ZF Friedrichshafen

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ZF Friedrichshafen AG

legal form Corporation
founding August 20, 1915
Seat Friedrichshafen
Number of employees 160,000 (2020)
sales 36.5 billion euros (2019)
Branch Automotive supplier, drive and chassis technology
Website www.zf.com

The ZF Friedrichshafen AG (also known as ZF Group known; IF  = "gear factory [Friedrichshafen]"), headquartered in Friedrichshafen is the world's fifth largest automotive supplier and one of the world leading companies in the field of driveline and chassis technology.

The ZF Group stated that it would be represented at around 260 locations in 41 countries in the 2020 financial year. There are also 77 own service companies and over 650 service partners.

93.8% of the owners are the Zeppelin Foundation and 6.2% are the Dr. Jürgen and Irmgard Ulderup Foundation in Lemförde .


  • States with locations of ZF Friedrichshafen AG
  • The company was founded in Friedrichshafen on Lake Constance in 1915 under the name Zahnradfabrik GmbH for the production of gears and transmissions for aircraft, motor vehicles and boats with the aim of building better transmissions . From the beginning, vehicle transmissions were included as a business purpose in the founding deed to expand the business basis . The head of development at Zeppelin GmbH, Alfred Graf von Soden-Fraunhofen , wanted to manufacture gears using a new process developed by the Swiss engineer Max Maag .

    The founders were Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH , represented by Alfred Colsman , and the Max Maag gear factory. Count Soden and Theodor Winz became managing directors. As a result, the gear factory made a name for itself as a manufacturer of transmissions and gears for aircraft , machines and trucks . In 1921 the company was converted into a stock corporation and it operated under the name Zahnradfabrik Friedrichshafen AG until 1991 . The Friedrichshafen-Zahnradfabrik stop was set up on the Teuringertal Railway , which was used by passengers from 1922 to 1954 . The Berlin plant was opened in 1926; The Schwäbisch Gmünd plant followed in 1937 .

    Like numerous other companies in the mechanical engineering sector, ZF also produced armaments during the Second World War and employed 2,800 forced laborers by the end of the war . This chapter in the company's history is gradually making its way to the public. Between June 1943 and February 1945 eleven air raids were carried out on the city of Friedrichshafen, which resulted in the almost total destruction of the production facilities at the headquarters. ZF has been in the arms business again since the post-war period, for example as a supplier for the Leopard 1 tank . In addition, ZF is a supporting member of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Wehrtechnik e. V.

    At the beginning of 1970, the US company Borg-Warner took a 50% stake in the production of automatic passenger car transmissions at Zahnradfabrik Friedrichshafen AG .

    In 1984 ZF acquired a stake in Lemförder Metallwaren AG , which is now part of the Chassis Technology Division of ZF Friedrichshafen AG . Since the beginning of 1992 the name of the company has been ZF Friedrichshafen AG . The color of the logo changed from black to blue. The reason for this was on the one hand the stronger global orientation of the company and on the other hand the changed field of activity. In 1999 the steering systems division was spun off and converted into an independent GmbH . Both ZF Friedrichshafen AG and Robert Bosch GmbH held a 50% stake in this GmbH (formerly ZF Lenksysteme based in Schwäbisch Gmünd) until March 10, 2015 , after which the ZF stake went to Bosch ( Robert Bosch Automotive Steering GmbH ). In 2001, ZF Friedrichshafen AG acquired the largest company to date, Mannesmann Sachs AG , whose activities are now combined in the Driveline and Chassis Technology divisions.

    In 2009, sales fell to 9.37 billion euros and the loss amounted to 421 million euros. In the following year, sales rose by 38 percent to 12.9 billion euros, and earnings after taxes were 443 million euros.

    In September 2009, ZF received a loan from KfW of 250 million euros from the steering committee as part of the Deutschlandsfonds as a result of the financial crisis . This was paid to the company through commercial banks. This loan had to be repaid with interest at the end of the term. The company wanted to save 600 million euros, but wanted to keep the permanent workforce and not cut employees. According to the then CEO Hans-Georg Härter at the press conference on September 15, 2009, the number of employees had already decreased from around 63,288 to 59,771, so that no further reduction was sought.

    In 2010, ZF took over the wind power transmission manufacturer Hansen Transmissions and integrated it as the ZF Windpower division . In the same year, the subsidiary Openmatics was founded in Pilsen , which developed the telematics platform of the same name .

    As part of the realignment of the group, all major German ZF companies merged into ZF Friedrichshafen AG in August 2011 .

