Strategy of the KION Group

Objectives of the KION 2027 strategy

The KION Group forged ahead with the implementation of its KION 2027 strategy during the reporting year. The KION 2027 strategy provides the framework for profitable growth in the Group and specifies groupwide targets. The strategy is aligned with the KION Group’s vision: “We are the best company in the world at understanding our customers’ material handling needs and providing the right solutions.”

The KION 2027 strategy provides the framework in the Group and sets groupwide targets:

  • Growth: The KION Group aims to grow at a faster rate than the global material handling market by evolving into a solutions provider in both segments. The medium-term target is consolidated revenue of over €12 billion in 2023, to which the Industrial Trucks & Services is to contribute more than €7.5 billion and the Supply Chain Solutions segment more than €4.5 billion.
  • Profitability: The KION Group wants to retain its position as one of the most profitable suppliers in the industry and improve its adjusted EBIT margin to between 10 percent and 12 percent in 2023. Also in 2023, the Industrial Trucks & Services segment is aiming for an adjusted EBIT margin of over 10 percent while the Supply Chain Solutions is targeting a range of 12 percent to 14 percent.
  • Efficient use of capital: The KION Group continually strives to optimize the return on capital employed (ROCE). Besides increasing earnings, the focus here is on asset management and efficient use of capital.
  • Resilience: Profitability throughout the various market cycles is to be guaranteed by a robust business model. This will involve greater diversification in terms of regions and customer sectors alongside efforts to expand the service business and further optimize the production network.

Strategic fields of action and measures in  2021

Six fields of action have been defined for the KION 2027 strategy – energy, digitalization, automation, innovation, performance and, since 2021, sustainability – for which a wide range of strategic measures were implemented in 2021. Once again, there was also a focus on capital expenditure aimed at enduringly strengthening the position of the KION Group in the market.


The KION Group continually develops its products and solutions so that its customers are able to use energy as efficiently and sustainably as possible. Electric-powered forklift trucks and warehouse trucks already made up around 87 percent of order intake (in terms of units) in the KION Group’s Industrial Trucks & Services segment in 2021. The strategy is focused on the development and commercialization of new energy sources, such as lithium-ion batteries and fuel cells, for industrial trucks and on related services, such as the provision of advice on energy matters.

Crucial to this strategic approach is ensuring the long-term availability of lithium-ion batteries while reducing dependence on suppliers. For the joint venture KION Battery Systems GmbH, 2021 was the first full year of manufacturing lithium-ion batteries for the KION Group’s industrial trucks. It also extended the range of production series to supply batteries for a greater number of trucks and power classes. In parallel, further improvements were made to the performance and robustness of electric forklift trucks, including those in higher load ranges. Preparations are under way for the production of lithium-ion batteries for warehouse trucks (see ‘Research and development’). In October 2021, the KION Group acquired a minority stake in ifesca GmbH, based in Ilmenau, Germany, which means it will be able to offer customers a fully integrated AI-based solution for energy management in the future.


The KION Group is gearing its business to customers’ increasingly digitalized processes in order to improve their intralogistics efficiency. The digitalization of customer solutions – including through the use of the proprietary warehouse management system Dematic iQ – is being accompanied by the digitalization of internal processes and resulting improvements in performance. The KION Group is not only integrating software into its solutions but also increasingly marketing software solutions as standalone products. Internal organizational structures are also being modernized in order to pave the way for agile development and embed it across the Group.

The focus in 2021 was on digital solutions for warehouse automation. Dematic teamed up with STILL and Linde Material Handling to launch Conveyor ConfiKIT, an online tool for configuring conveyor technology systems. Linde Warehouse Navigator, a new warehouse management system, supports the automation of various intralogistics functions for small and medium-sized enterprises. In addition, the KION Group and its STILL brand company were involved in the joint project of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) and the German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA), contributing their expertise to a digital interface that enables AGVs and control software supplied by different manufacturers to communicate with each other.


In the field of automation, the KION Group offers customized and scalable solutions for a wide range of customer requirements, from single forklift trucks to end-to-end mobile automation solutions and fully automated large-scale warehouses. These are helping customers move closer to the goal of a ‘lights-out’ warehouse.

In 2021, Dematic enhanced its end-to-end warehouse automation solutions and implemented them for its customers, which included an international retail chain. Incorporating a climate-regulated high-bay storage facility and a clothes hanging system that can accommodate up to two million garments and transport up to 15,000 totes to the picking stations per hour, this is the biggest warehouse that Dematic has installed so far.

