There is growing interest in – and uptake of – Lithium-ION batteries in industrial trucks. This newer technology has many advantages, most notably its fast charging and the ability to charge ‘on the go’ rather than having to ‘charge until full’ in one go.

However, there is still widespread confusion and misunderstanding about the battery technology and its suitability for materials handling applications.

Visit our Lithium-ION Batteries page or read on for Linde Material Handling’s technical experts look at some of the myths.

L16 Lithium-ION powered pallet stacker in use

1. We do a lot of heavy lifting and battery electric machines just won’t cut it.

Lifting capacity is not an issue with modern battery-powered equipment. If the capacity plate ratings are the same as the equivalent internal combustion engine (ICE) model, so is the ability to lift heavier loads. 
Linde motors and control electronics have the highest performance capabilities, ensuring minimal power loss and maximum energy efficiency.

Our new X-series trucks, for example, are designed to match Linde Hydrostatic IC-powered truck performance.

Also, remember that although lifting consumes a lot of energy, electric units are more energy-efficient than IC units, so the only real potential pitfall is the machine’s ability to store and use that energy. This means end-users must consider whether there are sufficient opportunities to charge batteries throughout the working day.


This video provides insights on how Lithium-ION technology works and how Linde chose the right variation of the technology, based on the truck it needed to power.  

2. You can simply swap a lead-acid battery for a Lithium-ION battery to reap all the benefits.

Sure, aftermarket Lithium-ION batteries are a massive improvement on their lead-acid equivalents, but to enjoy the real benefits, you should consider factory-fitted OEM Lithium-ION batteries which have inherent advantages. 


For example, integrated batteries feature CANbus connectivity, meaning the truck’s factory BDI still works accurately, and the OEM technicians can connect to the battery and diagnose any issues via the truck software, eliminating the need to call in a 3rd party provider.

In addition, the latest generation of forklifts “designed around Lithium-ION batteries” can be more compact than lead-acid forklifts.


When considering a swap solution (lead-acid for equivalent Lithium-ION battery), users must consider if their applications allow for sufficient opportunities for charging the batteries. They also need to consider additional energy infrastructure costs such as cables and sockets capable of handling higher power draws as well as the installation of new power points closer to the working area or break rooms to avoid unnecessary travel distance to the existing lead-acid charging rooms.

3. Lithium-ION batteries are prohibitively expensive.

It is important to take a long-term view of costs. Although the initial purchase price of Lithium-ION batteries is higher than lead-acid batteries, they have a lower cost per cycle due to their increased lifetime, making them the most cost-effective solution in the long run. 


Linde’s Lithium-ION batteries, in particular, have extremely low inner resistance and the most efficient technology, which means less grid energy is wasted, resulting in 30% savings (charging and CO2 emissions) when compared to lead-acid.

So, in the long run, Lithium-ION batteries can be significantly more economical.


4. We would need to replace our whole lead-acid fleet with Lithium-ION machines.

Certainly, it often makes sense to replace the entire fleet so that operators don’t have to switch between different charging regimes and operating procedures.  It also makes sense with an ageing fleet, where there is a decision to retire all existing machines and “start again”. 


Replacement is also advisable when there’s a corporate motivation for the switch, such as a commitment to reduce overall CO2 emissions or an operational wish to remove dangerous battery changes or reduce ongoing maintenance requirements.  


But a blended fleet is possible if some trucks are not utilised enough to warrant the investment in Lithium-ION batteries and we've assisted many customers with staged rollouts.  If you do choose to run a blended fleet, you need to be aware that different chargers are generally needed for lead-acid and Lithium-ION batteries, so there might need to be clearly marked charging areas and instructions to staff. 


5. Our power supply would have to be upgraded.

Yes, chargers for Lithium-ION batteries have a higher output, which means they require a higher input current compared to lead-acid chargers. However, Linde has various battery/charger combinations available depending on the utilisation, application intensity, and available charging windows.


A small or medium-sized charger may be used with existing power points, which means peak power draws may be only marginally above that of existing lead-acid chargers.


The Linde Lithium-ION range has the option of a “normal-sized charger” that may use a similar-sized outlet and current rate to charge the battery in half the time compared to the lead-acid charger it replaces.


Another ‘trick’ is to sequence charge trucks at any time throughout the day. Lithium-ION batteries do not necessarily need one charger per truck, unlike lead-acid batteries that need to be charged at the end of a shift – all at the same time.  Staggering the charging can limit the peak power draw to less than lead-acid chargers. However, where larger chargers are required, or if a business wants to add power points closer to the working area or break rooms, this might require some investment in power supply. 


