It may not be a major rebound, but the lift truck market appears to be bouncing back after one of the worst downturns in the industry's history.
Fresh from a meeting with the lift truck manufacturer's dealers, Brett Wood, president of Toyota Material Handling USA (TMHU), said on Monday that dealers are expressing "cautious optimism" about sales this year. Speaking with DC Velocity at ProMat 2011, Wood said dealers expect sales to bump up by 5 to 10 percent for the year over a dismal 2010 for the industry.
Wood says that a combination of pent-up demand and companies now willing to release capital should spur new truck sales. In addition, dealers report that utilization of their rental fleets is running at 70 to 80 percent and that service parts sales have accelerated—two indicators of a recovering market, according to Wood.
He cautions, however, that events could yet intervene to disrupt the recovery, including political upheaval in the Middle East and as yet unforeseen consequences of the Japanese earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear plant catastrophe. (Toyota Industries in Japan has pledged $1.2 million to aid in recovery efforts there, and TMHU has implemented a matching gift program in support of its associates' donations to the American Red Cross for the same effort.) Wood maintains that, at least for the near term, the events on Japan have not affected TMHU's supply chain.
New product, expanded guarantee
During the same interview, Wood announced a new product from TMHU and an extended warranty on Toyota parts.
The company introduced an integrated scale for 4,000- to 5,000-pound Toyota internal combustion, cushion-tire lift truck models. The new scale allows for simultaneous weighing and transportation of loads, resulting in increased efficiency and reduced logistic expenses.
Martin Boyd, vice president of product planning and marketing, said, "With Toyota's lift truck integrated scale, our customers are able to continuously weigh, handle, and manage load data in one streamlined operation, offering valuable time and fuel savings."
The scale has four electronic weigh-bar sensors that are National Type Evaluation Program (NTEP)-certified and are integrated into the scale's heavy-duty reinforced carriage. This design helps the scale withstand stress under heavy loads and protects the scale's sensors against impact, according to the company. The electronic sensors have no mechanical springs or moving parts that can be damaged or break, and the bolt-on sensors are conveniently located for easy servicing.
The Toyota integrated scale is pre-calibrated and tested prior to shipping from Toyota's manufacturing facility in Columbus, Ind. The scale is available through the company's network of dealers.
Wood also announced that TMHU is doubling its warranty on Toyota parts to 12 months or 2000 hours of operation.