ZF Friedrichshafen

ZF Friedrichshafen AG
Aktiengesellschaft (JSC)
Industry Engineering & manufacturing:
Automotive industry (car and CV),
rail transport,
marine engineering,
Predecessor ZF Friedrichshafen AG
Founded 20 August 1915
Headquarters Friedrichshafen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Number of locations
113 production locations in 26 countries
Area served
Key people
Stefan Sommer (CEO)
Products Transmission systems,[1]
steering, axles components
Services Design, Research and development

€18,415 million (2014) [2] Increase

€16,837 million (2013) [3] Increase €15,509 million (2011)[4] Increase €12,907 million (2010)[5]
€897 million (2014)[2] Increase
€850 million (2011)[4] Increase
€680 million (2010)[5]
Profit €672 million (2014)[2] Increase
€540 million (2011)[4] Increase
€443 million (2010)[5]
Total assets Decrease €826 million (2011)[4]
Number of employees
Divisions Car Powertrain Technology,[1]
Car Chassis Technology,[1]
Commercial Vehicle Technology ,[1]
Industrial Technology,[1]
Active & Passive Safety Technology,[1]
Electronic Systems,[1]
ZF Services,[1]
Website ZF.com

ZF Friedrichshafen AG, also known as ZF Group, and commonly abbreviated to ZF (ZF = "Zahnradfabrik" = "Gear Factory"), is a German car parts maker headquartered in Friedrichshafen, in the south-west German region of Baden-Württemberg.

Specialising in engineering, it is primarily known for its design, research and development, and manufacturing activities in the automotive industry. It is a worldwide supplier of driveline and chassis technology for cars and commercial vehicles, along with specialist plant equipment such as construction equipment. It is also involved in rail, marine, defence and aviation industries, as well as general industrial applications. ZF has 230 production locations in 40 countries with approximately 138,000 employees.


The company was founded in 1915 in Friedrichshafen,[6] Germany by Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH, to produce gears for Zeppelins and other airships. Zeppelin was unable to otherwise obtain gears for his airships. The German Zahnradfabrik (ZF) translates to 'gear factory' in English.

By 1919, ZF had moved into the automobile market, a move consolidated by the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. Some of the most important milestones that followed:

Land Rover will demonstrate the world's first nine-speed automatic transmission for a passenger car at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show. The ZF 9HP transmission is designed for transverse applications, and is one of the most efficient and technically advanced transmissions ever used in a production vehicle. Land Rover is the lead partner with ZF on this project.


ZF 8HP70 Automatic Gearbox
Electric-vehicle drive unit

ZF Friedrichshafen products include automatic and manual transmissions for cars, trucks, buses and construction equipment; chassis components (ball joints, tie rods, cross-axis joints, stabiliser bars, control arms); shock absorbers and suspension struts; electronic damping systems including Continuous Damping Control (CDC), Active Roll Stabilization (ARS); clutches; torque converters; differentials; axle drives; and industrial drives.

ZF products include[20]


Cars, trucks, buses & coaches, light commercial vehicles, off-road equipment, rail vehicles, helicopters, motorcycles, lift trucks, machine and system construction, test systems, civil mobile, cranes, and special marine, military and agricultural vehicles and machines.

In the ZF Lenksysteme division (a 50:50 joint venture between ZF and Bosch), steering systems and components are produced, including steering columns, gears and pumps; Electric Power Steering (EPS); and Active Steering.

With the rise in popularity of the automatic transmission in buses, ZF introduced the ZF AS Tronic.[21] The company also manufactures manual and automatic truck and bus transmissions. ZF transmissions are the ones used most commonly in buses. The Ecomat automatic transmission range which was introduced in 1980, is frequently used in buses.

ZF Lemförder and ZF Sachs AG are all divisions/business units of ZF, specialising in original equipment and aftermarket solutions for the automotive industry.


Main article: TRW Automotive

ZF-TRW Automotive, headquartered in Livonia, Michigan USA operations primarily surrounding the design, manufacture and sale of safety systems. It operated approximately 200 facilities with 66,100 employees in 26 vehicle-producing countries.

ZF-TRW was acquired in 2015 and now is the 'Active & Passive Safety Technology' division.

Business development

In 1999 the steering systems division was made separate and became the new ZF Lenksysteme GmbH, an independent, 50:50 joint venture between ZF Friedrichshafen AG and Robert Bosch GmbH.

In 2007 ZF Friedrichshafen AG managed to increase its business volume about 8% to €12.65 billion. The operating profit was about €917 million. In 2008 ZF had a profit of €434 million from a total business volume of €12.5 billion. During the financial crisis ZF was one of the companies hit most. Its business volume decreased in turnover to €9.2 billion. Total loss was about €421 million. According to the current development ZF is forecasting sales growth of about 10%, which would be above the industry average.

