One the most significant aspects of the Essential range launched by Kalmar in late November 2017 is that it encompasses reachstackers, empty container handlers and forklifts in a single product family for the first time.

The Essential range machines are built on Kalmar’s G-Generation platform, delivering vehicles that are reliable, robust and efficient - available with either EU3/Tier 3 or EU4/Tier 4F emissions standards compliant engines.

The lifting capacities of the forklifts range from 10-18 tons, the empty container handlers have lifting capacities of between eight and 10 tonnes, and the reachstackers are available with lifting capacities from 45-57 tonnes, making them suitable for a variety of container handling or industrial applications.

Drivers have access to a choice of joysticks and common electronics and controls across the entire range for ease of operation. Improved load sensing hydraulics increase lift efficiency and easily accessible service points and extended servicing periods make maintenance tasks quicker and easier to perform, boosting machine availability.

Far Eastern influences

Alf-Gunnar Karlgren, Sales and Marketing Director for Kalmar reachstackers & empty container handlers notes that market developments in the Far East initially influenced the decision to offer machines at a lower price point.

“The Asian market has become increasingly price sensitive and with the emergence of new manufacturers there was a need to offer machines with more modest specifications,” he says. “We started this process about 10 years ago with our T-Series, which generated increased sales volumes and convinced us that there was a market for ‘leaner’ machines alongside our regular range of products.”

Shift in global trends

Previously, the lower specification machines have only been available to customers in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and South America. However, global market trends have shifted - Kalmar has noted that interest in its high end products with slightly higher price tag but lower operational costs has grown in these markets, while demand in North America and Europe has slightly softened.

“We now have customers in Asia who have purchased our Gloria reachstacker with K-motion fuel-saving technology and Tier 4F emissions standards compliant engines,” explains Karlgren. “Meanwhile, some European and North American customers who would previously have purchased high end range of machines with a range of additional features and options to choose from are centralising their procurement, focusing more on capital costs than total cost of ownership. For this client segment the Essential range is an ideal choice.”

According to Peter Ivarsson, Director, Forklift Trucks at Kalmar, the Essential range has a vital role to play in expanding the market coverage of Kalmar forklifts beyond its traditional stronghold of the Nordic countries.

“Customers in other parts of the world want a lower specification machine that doesn’t compromise on build quality,” he says. “The working environment in southern Europe may be very different to that of northern Scandinavia, for example, which means that the customer may not have the same productivity or ergonomic requirements.”

"Because every customer is different"

Karlgren accepts that the shift within certain customer segments towards placing more emphasis on the cost of the machine value may not be a long term trend. However, in the short term it represents a challenge to promoting premium products, even when they are highly efficient in terms of fuel consumption and other running costs. “Every customer is different, so we need to be flexible as a supplier of equipment,” he adds.

Ivarsson says the Essential range is expected to prove particularly popular among equipment rental companies. “We have already received orders from areas where we have not had a high level of business in the past,” he concludes.