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Toyota’s vision for the future of truck design

27 July 2020

Toyota has applied an innovative design approach that goes beyond current standards when introducing lithium-ion batteries to forklifts.

With Toyota Material Handling’s goal to lead in this area, they applied an agile approach to adapt to the new developments in battery chemistry and software and how they are combined. It’s key to be as flexible as possible and to be able to adapt to the new possibilities that these developments bring.

Presenting the RED design concept

Toyota Material Handling has started its RED project to set out a vision for the future of truck design. RED stands for Radical Energy Design, which is at the heart of the new design concept. By building lithium-ion battery solutions with modules, which are assembled in-house at Toyota, forklift design can be revolutionised. The thinking behind the RED-project is to eliminate the battery box and find alternative locations for the individual energy modules. This provides the freedom to completely redesign the truck.

Toyota’s design team has spent time making the first truck redesign compact and perfecting the details, setting new standards in the industry. Simplicity is having the courage of eliminating rather than adding, which has been the motto in the design of the new BT Levio LWI160 powered pallet truck. The entire layout of the truck has been optimised by removing the traditional battery tank to facilitate an optimal fit of all components. This first example of the modularised concept introduces a new generation of low-lifter warehouse trucks, marking the start of a new design direction.

User benefits

Designing a truck is about putting the human being at the centre: the human dimension. The advantage of locating the modules where space is available makes the truck smaller, lighter, and more energy-efficient. The reduction in size improves driveability as well as flexibility. The centre of gravity can also be moved to enhance performance and ensure the best stability and traction. Without compromising on performance, energy efficiency can be enhanced. The modularised li-ion battery solution offers easy and fast charging as well as customised energy solutions. The compact size offers easy manoeuvring and is perfect for confined spaces and use on-board delivery vehicles. By placing the tiller arm centrally, the driver has unrestricted visibility, making the truck user-friendly, safe and intuitive.  


This vision goes beyond delivering one new truck design, with the focus on standardisation of the entire product range. Previously the industry has been focusing on a wide range of specifications among varying battery capacities, lift heights and working environments. Now the time has come to apply the new design and simplify the offer. By doing this, Toyota creates flexibility, an advantage that will only become more important in the future. For example, in unprecedented times like these, the new design allows for trucks being flexible enough to switch between sites, which is essential when demand is changing quickly.

During the next few years, the plan is to develop the design further and apply it to more models in this new generation. This is just the start of a new era allowing Toyota to build further on the same approach. It enables future designs to be optimises and offers customers an even better solution for their material handling operations.
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