Research and development

Total spending on research and development, including capitalized development costs, went up by 4.5 percent year on year to reach €127.9 million (H1 2020: €122.4 million), which equates to 2.6 percent of revenue (H1 2020: 3.1 percent). R&D costs totaling €86.3 million were expensed in the income statement (H1 2020: €77.7 million). There were also amortization charges on capitalized development costs of €48.8 million (H1 2020: €51.3 million), which are reported under cost of sales.

Research and development (R&D)

in € million

Q1 – Q2

Q1 – Q2


Research and development costs (P&L)




Capitalized development costs




Total R&D spending




R&D spending as percentage of revenue



Focus of R&D in the first six months of 2021

The fundamental strategic direction of research and development, which is defined in the KION 2027 strategy, did not change in the period under review and continued to center on the growth areas of automation, digitalization, and energy-efficient drive solutions. The focus remains on providing long-term support for the KION Group’s position as a leading global supplier of integrated, automated supply chain solutions and mobile automation solutions. The KION Group is boosting the innovativeness of its portfolio by concentrating heavily on automation and robotics solutions that are based on a cross-segment software platform.


The development and refinement of energy-efficient drive solutions, from internal combustion engines to various electric drive systems and fuel cells, continued to be a focus of research and development. Additions to the product range included developments in the area of lithium-ion batteries.

The new Linde X20–X35 electric forklift truck models with a load capacity of 2.0 to 3.5 tonnes match the performance and robustness of the Linde hydrostatic systems for the first time but also offer the environmental and efficiency advantages of battery-powered trucks.

The RX 20-16P/lithium-ion electric forklift truck from STILL was awarded the top accolade VR Forklift Champion in the category of electric forklift trucks up to 3.5 tonnes in the forklift truck tests conducted by VerkehrsRundschau (VR). It was rated highly for characteristics such as precise and safe steering and very good handling rates.


VDA 5050 is a digital interface that enables automated guided vehicle systems (AGVs) and control software supplied by different manufacturers to communicate with each other. The KION Group and its STILL brand company have been involved in the joint project of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) and the German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA) from the outset and have contributed their expertise to the project. In March of this year, the interface passed the first live test, thereby reaching the first milestone on the journey to market maturity.

KION brand company Linde Material Handling has developed Linde Warehouse Manager in order to help customers start using digital warehouse management. The efficient warehouse management system is suitable for small and medium-sized enterprises that want to transition from entirely manual to semi- and fully automated processes. They can use the software solution to coordinate their truck fleets and manage transport tasks completely automatically. The inventory management function offers full transparency about capacity utilization in the warehouse while a pick function supports order picking. The software can also be integrated with ERP systems and automated conveyor technology.

Making greater use of artificial intelligence for products and software solutions is a further long-term focus of the KION Group’s research and development activities in the area of digitalization.


Dematic has launched Dematic Conveyor ConfiKIT, an online tool for automation solutions that streamlines the processes involved in preparing quotations for conveyor technology systems. The app enables such systems to be individually configured from a kit of standardized modules while at the customer’s site, which means projects can be implemented much more quickly. Dematic developed the tool in collaboration with KION Digital, STILL, and Linde Material Handling.

The Industrial Indoor Localization (IIL) research project, which was completed in February 2021, facilitates the collection and standardization of the infrastructure and process data that is needed for warehouse automation. STILL brought its knowledge of truck automation and robotics to the project and, in the automated horizontal order picker OPX iGo neo, developed precisely the right truck for efficient process automation.

Linde Material Handling is working with a partner on a pilot project to develop autonomous reach trucks. The trucks are now being put through their paces in real-life conditions at an ultra-modern distribution center.

Projects as part of R&D partnerships

Four new collaborative projects were launched in the first half of 2021 in order to conduct research into artificial intelligence, object gripping, 3D indoor maps for visualizing warehouse data, and outdoor automated guided vehicle systems. The projects are being supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy, and the European Union.