Electric Forklifts: 3 Wheels vs 4 Wheels

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An industrial counterbalance forklift truck is, arguably, the quintessential warehouse machine. Ask someone who has never set foot into a factory to describe a forklift truck and it’s what they immediately think of – the classic design, a small and compact vehicle capable of counterbalancing its own weight in order to manoeuvre heavy loads around the site.

But to those of us with an in-depth knowledge of the industry, it’s just not as simple as that. Even within this classic mould, there are different specifications that suit different businesses – choosing the right type of vehicle could be crucial to health and safety and production levels, among many other factors. Below, we run through some attributes that may help you make the right decision.

3 Wheels


Normally used for carrying lighter loads, the three-wheeled electric is renowned for having a smaller turning circle than their more traditional four-wheeled cousins. As a result, they have become a firm favourite across a wide array of industries that do not require loads of more than around 2500kg to be moved on a regular basis, such as trade and retail or manufacturing.

However, it’s worth noting that their increased mobility only really comes into play when used indoors on a flat surface. If your business is one that deploys a selective racking system, they are great – they can work with ease in tighter spaces, allowing for smaller aisles to be adopted in order to utilise further space across the warehouse floor. Outdoors or on rougher terrain, it’s a different story – the trucks struggle to move freely and many of the attributes that make them so popular are rendered obsolete quite quickly.

4 Wheels


While the three-wheeled model has grown significantly in popularity over recent years, there is undoubtedly still a case to be made for the original electric counterbalanced forklift truck. For a start, the stability they offer allows them to carry a much greater weight – pick the right model and you could be shifting loads of up to 8000kg with ease. The rear axle allows the driver to have much more control over the balance of the truck, making them a favourite with companies that operate with heavy machinery equipment or huge quantities of stock that needs attending on a regular basis.

Another key attribute of the four-wheeled truck is their ability to operate on rougher terrain. The loading and unloading of trucks in a yard, for example, is perfectly suited to its strengths, able to deal with uneven surfaces much easier thanks to the distribution of weight across the four points. Even despite the threat of three-wheeled truck on its superiority within the market, the four-wheeled model holds a monopoly over companies that operate in outdoor spaces thanks to their more heavy-duty qualities. While they may cost slightly more, it’s an investment worth taking if your company works within these parameters.

Here at Hitec, our three decades in the industry leave us in perfect stead to assist in an assessment of your company and your needs when it comes to forklift trucks. With the help of our professional team, you’ll have access to the most suitable vehicles and a wealth of knowledge that’ll ensure they are utilised in a safe, proficient manner.

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