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ZF Friedrichshafen AG
Innovationen, die sich rechnen - Innovations of Great Value
||Zahnradfabrik Friedrichshafen AG
||20 August 1915
|| Friedrichshafen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
|Number of locations
||125 production locations in 25 countries
||Hans-Georg Härter (CEO)
||Engineering & manufacturing:
||Design, Research and development
||▼ €12,501 million (2008)
||▼ €779 million (2008)
||▼ €434 million (2008)
||▲ €939 million (2008)
||▲ 59,800 (2009)
||ZF Getriebe GmbH,
ZF Off-Road Driveline Technology and Axle Systems,
ZF Lemförder GmbH,
ZF Sachs AG,
ZF Boge Elastmetall GmbH,
ZF Electronics GmbH,
ZF Luftfahrttechnik GmbH,
ZF Lenksysteme GmbH,
ZF Gastronomie Service GmbH
||ZF Trading GmbH,
ZF Passau GmbH,
ZF Great Britain Ltd
ZF Friedrichshafen AG, also known as ZF Group, and commonly abbreviated to ZF, is a German public company (Aktiengesellschaft or AG) headquartered in Friedrichshafen, in the German south-west 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 125 production locations in 26 countries.
History and milestones
The company was founded as gearwheel factory (German: Zahnradfabrik, meaning 'gear factory') in 1915 in Friedrichshafen, Germany to produce gears for zeppelins and other airships, but had moved into the automobile market by 1918, a move consolidated by the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. Some of the most important milestones that followed:
- 1920: Patent application submitted for the Soden pre-selector transmission.
- 1921: Under a rampant inflation and investor fears, the company goes public as the Zahnradfabrik Friedrichshafen AG, with the Zeppelin Luftschiffbau GmbH holding 80% of the stock options, valued at 4 million Marks.
- 1929: A thriving auto industry warrants the series production of the innovative helical ZF Aphon transmission for cars and commercial vehicles.
- 1932: Launch of steering systems production under license. Today: ZF Lenksysteme GmbH.
- 1944: On August 3, the Zahnradfabrik was bombed by the Fifteenth Air Force as a secondary target. As early as 20 September 1942, Albert Speer had warned Hitler of how important the Friedrichshafen tank production and the Schweinfurt ball-bearing facilities were.
- 1953: Market launch of the first fully synchronised transmission for commercial vehicles worldwide.
- 1961: Development of a fully automatic transmission for passenger cars. With series production beginning in 1969, and later proving highly popular, the 3HP20 is built to be swappable with the company's manual transmissions. The 1960s sees ZF supplying transmissions to major German automakers (including DKW and BMW) as well as Peugeot and Alfa Romeo.
- 1977: Start of volume production for automatic transmissions for commercial vehicles. Worldwide subsidiaries and factories were opened in the 1970s, and the company moved into India, South Korea.
- 1984: Majority shareholding gained in Lemförder Metallwaren AG. Today: ZF Lemförder GmbH.
- 1986: Start of USA transmission production in Gainesville, Georgia, for pickup trucks. ZF became a major supplier to Ford in the 1980s.
- 1991: The 5HP18 was the first 5-speed automatic transmission for passenger cars. Introduced in 1991 on the BMW E36 320i/325i and E34 5 Series
- 1994: Development of an automatic transmission system for heavy commercial vehicles. The company expanded into China in the 1990s.
- 1999: World premiere for the first automatic 6-speed transmission. Series production begins in 2001, with the BMW 7 Series as the first client. Today, ZF produces around one million six-speed automatic transmissions annually.
- 2001: Acquisition of Mannesmann Sachs AG. Today: ZF Sachs GmbH.
- 2002: Presentation of the world's first 4-point link – a newly developed chassis module for trucks and buses.
- 2003: First deliveries of the active steering systems for passenger cars.
- 2004: Ford starts volume production of the continuously variable transmissions (CVT) for passenger cars developed by ZF.
- 2005: The 10-millionth airbag casing, the 5-millionth passenger car axle system and the 2-millionth 'Servolectric' electric power steering system are delivered.
- 2006: ZF produces the 10-millionth passenger car automatic transmission.
- 2007: One of the world's first 8-speed automatic transmissions, the 8HP boasted to achieve a 11% improvement in fuel economy in comparison with standard 6-speed automatic transmissions. Production will start in 2009.
- 2008: Acquisition of the Cherry Corporation. Incorporated into the ZF Electronics GmbH Corporate Division.
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.
ZF 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 Stabilisation (ARS); clutches; torque converters; differentials; axle drives; and industrial drives.
Through the ZF Lenksysteme Division (a 50:50 joint venture between ZF and Bosch), steering components and systems are produced, including steering columns, gears and pumps; Electric Power Steering (EPS); and Active Steering.
With the rise in popularity of the semi-automatic transmission in trucks and buses, ZF introduced the ZF-AS Tronic. 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, ZF Sachs AG, and ZF Boge Elastmetall GmbH are all divisions/business units of ZF, specialising in original equipment and aftermarket solutions for the automotive industry.
- ZF has a re-manufacturing facility and customer support operation in Nottingham, England: ZF Great Britain Ltd (ZF GB), to service original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) like JCB, Terex, Jaguar, BMW, and fleet users with gearboxes and axles.
- The region of North America has about 6,000 employees, who are recruited in Canada, Mexico and the USA, also very important for the ZF group. Apart from that there were two productions founded in South America, one in Brazil and the other in Argentina.
- Because of the expansion rate of Asian vehicle manufactures, ZF focuses furthermore on China, Korea and Japan, but also Australia is included in the Asia-Pacific region.