Forklift Review: Mitsubishi RBF16CA

By: Andrew Norton

Mitsubishi offers an electrifying materials handling counterpoint to reach-stacking vehicles

Forklift Review: Mitsubishi RBF16CA
Mitsubishi RBF16CA forklift.


Mitsubishi’s 1.6-tonne RBF16CA has every operator feature you need in an electric reach truck. MLA might describe it as a no frills model but frankly there was nothing basic about it.

The RBF16CA is middle of the range of three electric reach trucks from 1.4 to 2 tonnes. All have brushless AC drive motors that not only provide more torque than DC units but are more reliable.

Unlike counterbalance forklifts, the motor is connected directly to the single drive wheel and can rotate 360 degrees, making these trucks way more manoeuvrable.

Compared to a counterbalance truck, the RBF16CA is incredibly compact.

A well-positioned grab handle and two-stage step into the driving position make access very easy.


Cab and Controls

The suspension seat is adjustable forwards and backwards and next to the tiny steering wheel with knob is an instrument panel that displays travelling direction and speed, battery discharge status, current time and total operating hours.

A ‘dead man’ pedal next to the brake pedal automatically engages the parking brake when released. Three driving modes (normal, economy and power) are provided so new operators can be gradually trained up.

To the right of the driver’s seat are the direction switch and four toggle switches for mast raise and lower, mast in or out, mast rake and fork side shift.

To the right of this cluster is a stop button that must be raised and the key switch turned on to re-start the machine.

A tray ahead of this holds documents and there’s a drink holder to the left. Next to the seat back is a recess for holding a mobile phone.

Turning the key switch activates the extraction fan cooling system for the motor and pumps. Foot on the dead man pedal and the truck is ready for action.

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There are two ways of driving the truck, one is to use the forward/reverse switch and the other is to spin the steering wheel.

As the drive motor rotates 360 degrees, leaving the direction switch in forward and spinning the wheel (using the dash-mounted direction indicator as a guide) the truck can go from forward to reverse without touching the direction switch.

The mast control toggle switches were a delight to use and very responsive compared to the normal levers found in counterbalance trucks and even with the pallet that high the truck was completely stable.

Having the chain offset made a big difference to judging where the forks and pallet were in relation to the stack.

The suspension seat dialled up to maximum bulk was so supportive. And how nice not to have an internal combustion engine thumping away behind me. The only noise when not moving or raising or lowering the mast was the motor and pumps cooling fan.

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Regular maintenance intervals are every 300 hours when grease points need to be topped up and the chain greased. The AC drive motor is sealed and requires no maintenance for the life of it.

With the key switch on and flicking a switch to the right of the driver’s seat the entire battery pack slides out with the mast.

The standard battery pack is a 48-volt 360-420 amp/hour lead acid unit but the demo truck had a 480-560 unit weighing 1,165kg.

This provides enough charge for around 5.5 hours of continuous operation but can be charged in eight hours using a three-phase 20A socket, usually on much lower overnight electricity rates using the switch mode power supply charger supplied.

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The RBF16CA has everything an operator needs to make a factory shift seem to go that much faster.

Buyers must be impressed too because the first run of units imported had all been sold after just brief demo drives the day before I tested the RBF16CA.



Make/model: Mitsubishi RBF16CA

Maximum load: 1.6 tonnes at 6.5m / 1.25 tonnes at 8m

Load centre: 600mm

Maximum lift height: 6,000mm

Free lift: 1,765mm

Tilt angle fork: 2 degrees downward/ 5 degrees upward

Fork length: 1,070mm

Spread: 715mm maximum

Overall mast height: 2,665mm lowered, 6,900 extended

Mast reach stroke: 655mm

Lifting speed: 370mm per second laden

Lowering speed: 500mm per second laden

Minimum turning radius: 1,705mm

Minimum 90 degree turning aisle: 1,870mm with 1,200x800mm pallet

Minimum 90 degree stacking aisle: 2,535mm with 1,200x800mm pallet

Wheelbase: 1,450mm

Overall length: 2,280mm

Overall width: 1,270mm

Ground clearance: 70mm

Tyres (drive): 330x145mm urethane (1)

Tyres (load): 254x114mm urethane (2)

Travel speed: 12km/h laden/ unladen

Gradeability: 10 degrees laden

Service weight: 2,415kg dry without battery

Drive motor: AC 6kW at 60 minutes rating

Hydraulic motor: 12kW at five minutes rating

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