750,000 Linde trucks built

Linde Material Handling celebrates a milestone at its main plant in Aschaffenburg, Germany

In 1959, the first forklift truck built by Linde Material Handling (MH) in Aschaffenburg left the production hall. 55 years later—on 29 August 2014—Europe’s leading truck manufacturer celebrated a special anniversary at its main plant: Staff on the production line assembled the 750,000th truck — an electric counterbalance truck with a load capacity of five tonnes. The future owner of the truck is the BMW Group, which will use the Linde E50—equipped with cab, heating system, BlueSpot and 2.30-metre-long fork arms—for loading and unloading lorries in its components plant in Wackersdorf, Upper Palatinate.

The first model built in Aschaffenburg and brought to market was the Hubtrac — the forbear of all Linde trucks. To begin with, the number of this truck model produced was rather modest, amounting to a few hundred trucks in the first few years — of which about one fifth were already being sold outside of Germany. But demand increased year after year: The truck models—driven by a diesel engine and featuring a load capacity of 2–2.5 tonnes—became extremely popular due to their precise, efficient hydrostatic gearbox, the dual-pedal controls and the central control levers.

Framed between the first Linde forklift truck (Hubtrac) and the 750,000th in Aschaffenburg built Linde forklift truck – Christophe Lautray, Chief Sales Officer of Linde MH, symbolically handed over the key to Robert Limmer from automobile manufacturer BMW Group (from left): Roland Hartwig, Vice President Operations Aschaffenburg, Sabine Neuß (COO Linde MH) and Christophe Lautray (CSO Linde MH), Robert Limmer und Thomas Kufner (BMW Group) as well as Theodor Maurer, CEO Linde MH.

In 1970—a year after management had completely abandoned tractor production within the space of a few weeks—well over 2000 trucks were already being produced every year. Growth accelerated when, at the beginning of the 1970s, the first electric counterbalance trucks were added to the production programme of the company speeding up further as the model range was extended in the following years. In 1982, the range of diesel trucks already included four different series, with models featuring a load capacity of between 1.2 and 7 tonnes. On the electric forklift trucks, the load capacity ranged from 1.2 to 3 tonnes.

Introduced in 1985, the diesel truck series 351 made a decisive contribution to the overall success of the company and was positioned in the “premium class” of between 2 and 3.5 tonnes. Up to 2001, 100,000 units of these models alone were assembled in Aschaffenburg. This achievement saw Linde receive the accolade of manufacturing “Europe’s most produced truck” and secured the company’s position as market leader in the region in terms of trucks driven by an internal combustion engine. The next generation of trucks—the 39X diesel and LPG trucks launched in 2002—also ensured the continuation of this success story.

At the same time, the proportion of trucks manufactured in Aschaffenburg that featured an electric drive increased. Despite the number of trucks with an internal combustion engine far outweighing the number of those with an electric drive for a long time, the situation has changed in the past decade and now the proportion of each has more or less balanced out. “In terms of production, we believe that Linde has now become the market leader in Europe for this segment, too”, explained Sabine Neuß, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Linde MH, during the ceremony. “By making investments worth about 60 million euro by 2021, we will expand our production capacity at the Aschaffenburg site in the medium time and simultaneously optimise our processes even further.”

According to Sabine Neuß, Chief Operations Officer (COO) Linde Material Handling, the company will invest a substantially amount of money in the Aschaffenburg production site in the coming years.

Featuring a load capacity of five tonnes, the anniversary truck is part of the current range of Linde models equipped with an electric drive and is not only used in the automotive industry: It also has applications in the food and beverage industry, building-material trade and chemical industry. Its special features are the twin-motor front-wheel drive, the combi steering axle, the compact drive axle with integrated power modules that uncouples via spring arms, as well as the traction control fitted as standard and the handbrake that applies automatically. Together with three different output modules and the optional high-frequency on-board charger, the trucks are efficient, economical and comfortable.

The BMW Group is a long-standing customer of Linde MH and its distribution partner Gruma Fördertechnik GmbH.

Ceremonial hand-over of keys of the 750,000th forklift truck built by Linde Material Handling in Aschaffenburg on 29th of August 2014 (from left): Roland Hartwig, Vice Presi-dent Operations Aschaffenburg, Sabine Neuß (COO Linde MH) and Christophe Lautray (CSO Linde MH), Robert Limmer und Thomas Kufner (BMW Group) as well as Theodor Maurer, CEO Linde MH.