ZF is... gearing up to electrify everything

ZF, the German supplier of transmission systems and axles components for cars and buses, is bullish on the future of hybrid and plug-in hybrids (as well as full EVs).

Most recently, the company said that it expects hybrid drive to take 50% of the market in a few years (up from about 5%). ZF says it expects growth of the electric range of PHEVs to go up to 80-100 km (which would be more or less in line with BMW/Daimler goals for next-generation PHEVs). So maybe the end of the Chevrolet Volt was premature?

Wolf-Henning Scheider, CEO of ZF Friedrichshafen AG said:

“The share of hybrid drives in production will increase tenfold over the next few years – from five to 50 percent,”.

“We see the increasing market penetration of advanced hybrid drives as an opportunity, which in our view is much more than just a bridge technology. With longer ranges between 80 and 100 kilometers, they can complete the majority of all journeys electrically and thus help e-mobility to achieve a breakthrough more quickly.”

Seeing changes on the market, ZF is investing more than €3 billion worldwide in new products and its production network for transmission technology. Besides general improvements, some €800 million (€910 million) to be spent on the Saarbrücken plant in Germany for transmission technology for electrified vehicles. The market for transmissions for conventional cars is expected to shrink (just as with the overall ICE market).

"Over the next four years, a total of €800 million will be invested in Saarbrücken, the lead location of ZF’s transmission technology. With this investment, the location will be made fit for the transition from conventional to electric car drives. "

"For the Saarbrücken plant, the ongoing electrification of the powertrain is both an opportunity and a challenge. "

"ZF’s order books show that the hybrid technology is in great demand. ZF is responding to this boom in demand with an investment program worth more than €3 billion for the further development and sustainability of these products. In Saarbrücken, the company’s lead location for transmission technology, ZF will invest around €800 million over the next four years in production plants and systems, infrastructure, and its supplier network.

If the development towards pure electromobility progresses as currently forecast in several studies, sales and thus also the workforce at the Saarbrücken plant will, however, decline in the long term. In view of this development, ZF has launched a number of activities in Saarbrücken that are intended to significantly increase the plant’s international competitiveness. These include, for example, a whole series of IoT projects. At the same time, these initiatives use artificial intelligence (AI) to provide quick and valuable decision-making aids for employees and thus increase efficiency."

Stephan von Schuckmann, head of ZF’s Car Powertrain Technology Division said:

“The fact that these effects will only occur in a few years’ time gives us the opportunity to prepare for them today. We want to prepare our employees for the mobility of the future with a wide range of training and qualification opportunities and more agile work structures.”

Here is what ZF does: