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Forklift prices look set to rise in the United States.

Speculation is mounting after Crown Equipment Corporation announced it “will implement a price increase effective September 4, 2018”. There’s no indication yet of the size of that increase, nor whether it will be uniform across the range.

Pending price increases are not unexpected, especially in the wake of last month’s introduction of new tariffs on a range of imports from China, including forklifts and forklift parts. These imposts augment recently imposed tariffs on steel and aluminium imports – raw materials heavily used in forklift manufacture.

The major importers of Chinese forklifts are being forced to increase prices, many not able to absorb the full 25% tariff. And while many importers had stocked up ahead of the tariff implementation, inventories are believed to be running thin, with new imports burdened with higher costs.

Meanwhile, the increased cost of steel and aluminium is also reportedly starting to impact, with producers like motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson warning that tariffs will probably push up costs for all of its products. Insiders say major materials handling manufacturers are subject to the same pressures and will be increasingly impacted as their material stockpiles are reduced.

In May, before the imposition of the tariffs, Brett Wood, president and CEO of Toyota Material Handling North America, told Forkliftaction News of his fears around the measures. Even though TMHU buys steel – and lots of it – in the US, Wood predicted that prices will go up. “So now you’re penalising someone who already is loyal to the US … and that price increase will get passed on to the consumer.”

While most manufacturers are remaining tight-lipped about their pricing strategies, many will be forced to act when Crown shows its hand next month.

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