6. Our drivers would have to be retrained and change their work habits.

Agreed, there will be a need for retraining, as standard AS2359:2 operations dictate that each user should have policies for safe systems of work with supervised practice, on-the-job training, and ongoing regular fresher training. So, there are requirements for records of ongoing training to be maintained by the user in all cases.


The good news is that Lithium-ION batteries are easy to use:

  • The battery management system talks to the charger to prevent overcharging.
  • It manages power delivery to prevent over-discharge.
  • It requires no watering or equalise charging.
  • Operator must simply know how to plug it into the charger when not in use.


Our customers have found that work habits need to be changed, but this is for the better. Ongoing battery maintenance tasks are all but eliminated, as are dangerous battery changes and the risk of damaging batteries through charging misuse. Unlike lead-acid batteries, Lithium-ION batteries thrive on opportunity charging, meaning operators can charge their forklifts during breaks. And the charging process will be quicker and easier since the bonnet no longer needs to be opened to connect the charger to the truck.


7. Lithium-ION batteries are not as stable as lead-acid and represent a safety threat.

This is a common myth, but in reality, lithium-ion batteries are much safer than conventional lead-acid batteries. Even though they have a higher energy density than lead-acid batteries, Linde Lithium-ION batteries have a multi-level safety system at cell, module, and housing levels, alongside a battery management system (BMS) with comprehensive protective functions. The BMS protects against overload, overcharge, deep discharge, excess current and short circuits. 


Linde Lithium-ION batteries are developed in-house, which means the trucks have intelligent vehicle control and battery management that are perfectly integrated and aligned.  The CANbus interface enables the battery, charger, and truck to communicate as one system, ensuring optimal performance and prolonging the battery life.


Furthermore, the truck and battery are tested as one system in the development stage – something not always done with lead-acid systems.


This short video shows the rigorous testing Linde does to ensure the safety of our batteries. 

8. Lithium-ION batteries don’t last as long as lead-acid batteries.

Lithium-ION batteries have a longer cycle life, allowing them to be used effectively in applications with sufficient charging opportunities.  Because Lithium-ION electrochemistry has higher energy density and voltage stability, and less inner resistance, it leads to higher power output, increased efficiency, and fast charging capabilities.


Lithium-ION batteries are expected to last around 4,000 full cycles - in contrast to lead-acid’s 1,500 cycles.


9. Lithium-ION batteries are not suited to harsh environments.

Again this is not true. Through extensive testing, we’ve found that Lithium-ION batteries tend to outperform lead-acid batteries in rough surface environments, high-usage environments, low temperatures, and most other environments where lead-acid batteries would have struggled or not performed at all.

There are different types of Lithium-ION batteries available depending on the application and utilisation.  Because permissible operating and charging temperatures depend on each specific Lithium-ION battery group, Linde supplies datasheets and user manuals for each type, which specify the exact operating conditions.


As an idea of the maximum permissible operating environment, the Performance Plus group of Linde Lithium-ION batteries can generally operate as follows:


P+ Series


Protection class rating IP6K9K
The battery can be used both outside and in buildings.

Operating temperature

-35°C to 60°C

Charging temperature

-20°C to 45°C (at temperatures below 0°C charging times will increase)

Air humidity

0% to 100%

Storage temperature

-35°C to 80°C
A storage temperature of -10°C to 50°C is recommended to avoid reducing the service life of the battery.

Suitable for use in a cold store


Areas where there is a risk of fire or explosion



Use is possible up to a height of 2000m.

(Note: “harsh environments” is a loose term and can be applied to a multitude of different applications.  A Linde MH expert can advise on options out of the scope of the operating environments above.)


10. Lithium-ION batteries pose a serious environmental threat at the end of their life.

Despite their long service life, even Lithium-ION batteries reach the end of their performance at some point, which is why lithium-ion battery recycling centres are popping up across the globe. This means that batteries can be returned to Linde network service partners. They are then sent to a certified recycling company, with which Linde has set up a comprehensive recycling process for its Lithium-ION batteries. 


KION has formed a strategic partnership with Li-Cycle which means that up to 95% of the mass of a Lithium-ION battery can be reused and returned to the material cycle.


The good news is that unlike lead-acid batteries, Lithium-ION batteries don’t degrade with use, so a battery made using recycled Lithium-ION is just as good as a “fresh” Lithium-ION battery. So, Lithium-ION is actually a “greener” option.

Want to learn more about Lithium-ION and find out if it's right for your business? Contact us today to speak with a Linde specialist.