The question of whether to use electric or internal combustion (IC) forklifts is an increasingly important one for both new and established companies. Understanding forklift fuel types and forklift fuel consumption will help you analyze the advantages and disadvantages of each option and ultimately make the best choice for your business. Learn more about electric vs. propane forklifts below.

Electric Forklifts

The industry has experienced new trends in forklift fuel type sales in recent years, with electric forklifts accounting for a larger portion of the market share each year. This rise in popularity is possible because of the technological advancements happening in the renewable energy sector—which means more comparable metrics to IC forklifts in terms of performance and battery life. Developments in charging capabilities, high voltage outputs, batteries, pumps, and motors have contributed to these improved metrics.


  • No exhaust emissions
  • Lower maintenance costs
  • Less operator fatigue due to less noise and vibration
  • Lower repair costs
  • Lower long-term forklift fuel consumption costs


  • Higher initial cost
  • Requires additional areas for charging, watering, and cleaning
  • Prone to being less reliable, especially outdoors
  • Unexpected downtimes if the battery is not charged or equalized properly

Internal Combustion Forklifts

Internal combustion engines are still a strong and viable option when deciding on a forklift fuel type. With a tried and true record of reliable performance over decades, IC forklifts are the safe choice. They tend to be more popular choices for outdoor operations and operations that require a heavier load capacity.


  • Flexible and reliable performance
  • Capable of more continuous use
  • Lower initial cost
  • Easy to refuel


  • Requires proper ventilation due to emissions
  • Increases operator fatigue due to noise and vibration
  • Higher long-term forklift fuel consumption costs

Weighing these factors is critical as you determine the right fuel source for your business. Be sure to research individual models to make the most informed decision possible when it comes to selecting an electric vs. a propane forklift.

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