Shanghai. At the 16th Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition the technology company ZF presents its range of products and expertise for one of the most important market regions: With figures of €3.6 billion (¥29.5 billion) in 2014, the company generated about one fifth of the Group sales amounting to €18.4 billion (¥150 billion) in the Asia-Pacific region. China, the most important individual market, is contributing €2.6 billion (¥21 billion) to this amount. One success factor for ZF is the early presence on site as well as the close link between manufacturer business and sales and service activities.
With more than 14 percent of Group sales, China represents one of the most important markets for ZF. Besides the current total of 13 locations with about 5,900 employees, the ZF Engineering Center in Shanghai and the two companies of ZF Services are also gaining in importance. In order to further extend research and development there and to reinforce its market presence in the Far East, the technology company is considerably expanding its headquarters for China and Asia-Pacific in Shanghai: The space for offices, laboratories, and test benches will almost be quadrupled from 11,000 to 54,000 square meters. The building will be completed at the end of 2015. In the next five years, ZF will invest approximately €50 million (¥410 million) in this project.
One hundred years of ZF, 35 years in China
Furthermore, the year 2015 is an important anniversary year for ZF: One hundred years ago, “Zahnradfabrik GmbH” – and thus the core of today’s company – was founded as a company “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.
“Being present in promising markets early on – this is an essential characteristic of ZF’s international business. It proved to be a key door-opener in the region of Asia-Pacific,” says ZF’s Chief Executive Officer Dr. Stefan Sommer. The company today has a total of 13 locations in China – all ZF divisions currently manufacture products for the local market. The ZF product range includes driveline and chassis technology for passenger cars and commercial vehicles, construction machinery and agricultural machinery, transmissions for marine applications, and wind turbine gearboxes. The business is also flanked by 36 authorized ZF Services partners in China. ZF’s automotive customers include both Chinese manufacturers and the local companies of European passenger car and commercial vehicle manufacturers.
“Alongside investments and new customer business, it is increasingly important for ZF to be seen as an attractive employer,” says ZF’s CEO Sommer. After all, ‘localizeering’ projects are also gaining in importance. In this context, high-tech products are developed specifically for the Chinese market at the ZF Engineering Center in Shanghai and then they are produced at one of the ZF locations in China. To this end, ZF needs qualified and creative employees in China for research and development. ZF is increasing its awareness among young Chinese engineers through numerous activities, including funding an endowed Professorship for Passenger Car Chassis Technology and Dynamics at the renowned Tongji University in Shanghai. The company also supports the team at the Tongji University, which participates in the student construction and design competition Formula Student.