Deciding on Internal Combustion Forklift or Electric Forklifts

Deciding whether to use an electric forklift or an internal combustion forklift (IC) can be challenging. Electric forklifts in Gauteng are popular as their configuration has changed considerably over the years. Internal combustion forklifts are also popular due to their reliability and ease of use.

CFAO Equipment SA via its partnership with Toyota Industrial Equipment and 600SA, offers an extensive range of Toyota forklifts and CT Power Forklifts models available for hire or purchase. We offer both new and used forklifts for sale.

To assist you with your decision on whether to opt for an internal combustion forklift or an electric forklift, the team at CFAO Equipment SA has put together advantages and disadvantages for your consideration.

1. Internal combustion forklift


  • Simple and easy to refuel.
  • It is not necessary to have advanced electrical knowledge.
  • No need for a battery charger.
  • The initial costs are lower.
  • Diesel forklifts produce more driveline torque at low RPM when compared with propane and electric forklifts
  • Longer engine life is expected when compared with propane forklifts


  • Several moving parts to maintain.
  • The forklift will only be operational as long as the engine works.
  • Release of carbon emissions.
  • The driver may experience more vibration from the engine.
  • More noise from the engine.
  • A bulk tank for fuel storage is sometimes required and is an extra cost above and beyond the cost of the forklift. Municipal regulations may apply to the tank installation

2. Electric forklift


  • Lower lifetime maintenance costs.
  • Save on fuel costs as battery powered.
  • Less noise.
  • Less vibration for the driver.
  • Zero tailpipe emissions resulting in a better and more safe work environment for your employees
  • Operator productivity is often higher because there are typically fewer hand/arm/foot movements required to operate an electric forklift truck.
  • Longer major component life can be expected when compared with other propane forklift types but questionable when compared with diesel forklifts
  • Overall, when placed into the right application, the electric forklift will usually have the lowest total cost of ownership when compared with diesel and propane forklifts


  • Repairs may be more complicated.
  • The battery run time decreases over time and has to be replaced every few years.
  • Charging a battery takes longer than refuelling.
  • The initial purchase price or capital cost is higher when compared with propane and diesel forklifts
  • You need to purchase a battery charger.
  • Adequate ventilation is required around the forklift when the battery is being recharged
  • Battery chargers have certain voltage and amperage requirements, particularly during startup. An existing electrical service may or may not meet these requirements

Aside from the forklift advantages and disadvantages listed above, how often you will use the forklift is another important consideration. When buying an electric forklift and using it one or two times a week, it is very likely that your business will not experience the cost-saving benefits as you won’t be handling enough loads to justify the higher initial costs. Also, a forklift battery lasts longer and performs better when it is used often and regularly maintained.

However, if you need a dozen forklifts for three shifts per day, then having a fleet of electric forklifts would be ideal. You would have to consider travel speed, precise handling and work environment when deciding when buying or renting an internal combustion forklift and an electric forklift from CFAO Equipment SA or its partners. However, an IC forklift makes more sense if your team is operating in an outdoor environment as they do not have to have access to a battery charger.

Contact CFAO Equipment SA

Our experts at CFAO Equipment SA will help you find the right forklift for your operations. We provide the highest quality products and services to ensure your operational success. Our divisions include 600SA, Toyota Industrial Equipment and TUF Forklift division.

Complete the enquiry form below or contact CFAO Equipment SA directly and let us help you find the right forklift for your requirements.

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