After its successful acquisition of TRW Automotive in spring 2015, ZF Friedrichshafen AG now ranks among the three largest international automotive suppliers. With 134 000 employees at around 230 locations worldwide and pro forma sales exceeding EUR 30 billion in 2014, the company's product portfolio has grown considerably in order to develop adequate 21st century mobility solutions.
ZF is focusing on systems that will increase passenger car efficiency and safety and will make the prospect of autonomous driving possible. ZF showcases an example of this at the IAA motor show: the Advanced Urban Vehicle concept.
“We want to deliver complete system solutions to the automotive industry that will meet megatrends of the future and offer our customers increased added value,” explained Dr. Stefan Sommer, CEO of ZF. “To achieve this goal, the issues of efficiency, safety, and automated driving are essential.” Since the acquisition of TRW Automotive in May 2015, ZF's product and technology portfolio has expanded considerably and now covers driveline and chassis technology and active and passive safety systems for passenger cars.
Now ZF can supply almost everything for the future trend of fully automated driving from one source – from automatic transmissions and axle drives through active chassis systems to advanced driver assistance systems including camera and radar systems, steering, electric steering and software, and vehicle control systems. ZF is also in the process of improving sensors and actuators to raise the maturity level of today's systems that are currently already suitable for production. Looking at efficiency, its areas of expertise also complement each other, as shown in the development of hybrid or purely electric drives. The now larger ZF is also benefiting from the braking technology expertise of its new Active and Passive Safety Technology division, for example, in the field of regenerative braking. Another strategic objective is safety where, again, new ground is being broken thanks to ZF’s acquisition of TRW. Now ZF is able to offer solutions that network steering, active chassis, and stability systems together, thus significantly increasing the safety of current stability systems that are usually controlled by braking alone. Moreover, ZF can further develop its expertise in sensor technology and active damping systems with a look toward future chassis damper systems.
ZF’s global market presence
By acquiring TRW, ZF has considerably expanded its global market presence. With 134,000 employees at around 230 locations, the combined company is present in some 40 countries worldwide, and generated sales in excess of EUR 30 billion in 2014. The European market accounted for around 50 percent of sales where ZF employs a workforce of 80,200 at 128 locations (of these, there are 49,200 employees at 41 locations in Germany). ZF also has firm roots in the world's largest market regions of North America and Asia-Pacific where its locations are closely networked. This network is tailored to local market requirements (North America: 29,900 employees at 44 locations, of these, there are 11,900 employees at 30 locations in the U.S.; Asia-Pacific: 15,000 employees at 51 locations, of these, there are 11,700 employees at 18 locations in China). Thanks to the acquisition of TRW Automotive, ZF has doubled its sales volume in the strategically important markets of the U.S. and China, and generated some EUR 4 billion in China and just under EUR 7 billion in the U.S. in 2014. ZF has invested approximately five percent of its sales (recently EUR 1.6 billion when adding together the two individual budgets) in research and development in 2014 in order to continue to be successful with innovative products. As such, ZF's R&D resources are among the largest in the global automotive industry.
100 years of ZF
In addition, 2015 is an important anniversary year for ZF: 100 years ago, in 1915, “Zahnradfabrik Friedrichshafen GmbH” was founded. During an eventful history, ZF has leveraged its entrepreneurial opportunities and developed into a leading technology company in driveline and chassis technology. After extensive internal and external special anniversary events that have already taken place, ZF will publish its new technology history in the fall. The company already presented a new company history in April.