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How does the cost of fuel affect the operating costs of a diesel forklift?

Running a diesel forklift comes with many costs, such as fuel expenses. The cost of operating a diesel forklift is highly dependent on the cost of fuel, and this article will discuss how that affects the overall operational costs. 

We’ll start by taking a look at why diesel engines are commonly used in forklifts, their benefits, and then discuss how their cost of operation can be affected by fuel prices. By understanding these factors, owners of TAG Forklifts can make more informed decisions about their choice of forklifts and plan accordingly when it comes to budgeting for operational costs.

Advantages of Diesel Forklifts

Diesel forklifts offer several advantages over their electric counterparts, depending on the specific needs of your business.


Diesel forklifts are highly versatile and can be used in a wide range of environments, including outdoor areas where electric forklifts might not be suitable. They have a higher ground clearance, making them ideal for rough terrain and uneven surfaces.

Additionally, diesel forklifts can handle heavier loads than electric forklifts, making them more suitable for heavy-duty applications such as the construction industry.

Lower Initial Cost

Diesel forklifts generally have a lower initial cost compared to electric forklifts. This can be a significant advantage for small businesses or those operating on a tight budget.

Lower Maintenance Costs

Diesel forklifts have fewer components than electric forklifts, which means they have lower maintenance costs over time. This can result in lower repair costs and reduced downtime, leading to higher levels of productivity.

Additionally, diesel engines tend to have a longer lifespan than electric motors, meaning that diesel forklifts can be used for longer periods before needing to be replaced.

Overall, diesel forklifts offer several advantages over electric forklifts, including versatility, lower initial cost and maintenance costs, and the ability to handle heavier loads. However, the specific needs of your business should be taken into consideration before making a decision on which type of forklift to use.

Optimising fuel efficiency of diesel forklifts

Are you looking for ways to reduce your fuel consumption and lower operating costs? Here are some practical tips on how to optimise the fuel efficiency of diesel forklifts:



Regular maintenance

Regular maintenance is crucial for keeping your diesel forklift running efficiently. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule, including regular oil changes and filter replacements.

Proper use of equipment

Train your operators on how to use the equipment correctly. Ensure they are using the forklift within its capacity, avoiding excessive loads and unnecessary idling.

Fuel quality

Ensure you are using high-quality fuel. Low-quality fuel can lead to deposits in the engine, reducing efficiency and increasing maintenance costs. Consider using a fuel additive to keep your engine clean.

Idle control

Encourage your operators to switch off the engine when the forklift is not in use. This will help to reduce unnecessary fuel consumption.

By implementing these strategies, you can help reduce your fuel consumption and save money on operating costs. Remember, small adjustments can make a big difference!

Electric forklifts and environmental impact

If you’re concerned about your carbon footprint and want to minimise your company’s impact on the environment, you may want to consider electric forklifts over diesel options. In recent years, many businesses have started prioritising sustainability, and electric forklifts have become an increasingly popular choice.

Electric forklifts are significantly more environmentally friendly than diesel forklifts. They don’t produce any emissions, which means they don’t contribute to air pollution. This can be especially important in indoor settings, where air quality can be a concern. By eliminating carbon emissions, electric forklifts provide an eco-friendly option for businesses seeking to reduce their environmental impact.

Electric forklifts also have lower noise levels than diesel forklifts. This can be especially valuable in environments where low noise levels are essential, such as hospitals or schools. By reducing noise pollution, electric forklifts can help create a more comfortable and productive work environment.

Cost comparison: Diesel vs Electric forklifts

When it comes to choosing between diesel and electric forklifts, one of the most critical factors to consider is the cost of operating these machines. While diesel forklifts have traditionally been the go-to option for heavy-duty tasks that require high lifting capacities, electric forklifts are quickly gaining popularity due to their low noise levels, zero emissions, and reduced environmental impact. Here, we will provide a comprehensive cost comparison between diesel and electric forklifts to help you make an informed decision based on your specific needs.