    On September 15, 2014, ZF announced that it would take over the automotive supplier TRW Automotive . The takeover was completed in mid-May 2015. With this merger, total sales of around 29 billion euros and a group with over 130,000 employees were created. The purchase cost ZF 9.6 billion euros; previously, ZF Lenksysteme (ZFLS), which was previously owned by Bosch and ZF, was sold by ZF to Bosch for antitrust reasons. The merger is expected to provide new impetus , especially in the field of electromobility and autonomous driving .

    In November 2016, the ZF Forum was opened as the new corporate headquarters. On the ground floor it houses a publicly accessible company museum.

    At the end of March 2019, ZF announced that it would take over the automotive supplier WABCO for 7 billion US dollars. On June 27, 2019, WABCO's shareholders approved the takeover offer. The process was completed on May 29, 2020. WABCO was integrated into the group as a separate division. Also for antitrust reasons, ZF sold RH Sheppard , a subsidiary of WABCO, to Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC , a subsidiary of Knorr-Bremse , for $ 149.5 million.

    Numbers and dates

    Some key figures from May 2015 and the end of 2015:

    • Employees worldwide by May 2015: 71,402, including employees in Europe : 50,774; after the TRW takeover employees worldwide: 136,820
    • 113 production companies in 26 countries (May 2015); after the TRW and WABCO takeover production "in around 260 locations in 41 countries" (2020)
    • Sales in the 2015 financial year: 29.2 billion euros, including 7.785 billion euros in car drive technology and 6.550 billion euros in car chassis technology
    • Research and development expenses EUR 1,390 million (2015); (2013: EUR 891 million)
    • Production of 11.8 million car clutches; 3.0 million car automatic transmissions; 2.2 million car axle drives; 0.4 million transmissions for commercial vehicle technology; 0.1 million gearboxes for construction and agricultural machinery (2014).

    Fields of activity

    The products of ZF comprise transmission , steering , axis , couplings , shock absorbers , suspension components and systems, rubber -Metallkomponenten, and other components for cars , two-wheelers , trucks , buses , construction equipment , agricultural machinery , railway , ship, helicopter , wind, and machinery.

    Car drive technology

    Eight-speed multi-step automatic transmission from ZF Friedrichshafen AG of type 8HP70
    Electric drive unit

    In the Drive Technology Division, headquartered in Saarbrücken, ZF bundles the drive technology activities for passenger cars. This includes the development, production and sale of gearboxes, axle drives, drive modules and drive components. The division is divided into the three business areas of transmissions, axle drives and drive modules at twenty production and development locations with around 20,000 employees:
    The business area of ​​transmissions develops, produces and sells automatic transmissions, manual transmissions and dual clutch transmissions at seven locations. The Drive Modules business area is responsible for active starting systems such as torque converters and double clutches, clutch systems, dual mass flywheels, automation of manual transmissions and electric drives. These products are developed and produced at eight locations worldwide. The head office of the business area is in Schweinfurt . In 2019, the division's sales were 7.312 billion euros.

    At the beginning of 2012, ZF took over the Neunkirchen plant of Bauknecht Hausgeräte GmbH in Saarland and employed 240 people there, where dishwashers were previously produced. The reason was the relocation and expansion of the previous component production in Saarbrücken, which had reached the limits of capacity.

    In December 2012, the Belgian investor Punch Metals International took over the GM plant in Strasbourg , where it produces 8-speed automatic transmissions for ZF under license. This will relieve the ZF Saarbrücken location, which is around 100 kilometers away and which has reached its expansion limits.

    Car chassis technology

    In 2011, the car chassis activities of ZF, consisting of the former car chassis technology ZF Lemförder with headquarters in Lemförde and the chassis division of Sachs, were merged to form the new chassis technology division.

    The division is responsible for the business areas of axle systems, chassis components, rubber & plastics and damping modules. The division develops, produces and sells products in the areas of front and rear axle systems, unit mountings, chassis subframes, corner modules, damper modules and damping systems, tie rods, stabilizers and stabilizer connections, control arms, wheel joints, sleeve joints, wheel carriers and hubs, level controls, crash absorption elements, Chassis bearings and precision plastic parts. The products are marketed in the aftermarket under the umbrella of the Sachs , Lemförder, TRW and ZF Openmatics product brands . In the 2019 financial year, the division had 16,258 employees and sales totaled EUR 7.684 billion.

    Commercial vehicle technology

    In 2011, ZF's commercial vehicle activities were merged into a division. The division is responsible for the truck and van drive technology, bus drive technology, commercial vehicle axle systems, commercial vehicle chassis modules, commercial vehicle damping technology and commercial vehicle drivetrain modules.

    The commercial vehicle and special drive technology division, based in Friedrichshafen, posted sales of EUR 3.701 billion in 2019. The number of employees was 13,302.