Due to the financial crisis ZF received a credit of about €250 million by KfW. At the end of the term, it has to be paid back with interest. Being a state bank, the KfW aid is not considered governmental support. ZF is about to save €600 million without reducing its permanent staff. Contracts of short-term employees were not extended. Total number of employees was reduced from 63,000 to 59,000 worldwide. According to CEO Härter, there is no need for further employee reduction.[22]

On 16 September 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that ZF agreed to acquire TRW Automotive Holdings for $11.7 billion. The acquisition would create the world's second largest automotive parts concern, ranked just behind Robert Bosch GmbH.[23] For clearing way to acquire TRW Automotive Holdings, ZF Friedrichshafen AG sold its stake in ZF Lenksysteme GmbH to Robert Bosch GmbH.[24] ZF Lenksysteme GmbH has now been rechristened as Robert Bosch Automotive Steering GmbH.[25]

Business organisations

The business units are assigned to the five divisions:[1]

And two independent business units:

Overseas facilities

The ZF Group is represented across the world. The primary market is Europe, followed by the Asia-Pacific region, including Australia, North and South America and Middle East & Africa.

The company has six worldwide research and development (R&D) sites to provide product development related to the local markets. ZF invests approximately 5 percent of its sales revenue on R&D annually.

Global locations of ZF Friedrichshafen AG

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 "ZF divisions and business units – Organization". ZF Friedrichshafen AG. ZF.com. Retrieved September 2014. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  2. 1 2 3 4 "2014 business year – Annual Report" (PDF). ZF Friedrichshafen AG. ZF.com. Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  3. 1 2 "2013 business year – Annual Report" (PDF). ZF Friedrichshafen AG. ZF.com. Retrieved 30 April 2014.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 "2011 business year – Annual Report" (PDF). ZF Friedrichshafen AG. ZF.com. Retrieved 16 May 2012.
  5. 1 2 3 Business report 2010 official website
  6. 1 2 Maudes Capital (24 September 2016). "Haldex AB Bidding War. Get It While You Can!". Seeking Alpha. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
  7. 461st Bombardement Group
  8. "August 1944". 461st Bombardment Group Association. 461st.org. Retrieved 19 September 2009.
  9. Speer, Albert (1970) [1969 – German: Erinnerungen (Recollections)]. Inside the Third Reich. Translated by Richard and Clara Winston. New York and Toronto: Macmillan. p. 433. ISBN 978-0-684-82949-4. LCCN 70119132.
  10. ZF Tradition official website
  11. |title=8-speed automatic|url=http://www.lexus.eu/range/ls/key-features/engine/engine-8-speed-automatic.aspx|work=Lexus-Europe|date= 2009|publisher=Lexus.eu|accessdate=19 September 2009
  12. ZF develops 8-speed automatic transmission for passenger cars gizmag.com, 6. June 2010
  13. "ZF unveils new 8-speed automatic gearbox". PaulTan.org. 3 May 2007. Retrieved 18 September 2009.
  14. "The freedom to exceed limits" (PDF). ZF Friedrichshafen AG. Retrieved 18 September 2009.
  15. "Fuel saving and minimizing CO2 emissions". ZF Friedrichshafen AG. Retrieved 18 September 2009.
  16. "ZF Develops 9-Speed Automatic Transmission for Passenger Cars". Retrieved 12 January 2011.
  17. "ZF Opens Passenger Car Transmission Plant in the U.S.". Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  18. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/15/us-trw-auto-hldg-m-a-zf-fridrichshfn-idUSKBN0HA1FM20140915 TRW Takeover
  19. http://www.zf.com/corporate/en_de/press/list/release/release_12104.html
  20. product overview official website, 2010
  21. AS Tronic pdf, May 2010
  22. "ZF erwartet Verlust". Auto, Motor und Sport. 16 July 2009. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
  23. Boston, William (16 September 2014). "Merger creates auto-parts colossus". Wall Street Journal. p. B1.
  24. http://www.wsj.com/articles/bosch-agrees-to-buy-german-auto-parts-suppliers-share-in-steering-venture-1410774792
  25. http://www.bosch-automotive-steering.com/en/press/news/details/archive/2015/january/article/bosch-vollzieht-komplette-uebernahme-von-zf-lenksysteme.html?tx_ttnews[day]=30&cHash=3c6ac3dc58cec6509cefaea81f924cea
  26. locations worldwide official website, 2010
  27. locations worldwide official website, 2010
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