Fuel costs for diesel forklifts

The primary cost associated with diesel forklifts is the cost of fuel. According to industry experts, diesel forklifts consume around 2.5 to 4 litres of fuel per hour, depending on the size and capacity of the machine. With diesel prices ranging from £0.85 to £1.10 per litre, the fuel cost for operating a diesel forklift can add up quickly, especially for businesses that use these machines for extended periods.

Electricity costs for electric forklifts

Electric forklifts, on the other hand, rely on electricity to power their motors. The cost of electricity varies by region and provider, but a rough estimate is around £0.11 to £0.20 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). According to industry experts, electric forklifts consume around 7 to 9 kWh per hour, depending on the size and capacity of the machine. Based on these estimates, the cost of operating an electric forklift is significantly lower than that of a diesel forklift.

Overall operating costs comparison

The total operating cost of a forklift includes not only the fuel or electricity cost but also maintenance and repair costs, operator training costs, and other related expenses. While diesel forklifts might require less frequent battery replacement and maintenance, they also tend to have a shorter lifespan compared to electric forklifts, which could result in higher replacement costs in the long run.


Diesel forklifts

Electric forklifts

Fuel/Electricity cost per hour



Maintenance and repair costs

Less frequent but higher cost

More frequent but lower cost




Operator training costs

Similar to electric forklifts

Similar to diesel forklifts

Based on these factors, the overall operating costs of electric forklifts may be lower than diesel forklifts, especially for businesses that prioritise sustainability and eco-friendliness. However, it’s important to note that the choice between diesel and electric forklifts ultimately depends on your specific needs and budget.

  • Tip: Consider using a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) calculator to estimate the long-term costs of operating a forklift based on factors such as purchase price, fuel or electricity costs, maintenance costs, and resale value.

For Affordable, Reliable Diesel Forklifts, Call TAG Forklifts Today

It’s clear that there are many factors to consider when it comes to the operating costs of diesel and electric forklifts, and businesses should evaluate their individual needs and budget when choosing which type of forklift is best for them. TAG Forklifts provides reliable diesel forklifts at affordable prices, so if you’re looking for a reliable and cost-effective solution, call us today! We’re committed to providing customised solutions that will meet all your material handling needs.

FAQs about diesel forklift fuel costs

As a business owner or manager, you may have many questions about the fuel costs associated with diesel forklifts. Here are some frequently asked questions that can help you better understand the costs associated with diesel forklifts.

How does the cost of diesel fuel compare to electric forklifts?

Diesel fuel is generally more expensive than electricity, but diesel forklifts are more fuel-efficient than electric forklifts. Therefore, the cost per hour of operation for a diesel forklift can be lower than that of an electric forklift, depending on factors such as usage and maintenance costs.

What factors affect the fuel efficiency of a diesel forklift?

Several factors can affect the fuel efficiency of a diesel forklift, including operator behaviour, maintenance, and load weight. Ensuring that your operators are trained to use the forklift correctly and regularly maintaining your equipment can help maximise fuel efficiency and reduce fuel costs.

What maintenance practices can help optimise fuel efficiency?

Regular maintenance practices like routine oil changes, cleaning or replacing air filters, and checking tire pressure can help optimise fuel efficiency. Additionally, keeping the engine tuned up and avoiding excessive idling can also reduce fuel consumption.

How can I monitor and track fuel consumption for my diesel forklifts?

Many diesel forklifts come equipped with fuel sensors that can track fuel consumption. You can also manually keep track of fuel usage by keeping records of fuel purchases and calculating the fuel consumption of each forklift. This can help you identify patterns and opportunities for optimising fuel efficiency.

Are there any grants or incentives available for purchasing electric forklifts?

There are various grants and incentives available for businesses that purchase electric forklifts, such as tax credits and rebate programs. These incentives are often designed to encourage businesses to transition to more environmentally friendly equipment. Be sure to check with your local government or industry associations to see what incentives may be available to you.

What are the trade-offs between diesel and electric forklifts?

Diesel forklifts generally have lower upfront costs and are better suited for heavy-duty applications, while electric forklifts are more environmentally friendly and have lower ongoing operating costs. Ultimately, the choice between diesel and electric forklifts depends on your specific business needs and priorities.