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“Made in Germany” Lithium-Ion Batteries: KION Battery Systems Expands Production Capacities

Electric forklift trucks and electrified warehouse trucks are becoming increasingly common sights in Europe’s warehouses. Demand for the lithium-ion batteries that power them is also steadily growing in line with this trend. To meet this demand both now and in the future, the KION Group is expanding its capacity to produce these powerful drive modules—and also working on further developments in the field of lithium-ion batteries.


A vast hall, bright strip lights, high shelving, a variety of conveyor belts, and in between these: staff busily engaged in all kinds of tasks, using a range of tools to work on an equally diverse range of battery components. “We manufacture batteries here for an extremely broad range of trucks. The configurations for the batteries are consequently also extremely varied, which means that in fact we currently place greater value on high-quality craftsmanship than on large-scale automated processes,” explains Carsten Harnisch, Vice President New Energy Systems at KION and Managing Director of KION Battery Systems GmbH (KBS). At present, no fewer than 80 employees work in production, and in research and development, at the KION battery plant in Karlstein am Main.

In the production section, the lithium-ion cells and numerous other components are assembled and wired together to make a powerful battery system. The subassemblies—such as for example the “technology container,” which houses software peripherals and supplies the battery with the “brainpower” it requires for intelligent charging—are also produced here. These constitute essential elements of the battery systems, which eventually take the form of solid black boxes installed in all sorts of forklifts, industrial trucks, and warehouse trucks. Yet these unassuming black blocks conceal nothing less than the future of comprehensive and sustainable intralogistics.

With the commissioning of the second production line, up to 30,000 batteries can be manufactured annually in the spacious production hall.

Growing Demand for Sustainable Intralogistics Solutions

Since 2019, the 4,000-square-meter production hall has turned out thousands of 48- and 80-volt batteries for counterbalanced trucks annually—mostly for Linde Material Handling and STILL, which are both KION Group brands. In the process, the KION Group has been constantly expanding its capacities to satisfy the growing demand for sustainable intralogistics solutions. “Forklifts with lithium-ion drives are not only emissions-free, but can also hold their own effortlessly against their combustion engine counterparts. Therefore lithium-ion technology represents one of the best routes, alongside hydrogen power, towards resource-saving intralogistics. That is why the KION Group is putting a significant amount of its expertise and capacities into KBS,” notes Harnisch.

Lithium-Ion Batteries: Highly Efficient Technology With Many Advantages

The advanced batteries offer many advantages, making them a more sustainable and more cost-efficient alternative drive system. The lithium-ion batteries have a much greater power density and level of efficiency compared to lead-acid batteries, for example. The batteries are not only smaller, but also help cut energy costs by up to 30% while offering the same performance. What’s more, there’s no need to replace the batteries, nor do they require servicing. Lithium-ion batteries can be recharged anytime when not in use, making them perfect for multi-shift operation. When it comes to sustainability, the batteries really come into their own, because they don’t give off any emissions when running. Their cleanliness makes them particularly suitable for sectors that have high hygiene requirements, e.g., in the food or pharmaceutical sectors. The benefits of the latest generation of batteries are clear for all to see and they offer the same level of performance as internal combustion forklift trucks, even in hard, multi-shift applications with heavy loads, such as in the construction materials sector.

Up to 30,000 Batteries Manufactured In-House Every Year

The growing demand for electric forklift trucks and electrified warehouse trucks has been evident to the KION Group for years: In the financial year 2021, incoming orders for electrically powered trucks set a new record of 87 percent of the total volume in the forklift segment. In order to even further enhance its ability to meet demand, KION Battery Systems is now opening another production line, on which 24-volt batteries for use in electrified warehouse trucks are to be manufactured. Once the second production line is in operation, KION Battery Systems anticipates that it will be able to manufacture up to 30,000 batteries per year.

KION Battery Systems occupies an important position within the KION Group energy portfolio. “With the new production line, we hope to be able to optimally satisfy the constantly increasing demand for modern lithium-ion batteries. By manufacturing batteries in-house, we are also able to offer our customers excellent reliability of supply in a time of fragile supply chains,” explains Harnisch.

High-performance lithium-ion batteries for counterbalanced trucks of the KION brands STILL and Linde Material Handling have been produced on the first production line since 2019.

Battery Reconditioning: A New Lease Of Life

In addition to manufacturing, a range of research and development activities also take place in Karlstein. This work is not only centered on designing new proprietary energy systems but also on the use of batteries at the end of their first lifecycle—and beyond. The KION New Energy Systems team, whose activities are focused here in Karlstein, has now reached a first milestone in the reprocessing of lithium-ion batteries: Since the beginning of the year, lithium-ion batteries that had been used in forklift trucks from Linde Rental Services have been successfully refurbished and used in new forklift trucks. “This flagship project is providing us with valuable experience of how we can feasibly re-use batteries in a second lifecycle for the benefit of our customers. And the further we can extend the overall lifespan of a battery, the more we reduce their total CO2 footprint, and the more sustainable the entire technology becomes,” comments Harnisch.