the logistics market with differentiated product power and marketing strategies.”

The B-X electric forklift will first be released in Korea and emerging markets (Asia, Middle East, Africa). “After examining market reactions, we will consider launching them in the U.S. and European market,” the spokesperson shared. This strategy follows how “other optimal premium forklifts have been released in U.S. and European markets.”

Developing fuel-cell forklifts

Hyundai CE announced in August it will develop small-sized forklifts powered by hydrogen fuel cells supplied by South Korean manufacturer S-Fuelcell Co. The companies plan to commercialize the 1- to 3-ton forklifts by 2023.

According to the agreement, Hyundai CE will be responsible for the production of hydrogen forklifts and power pack control and communication systems. S-Fuelcell will develop and produce the hydrogen fuel-cell power packs. The fuel-cell power pack is expected to work for up to 8 hours on a single charge based on stable output performance.

This development follows the aforementioned mid-sized hydrogen forklifts that Hyundai CE developed in 2020 in cooperation with Hyundai Mobis and Hyundai Motor Co. The 5-ton fuel-cell forklift is undergoing trials in Korea, with commercialization also expected by 2023.

The mid-to-large-sized forklift is fitted with a “first of its kind in the world” hydro fuel cell system produced by Hyundai Motor Group. The machine can lift up to 5 tons of cargo and be operated continuously for 5 hours when its hydrogen fuel cell is fully charged.

The power pack serves as a generator that generates electricity for the hydrogen fuel-cell forklift. The system has integrated components including a fuel cell stack, a high-voltage battery, a hydrogen tank and a cooling device. The companies noted that the hydrogen fuel-cell system used for automobiles could not be applied to its hydrogen fuel-cell forklift, so Hyundai Mobis developed a customized system for it.

Hyundai Mobis and affiliates also are jointly developing a hydrogen fuel-cell excavator. Following demonstration and pilot projects, the companies plan to launch the excavator by 2023.