Stuttgart/Friedrichshafen—ZF Friedrichshafen AG’s economic strategy for 2014 was effective: For the overall year, the driveline and chassis technology company expects a high single-digit increase in sales compared to last year from €16.8 billion to more than €18 billion.
“Last year (2014) proved to be a challenging one for the automotive industry,” said ZF’s CEO, Dr. Stefan Sommer, at the year-end press conference in Stuttgart on Dec. 18. “Thus, it is all the more pleasing that we managed to grow above average thanks to the commitment of ZF employees.” At the presentation of the annual financial statements in April 2014, ZF expected a “high single-digit” growth.
The heterogeneous development of individual markets had been a particular challenge, stressed Sommer: “The difficult economic situation in Brazil and the Russian-Ukrainian conflict tangibly affected sales in the regions of South America and Eastern Europe.” In South America for instance, sales dropped by approximately one fifth to €550 million. However, the situation is quite different in North America and Asia-Pacific: Here, ZF increased its sales by around one fifth to €3.7 billion and €3.6 billion respectively. In Europe, the company recorded a sales increase of 5 percent to €10.3 billion. Currency effects, however, leveled this year to a great extent, explained Sommer. Opposed to the previous years, they only had a minor effect on the financial results. The latter will be presented by ZF at the annual press conference in April 2015.
For 2015, ZF’s CEO anticipates “moderate sales growth” in all product segments. Moreover, Sommer expects a stabilization of another market important for ZF – the market for construction and agricultural machinery.
The key topic for 2015 will be the conclusion of the TRW Automotive acquisition as well as the subsequent integration of the company. After the TRW shareholders voted in favor of the acquisition on Nov. 19, some investigations with regard to antitrust law were required. Until the final closing of the acquisition, which is expected in the first half of 2015, “a team of specialists from both companies will be preparing the integration,” explained Sommer. The team is headed by a manager with extensive experience in automotive industry and integration matters. “It is important to merge the best elements from both worlds,” Sommer emphasized, “in order to leverage this strategically unique opportunity.” Thus, the highly efficient hybrid drive technology by ZF coupled with future technologies like TRW’s advanced driver assistance systems will form a sophisticated portfolio.
Furthermore, 2015 will be an important anniversary year for ZF: One hundred years ago, on Sept. 9, 1915, the “Zahnradfabrik GmbH” – and thus the core of today’s company – was founded to “to produce gears and transmissions for aircraft, motor vehicles and motorboats.” Despite an eventful history, ZF seized its entrepreneurial opportunities and developed into a worldwide leading company for driveline and chassis technology.
ZF will celebrate the centennial with its employees worldwide in different ways, for instance, Family Days at ZF locations around the world will offer employees’ families a look behind the scenes. “We are looking forward to celebrating this anniversary with all of our employees as well as to welcoming the new, motivated employees of TRW with their expertise and innovative ideas to ZF,” Sommer said.