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2014-05-20

BYD Unveils Zero-Emissions, Electric Forklift Series for Europe with Unique 'Battery-for-Life'

Advanced battery technology integrated in the newest series of electric forklifts from BYD slashes operating costs for forklift operators with a life-time battery.

Ask any forklift fleet manager what the biggest headache is with traditional electric forklift trucks and the answer is invariably the same – the time, trouble and cost involved in constantly having to recharge them as well as the risk of damage to the battery due to improper maintenance, which leads to expensive battery replacement. But now a new concept in battery technology is completely redefining the performance users will come to expect from their electric materials handling equipment, removing many of these problems and substantially reducing the operating costs involved.

BYD's Iron-Phosphate (or "Fe") battery, being unveiled at CeMAT 2014 in a new series of forklift trucks at the BYD Europe booth (Hall 25, Stand C21), requires significantly less time to charge than traditional lead-acid batteries and offers dramatically extended battery life. For the first time ever, the truck battery needs never be replaced over the life of the forklift. Typical charging time for a BYD Iron-Phosphate battery is just one to two hours – less than a quarter of the time required by lead-acid alternatives. Gone are the days when the only way to extend shift life was to have a second battery and some heavyweight battery changing equipment on hand, because the working hours of a BYD battery can be significantly extended at any time with a quick 'top-off' session – just 10 minutes’ charging while the lift truck operator takes a coffee break, in fact, is all that is needed to extend working time up to 45 minutes. This quick full charging time and the ability to top up the charge in short bursts without damaging overall battery life makes the BYD Iron-Phosphate battery hugely flexible for end users.

But charging isn't just extremely quick and flexible – it's also highly cost-effective, since the BYD Fe battery consumes around 40% less electricity during charging/discharging than a standard lead-acid one. That means much lower energy bills for users of the technology as well as making a serious contribution to reducing carbon emissions. Talking of emissions, charging the BYD Iron-Phosphate battery is also much cleaner than alternative battery technologies, venting no hydrogen gases normal seen when lead-acid batteries are charging (and restricted to vented areas). That allows users to position their charging stations right next to the drivers' rest areas without problems, making it quick and easy for drivers to park and plug in reducing employee downtime walking from remote charging stations. It also helps to keep any risk of collision between pedestrians and other vehicles to a minimum. The Fe battery contributes to safety in other ways, too: unlike some lithium-ion batteries, BYD's Iron-Phosphate batteries do not present risks, even when dropped, crushed or subjected to overcharging. They do not contain heavy metals or acid, either, and so cannot contaminate ground or water supplies as a lead-acid battery might, and they don't heat up during charging the way that traditional lead-acid batteries do.

BYD's revolutionary Fe battery technology also does completely away with the need for daily and weekly battery maintenance, saving on the time and labour otherwise involved in frequent battery inspections and top-ups and, of course, on the expensive distilled water normally required. The upshot of all this is a very dramatic savings in operating costs: BYD has calculated that the annual operating and battery amortization cost savings when using an Iron-Phosphate battery in a single-shift, five-day-a–week lift truck operation could exceed €1,500 a year. The astonishing lifespan of a BYD Iron-Phosphate battery creates a further layer of savings, because even after 4,000 charging cycles, these amazing power cells retain over 75% of their original capacity. That means that after 8 years of dual-shift operation five days a week, the remaining capacity in the battery will exceed 75%. The life span of the BYD battery is much longer than that of a typical (four to six year) lifespan of an ordinary lead-acid battery.

That means a single BYD Iron-Phosphate battery could replace up to four traditional lead acid ones over 8-10 years in operations where daily battery changes were required for the latter – a savings in battery purchase costs over the period of over €10,000 for every lithium iron phosphate battery-equipped forklift in use. Little wonder, perhaps, that Javier Contijoch, Forklifts Director at BYD Europe, said he was expecting a massive level of interest in the new technology, both at CeMAT 2014 and in coming months, "Companies running lift trucks will be compelled to take a closer look at this technology," he predicted. “No fleet manager these days can afford to ignore the massive savings, in both purchase and operating costs, of the BYD 'battery-for-life' approach - or to pass up the opportunity of using such a clean, safe and sustainable source of power."

"It's obvious that Iron-Phosphate battery technology is a breakthrough in the forklift sector, and BYD, as the world's biggest battery manufacturer, has now made future a modern-day reality with the new range of trucks being launched here today," added Contijoch.