Friedrichshafen. Whether it's in the field of electrification, automation, functional networks, or lightweight design: If the automobile industry wants to successfully meet future mobility requirements, it will have to increasingly focus on the power of innovation as the decisive factor. The recently published annual statistics of the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (GPTO) show that ZF is already in a good position: For the technology company, 909 new applications mark a new annual record and tenth place in the patent statistic. What is more, ZF achieved the highest growth rate among the top ten companies that have their corporate headquarters in Germany.
ZF is working intensively on the mobility of the future: In 2014, as if to prove it, the technology company from Friedrichshafen increased the number of GPTO applications by 28 percent compared to the year before, achieving a new record high of 909 new patents, and thus demonstrating its technological leadership in driveline and chassis technology. Thanks to its variety of patents, the component supplier ZF takes tenth place, just behind vehicle manufacturers such as Volkswagen, Audi, or GM. In addition, it stands out as the company with the strongest growth rate among the German innovators that secured a place in the current list of the top ten.
ZF has set the course for expanding its successful position in the face of future challenges: Huge creative potential in all important areas of engineering meets target-oriented organizational structures. The seven major ZF R&D centers in Europe, Asia, and North America are cooperating closely. In 2014 alone, the technology company invested a total of EUR 891 million in these centers, underscoring the high importance attributed to research and development.
The predominant part of ZF patents in the last year referred to new transmission concepts for passenger cars, commercial vehicles, as well as for off-road machinery. They include plug-in hybrid applications as well as innovative functional approaches for electronic control units of vehicle systems. Last but not least, ZF also filed a very high number of patents on lightweight design technologies as well as individual components and whole packages for future-proof chassis systems.
Table: The ten most active patent applicants at the GPTO in 2014 (direct applications)
1 Robert Bosch GmbH D 4,008 Applications*
2 Schaeffler Technologies GmbH & Co. KG D 2,518
3 Siemens AG D 1,806
4 Daimler AG D 1,797
5 Bayerische Motoren Werke AG D 1,464
6 Ford Global Technologies, LLC USA 1,390
7 GM Global Technology Operations, LLC USA 1,080
8 Audi AG D 960
9 Volkswagen AG D 943
10 ZF Friedrichshafen AG D 909
* Number of patent applications filed in 2014 without considering possible group affiliations.