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TOYOTA Industries Corporation (TICO) has successfully developed a prototype forklift powered by a fuel cell hybrid system. The new initiative was developed in cooperation with Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), responsible for producing the first fuel cell car prototype in 1996.

The technology has been adapted to forklifts and TICO will now take advantage of TMCs technology and share components with the automotive field.

The new prototype forklift is known as the Toyota FCHV-F. It is equipped with a Toyota FC stack fuel cell and can carry a maximum 2500kg load.

AB Equipment executives Steve Antunovich and Scott Carrick were formally invited to the launch of the fuel cell forklift late last year, which was held in conjunction with CeMat 2005 in Hanover, Germany.

AB Equipments CEO Steve Antunovich is clearly excited about the development particularly as the concept of fuel cell forklifts will contribute significantly to a reduction in operating costs. 

At the moment when diesel prices increase so generally does the cost of truck usage. In the case of electric forklifts, two batteries are normally required as cover for longer shifts, he says. The introduction of the fuel cell hybrid system will ensure a constant power delivery, unlike electric forklifts where batteries must be periodically changed. Additionally the clean burning water based fuel system virtually eliminates forklift exhaust emissions from the environment. This makes the fuel cell forklift ideal for large distribution centres where 24 hour shift work is the norm.

The development of the prototype is one step closer towards the perfect forklift, says Antunovich. Sadly the production of the prototype into significant numbers for the commercial market is still some time off.

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