More than a quarter-million forklifts were sold in North America last year, up nearly 3 percent over 2017 and marking the fourth straight year of record growth in the industry, the Industrial Truck Association (ITA) reported this month.
The group said demand was strong across all classes of forklifts and that electric products made up 64 percent of the market last year. In all, year-end sales totaled 260,180, ITA said.
"Industrial truck sales continue to play an integral role in keeping the U.S. economy moving," Scott Johnson, ITA's chairman of the board of directors and vice president of marketing and sales for CLARK Material Handling Company, said in a statement announcing the 2018 sales figures. "The market contributes more than $25 billion annually to the U.S. GDP, and for every direct job in the industry, an additional 2.5 jobs are supported elsewhere in the economy."
ITA also called for lawmakers to approve the United States Mexico Canada Agreement as a way to ensure continued strength across the industry. Canada and Mexico are the largest export countries for U.S. forklift manufacturers, according to ITA.
"Passage of the United States Mexico Canada Trade Agreement will play a critical role in maintaining the health of our industry," said Brian Feehan, ITA president. "A successful conclusion to USMCA will provide the long-term policy framework manufacturers and consumers need to ensure the North American market remains one of the strongest for our industry."
Government leaders in the United States, Mexico and Canada have signed the USMCA, but it must receive legislative approval in all three countries as well before taking effect. The USMCA is an update to the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).