Detroit/Friedrichshafen. ZF is making significant progress in the future-oriented fields of autonomous driving and electromobility. At the automotive trade fair in Detroit, Michigan/USA, the Group's CEO Dr. Konstantin Sauer announced new customer orders, the construction of new plants and economic success for the business year 2017.
ZF is proactive in establishing collaboration with automotive OEMs in China such as Chery by providing the supercomputer ZF ProAI. ZF's artificial intelligence (AI) controller enables automated driving functions up to level 3 for this collaboration. Drivers will receive support in relief from driving tasks while all traffic participants will benefit from systems designed to deliver an overall higher degree of road safety.
ZF and its cooperation partners, the AI computing Company Nvidia, as well as the Chinese technology company Baidu, are working together on autonomous driving. For the first time, deep learning algorithms enabled by the supercomputing power of the ZF ProAI will be available in affordable cars.
"The collaboration is of particular relevance because it contributes to the democratization of autonomous driving functions in one of the most important automotive markets of the world. This helps to enable autonomous driving for everyone," said Dr. Konstantin Sauer, CEO of ZF Friedrichshafen AG, during today's ZF press conference at NAIAS (North American International Auto Show) in Detroit, Michigan/USA.
The cooperation benefits from the successful collaboration of the partners in Baidu's "Project Apollo", an open platform which supports virtually all main functions of autonomous vehicles in a turnkey solution.
Significantly higher demand for electromobility solutions
ZF also continues its success in another seminal technology field: The demand for electromobility solutions increases – solutions that are provided on an international level by ZF's E-Mobility Division, established in 2016, in cooperation with its Car Powertrain and Car Chassis Technology Divisions. A European automotive manufacturer will, for instance, use ZF's all-electric drive including power electronics in volume production. A purely electric drive with power electronics is also included in this product. The order volume amounts to about one million units for the complete runtime of the model.
The demand for ZF hybrid transmissions, an important bridging technology towards pure and locally emission-free electromobility, is also increasing significantly. "To serve the increasing market demand for our integrated electromobility solutions, we will invest in two new production locations for electronic transmission components," explained Dr. Sauer during the press conference in Detroit.
At the NAIAS, the company is currently highlighting future market opportunities arising for the Group when technologies for autonomous driving and electrification are combined: The complete, mobile base including sensors and electronics for autonomous driving functions of the visionary vehicle concept "Snap" by Rinspeed comes from ZF. Thanks to the Intelligent Dynamic Driving Chassis (IDDC), variable vehicle concepts can be mounted on the same mobile base and retrofitted on demand at short notice. ZF also contributes its technology to a joint venture with e.GO Mobile AG for a people and cargo mover.
Successful business year and stable financial situation
ZF's great range of technology is based on financial stability which is backed by an extraordinarily successful business year 2017. "According to current information, we have achieved all our targets for the past business year or even exceeded them. We expect to reach sales figures of about €36 billion," explained Dr. Sauer. "We not only invested in new technologies but also significantly reduced our debt." Recently, the credit rating agency Moody's classified ZF as "investment grade", thus confirming the company's positive development. "ZF confirms its course and positions itself as a powerful technology supplier for the automotive trends of the future," concluded Dr. Sauer.