Forklift Review: Hyster J2.5XN

By: Ricky French

The Hyster J2.5XN battery-electric forklift gives its fossil fuel-powered cousins a run for their money

Forklift Review: Hyster J2.5XN
Adaptalift Hyster forklift.


Battery-electric forklifts are fast catching LPG in terms of performance, practicality and overall cost of ownership and with the new Hyster J2.5XN, and its relatives, there’s every reason for thinking they may have just nudged in front.

The same technology is shared from the Hyster J2.0XN right through to the J5.0XN; the difference being the J2.5XN and upwards operate on an 80-volt system, which should convert to give you up to and over 60kW of power.

A fully charged battery will last at least two shifts, before needing an eight-hour charge. Another option is to top-up the battery via a rapid-charge charger, which can be used through the week, before giving it a full charge at the end of the week.

Hyster battery-electric forklifts are designed to be able to work anywhere an LPG forklift can, be it dusty, wet, indoors or outdoors.



The forklifts run two independent AC motors: a hydraulic motor and a steer motor.

It’s quite a torquey system, and one which should in theory eliminate much maintenance.

With no wearing parts you shouldn’t need to touch the motors, or even the brakes (‘wet’ oil disc brakes that should last the life of the truck and never need servicing).

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The batteries will need to be well-watered, once a week. Customers can choose to option an automatic battery watering system — a nifty plug-in hose attached to the battery power leads that you hook up to your water supply, thereby ensuring batteries get a drink as they get charged. With businesses factoring in cost of ownership over a piece of equipment’s entire life, the extra money you pay for this modern machine up front could be recovered in a few ways.

First, buying this battery-electric means you’re paying for five years’ petrol up-front. Second, servicing and maintenance could become almost obsolete, which might be bad news for mechanics, but welcome news for those who hold the purse-strings.

There are no filters; nothing to change. It claims to be a maintenance-free truck.

Of course, the real maintenance comes from fixing superficial damage, dents from dings, ripped seats, etc. Because the motors act fully independently there’s no clutch and no diff.

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You can’t spin the tyres on the Hyster J2.5XN, you can’t throw the truck forward as you floor it along the warehouse in reverse. Ram control means no need for a park brake, either.

As soon as you take your foot off the accelerator the forklift slows down and the park brake clicks on, then clicks off again when you put your foot back on the accelerator. This is part of the regenerative braking (which you can dial up or down depending on the structure and fragility of your load) and the intended result is less wear and tear on the brakes, as well as safety.

The forklift will stop on its own accord, even on a slope, if no one is depressing the accelerator or is occupying the seat.

Drive-wise, the Hyster J2.5XN forklift features Hyster Stability Mechanism (HSM), which makes auto-adjustments to your speed, to prevent rollover as well as engine wear.

I experimented by driving straight ahead at full speed and then throwing the forklift into a 90-degree turn. The forklift slowed itself down going into the turn and then powered up again going out. It is part of the regenerative braking system, and it also serves to create a drip-feed of energy back into the battery as you slow down.

Then there’s the CANbus wiring system, which looks after all the thermal management, meaning the forklift will know when it’s getting hot and turn itself down to a lower mode of power (and all the way until it shuts itself off if need be).

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Cab and Controls

Controls for all fork operations are situated at the end of the right armrest, so you feel like you have a bionic arm, or are driving a high-powered, super-useful mobility scooter. All lift and tilting speeds are fully adjustable, so you can set up the forklift for your needs and environment.

Out the front vision is good, even for a three-stage mast. It’s a narrow mast, which means especially good vision down the sides so you can clearly see the edges of your pallet or load. It’s also a very high-rating mast due to the thick steel, and the rating capacity doesn’t drop much at full height (on the 2-tonne truck it de-rates only 400kg at full height).

The lift is very rigid, with little sway. There is no oversized concrete counterweight at the back; the counterweight is the battery itself, so there’s a more centralised centre of gravity.

This equates to good vision out the back and no dangerously-swinging concrete rear-end.



An industry focus on fleet-management has meant Adaptalift Hyster has installed a system called ForkTrack; the brainchild of Nathan McKenzie, CEO of subsidiary company Speedshield.

ForkTrack aims to be a complete fleet-management system that makes both man and machine accountable to the company for their actions.

With ForkTrack every operator has their own swipe card. Once swiped, the digital display will prompt you to confirm all pre-operation checks have been carried out, before choosing one of four performance parameters.

If the operator sees a problem he can punch in a code and a report will be sent instantly to a designated person.

ForkTrack sees everything you do. Impactsensing means it will dob you in if you have a prang. It will also be wise to drivers who are constantly getting out of the seat or overloading the forks.

ForkTrack also takes care of important indicators such as speed-controlling, lift-height speed reduction, stability control, battery charging, hour-metering and more.

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With its high-tech, state-of-the-art fleet-management systems and self-aware forklifts, Adaptalift Hyster is clearly targeting the big players who understand the need to invest wisely in their machines.

If you’re after a simple, knockabout forklift to plough through your wrecking yard, or if you’re a small business on a tight budget then these aren’t going to be for you. But for those serious about getting ahead of the field and setting a high standard of professionalism, and have the budget to do so, you’ll be investing in so much more than just a great forklift.



Make/model: Hyster J2.5XN Advance

Overall length: 3,321mm

Overall width: 1,173mm

Tyre size: Front: 23x10-12 Rear: 18x7-8

Maximum load: 2,500kg

Mast height, lowered: 2,192mm

Mast height, extended: 3,960mm

Length from face to forks: 2,321mm

Fork dimensions (mm): 40/100/1000

Mast tilt: Forward/backwards 5 degrees

Maximum grade ability: 35 per cent (without load) 24 per cent (with load)

Turning radius: 1,931mm (outer) 173mm (inner)

Wheelbase: 1,606mm

Ground clearance: 137mm at centre of wheelbase

Dry machine weight: 4,465kg

Drive motor rating, S2, 60 min: 2x10kW

Lifting motor rating, S3 15 per cent: 16kW

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