New Forklift Segment Opens Possibilities
EP Equipment wakes up the forklift market with the EP EFL 181: an entry level forklift, a new segment in our forklift truck test. With a price below €20,000 including maintenance-free lithium-ion battery, the EFL 181 offers all the basic features you expect from a forklift truck in light to moderate duty applications.
Compact, easy to operate and strong enough for loads up to 1,800 kg. Application area: light to moderate work such as loading/unloading those few trucks per day or common services in the warehouse or workshop. And thanks to its large front wheels and closed electrical system, the EFL 181 doesn’t shy away from the outside world. Even if it’s a little wet.
With the EP EFL 181, EP Equipment is tapping into a new forklift segment. Not every user needs a truck that operates 24/7, moves the heaviest loads continuously for hours, and for which every second counts. In the past these applications have been carried out by used equipment and in many cases IC, Diesel powered trucks. But Diesel trucks are expensive in running costs, environmentally problematic and cannot be used indoors.
That’s exactly what EP responds to with the EFL 181. With a very competitive pricing and safe, maintenance-free lithium-ion technology on board, as well as an onboard charger for flexibility in the daily usage. How does the Chinese manufacturer do that? By keeping the rest of the technology simple, not putting driving and lifting performance first and limiting the battery size. The question is whether you really notice this during use…
Yes, you’ll notice during use that the EP Equipment EFL 181 is a little more shy than other 48V forklifts in the class up to 2 tons lifting capacity. Acceleration is a little slower, the laden travel speed just reaches 10 km/hour and the lift speed with load at 25.5 cm/sec is also a little slower. Add all these facts together in our consumption and performance measurement, and the EFL’s productivity is 13.3% lower than the average of the 1.5-1.8 ton trucks we tested before. We believe that, that this performance is sufficient for most users with a couple of hours working time per day who do not have the requirement to shift pallets at the highest possible rate.
The limited size of the li-ion battery provides a practical usage time of 2.5 hours. If you want to drive longer, you need to recharge it in the meantime. This is very safe thanks to the li-ion technique. Moreover, it is super simple. Through the opening on the front of the battery compartment you take the 230V plug and plug it into an ordinary socket. That’s all, you don’t have to worry about anything else. An almost empty battery is according to EP Equipment completely full again in around 3 hours. With an occasional 15 minutes or an hour of recharging, the EP EFL 181 is ready for you all day long.
When you get to work with the truck, you’ll notice that getting on and off the truck is easy thanks to the spacious step. The long handle provides the right grip, and the seat can also be used as a handle. Once on the seat (with operator weight adjustment) you notice that the foot space is very generous because the battery space is kept so small. The whole truck is very compact in size, fine for working in tight spaces. The steering column is stepless adjustable and the steering control is light and very predictable. The truck is effortless to keep on course, although you don’t have to go to extremes with the weight of the load. In that case, the truck slides a little over its steering wheels when reversing.
Mast and Hydraulics
The mast is operated by conventional mechanical levers placed on the dashboard. The stroke is quite long and should be a bit shorter for comfort. Fortunately, the working area of the lever is predictable. The test truck is equipped with a three-stage 4,800 mm mast with free lift, integrated sideshift and load backrest. The lower transverse connection of the backrest is placed at an angle to keep the visibility as good as possible. We measure a blind spot of 50 cm on this truck, which is in line with the market. The mast damping is very good: both with and without load, the outgoing and incoming movement is completely shock free.
For braking, the EP EFL 181 has conventional mechanical drum brakes. The parking brake is equally well known: a simple lever with a push button. Both brake functions work as expected.
Indeed, this ‘entry level’ forklift promises what you expect from a forklift truck. EP also equips it pretty complete with all-round lighting, mirror, a beacon and handle with horn for comfortable and safe reversing. Are there any drawbacks, other than the simple setup and mechanics?
Yes, there are. The storage space on the truck is limited to a cup holder and a compartment for a pen to the right side of the seat. The closure of the battery cover is sometimes felt in the calf bone and the weight distribution is kept in favour of the compact construction rather than the stability. According to the specification sheet, 9% at full load remains on the rear axle, which is just a little too little. As a result of this we experience the sliding over the steering wheels when reversing with a heavier load on the fork.
EP Equipment brings the EP EFL 181 to the market with a highly attractive price tag. Entry level’ is what they call it, and that’s actually just what it is. The truck offers everything you expect from a forklift truck that you use every now and then during the day. The operation is predictable, simple and sufficient. The performance matches the application goal. Great power also lies in the complete equipment, the on board 230V charger and the maintenance-free and safe lithium-ion technology.
Points of improvement are the battery closure, the rather long stroke of the hydraulic levers, the storage space and weight balance when using heavier mast types.
The tested EP EFL 181 with 1,800 kg carrying capacity, 48 Volt / 160 Ah battery and charger, three-stage 4.800 mm mast, sideshift, Super Elastic (SE) tyres and lighting is available under 20,000 Euro.
- Price tag
- Maintenance-free battery technology with interim charging
- Simple operation
- Weight balance when using heavier mast types
- Stroke of the hydraulic levers
- Battery cover closure
- Storage options