The strategic partnership with Quicktron (Shanghai), which was agreed upon in 2020 and underpinned by the acquisition of a minority stake, has significantly expanded the portfolio of AMRs of Dematic, Linde, and STILL. The software interfaces are standardized, ensuring seamless interaction with the warehouse management and control systems. The registration process for the next model, M100, began in December 2021. Finally, STILL developed the autonomous horizontal order picker OPX iGo neo for efficient process automation as part of a research project.


The KION Group develops technologies on a cross-segment basis and in doing so drives forward innovation in the material handling market. It continued to invest significantly in research and development in 2021, at a rate of 2.7 percent of revenue.

In addition to efficient development processes, the KION Group also works with an effective innovation ecosystem. To this end, it partners with research institutes, universities, and companies so that it can go to market with new products and solutions within a short space of time. As part of this, the KION Group is involved in government-supported research and development projects, such as the use of mobile robotics solutions in the retail sector. In September, the KION Group joined forces with the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics (IML) to establish a joint Enterprise Lab in which the autonomous vehicle swarm known as LoadRunner is being developed to market-readiness. The KION Group also obtained a license to use IML’s LoadRunner technology internationally.


The KION Group intends to continually improve internal efficiency, optimize the performance of its products from a customer perspective, and fully leverage synergies.

With the capacity and structural program begun in 2020 largely complete, the Industrial Trucks & Services segment focused on developing a global platform for the value segment in the reporting year. At the heart of this is a modular platform that will make it possible to manufacture more cost-effectively and thus achieve greater price competitiveness. In the years ahead, around 50 variants of diesel and electric forklift trucks will be built on the platform, using standard components wherever possible. This will also reduce the time needed for servicing. Production of the new product types in the load capacity range of 2–2.5 tonnes, which constitute the bulk of the volume segment, got under way in 2021. All of the electric forklift trucks from the new range can be fitted with lithium-ion batteries.

In November 2021, the KION Group announced to relocate the production of STILL reach trucks from Hamburg to Stříbro in the Czech Republic. This will free up capacity at the Hamburg plant for new product variants. Automation of the assembly process for automated pallet trucks at the Châtellerault plant in France is also helping to make production faster and more cost-effective. Automated production is due to begin in the spring of 2022.

The Supply Chain Solutions segment is also driving the scalability of products and solutions by refining its subsystems and standard modules. This will have a positive impact on costs and efficiency and give the segment a competitive edge in terms of quality and sustainability.


Acting sustainably and responsibly is one of the key principles by which the KION Group operates. The Group’s focus on sustainability is reflected in its efforts to manufacture products that are as eco-friendly and safe as possible, to use climate- and environmentally friendly manufacturing processes, and to provide a safe and non-discriminatory working environment. Sustainability, which is enshrined in the KION 2027 strategy, was designated a separate field of action in 2021. It includes further-reaching objectives and initiatives focusing on people, products, and processes that will be defined in more detail in 2022.

In the reporting year, verifiable ESG targets were incorporated into the Executive Board remuneration system, covering categories such as occupational health and safety, certification of environmental management systems, external evaluation of the KION Group’s sustainability performance, and attractiveness as an employer. From a product perspective, the focus was on the ongoing development of energy-efficient solutions.

In October, the KION Group entered into an agreement with banks for a revolving credit facility linked to ESG criteria for the first time.

Further information can be found in the section ‘Non-financial performance indicators – Sustainability’ and, in particular, in the Group’s 2021 sustainability report, which will be published in April 2022.

Major projects

Capital expenditure aimed at enduringly strengthening the position of the KION Group in the market was primarily focused on the growth regions of the global material handling market, above all Asia and eastern Europe. At the new counterbalance truck plant in Jinan, in China’s Shandong province, pre-production started in December 2021, followed by the launch of regular production in February 2022. In July 2021, the KION Group began building industrial trucks at its new plant in Kołbaskowo, Poland. The additional capacity should help the Group to strengthen its position in the attractive value segment. In December 2021, the KION Group also commenced construction of a plant for supply chain solutions in Jinan that is scheduled to come on stream in the first quarter of 2023. These organic growth projects were complemented by strategic acquisitions. For example, the KION Group began the process of acquiring 49.0 percent of the shares in a leading provider of warehouse and supply chain automation solutions in India. Focusing on sustainability and doing business responsibly represent one of the key principles by which the KION Group operates.