    Industrial technology

    In 2011, the Industrial Technology division was formed from the Off-Road Driveline Technology and Axis Systems division and various other business areas. The division includes the business areas for machine systems, test systems, special drive technology, marine drive technology, aviation drive technology and wind power drive technology. The commercial vehicle axle systems and commercial vehicle chassis modules business areas were transferred to the Commercial Vehicle Division. The passenger car axle drives business area was assigned to the Drive Technology division.

    The company division at that time was divided into the business areas of construction machine systems, agricultural machine systems, commercial vehicle axle systems, commercial vehicle chassis modules, car axle drives, forklift systems and test systems . Furthermore, ZF Passau Stands for Development ( continuous load test benches ) and end-of-line test benches for production forth.

    In the special drive technology business area formed in 2011, special drive trains are also developed in small numbers. The product lines are special vehicle systems, rail drive systems as well as industrial drives and actuating systems. This division places particular emphasis on innovative and individual solutions in drive technology. Individual production has become possible thanks to a “ modular ” design of the gear series. A large number of transmission variants can be put together from several variants of one structural component within a transmission type.

    With an increase of 50%, sales of 1,693 million euros were achieved in 2010. In 2019, the division generated sales of EUR 2.990 billion with 10,346 employees.

    Marine propulsion technology

    The business field manufactures complete ship propulsion systems, also as a hybrid variant, with ship gears , rudder and side jet systems , electronic control systems, pod propulsion systems , steer-by-wire systems as well as fixed and variable pitch propellers . It recorded an increase in sales of 18% to EUR 246 million. The number of employees at the end of 2010 was 1,265.

    Aviation propulsion technology

    The business area is responsible for the development, production, maintenance and sales of drive and control components that are suitable for the operation of aircraft. In 2014 it achieved sales of € 71.5 million. The number of employees increased to 329.

    Electronic components

    In 2011, the Electronic Components business area was merged with the Circuit Systems business area to form the new Electronic Systems business area and assigned to the Industrial Technology division. Since May 2013 the area has been an independent business unit of ZF Friedrichshafen AG .

    The business area emerged from Cherry Corp., which was taken over in 2008 . and operated under the name ZF Electronics GmbH with headquarters in Auerbach in the Upper Palatinate until 2011 . It is responsible for the development and production of controls, electronic modules, sensors and switches for the automotive industry, components for industrial and household appliance applications as well as computer input devices. The electronic components business area was also able to increase sales to EUR 640 million and thus by 10%.

    At the end of 2014, 3,546 people were employed, an increase of 16% compared to the previous year. In January 2016, the Electronic Systems, Electrical Drive Technology and System House business areas were merged to form the sixth E-Mobility division ; after the TRW takeover, the number of employees here rose to 5,300.

    Drive and chassis components

    Until 2011, the division comprised the business areas of clutch systems for passenger cars, active starting systems, clutch systems for commercial vehicles, electric drives, active chassis systems for passenger cars, conventional dampers for passenger cars and damping systems for commercial vehicles / rail. In 2010, this division managed to increase sales by 40% to EUR 2,564 million. With an increase of 7%, the number of employees in 2010 was 17,622. In 2011 the business fields were transferred to the new divisions drive technology, chassis technology and commercial vehicle technology.

    ZF Services

    In 2008, ZF merged the two activities of trading ( ZF Trading ) and service ( sales and service organization ) to form the new ZF Services division . The business area is responsible for the global trading business with the product brands Sachs , Lemförder and Boge . In February 2009, ZF Services sold its AutoCrew franchise concept for repair shops to Bosch .

    Overall, sales in 2014 rose by 12% to 1,630 million euros. At the end of 2014, ZF Services had 3,512 employees worldwide. In 2019, a turnover of 2.929 billion euros was achieved with 7,390 employees.

    ZF Race Engineering

    The ZF Race Engineering GmbH is a 100 percent subsidiary of ZF Friedrichshafen AG and develops, designs and produces drive and chassis components for racing cars and power-amplified production cars in the world. It was founded in 1998 as an independent company of what was then Sachs AG in Schweinfurt. Today the motorsport company supplies all well-known racing series, from Formula 1 to the WRC to the DTM .

    Steering technology

    The ZF Lenksysteme GmbH - founded on 1 January 1999, based in Schwabisch Gmund  - was a joint venture of ZF Friedrichshafen AG and Robert Bosch GmbH . Both partners each held 50% of the capital. The company developed and produced steering technology for cars and commercial vehicles in 16 foreign locations in nine countries in Asia, Europe, North America and South America. In the field of commercial vehicle steering and pumps, it was the global market leader, and in 2008 it made it to third place among the market leaders in the field of electric steering . 2010 was the most successful year so far in the twelve-year history of the joint venture. Compared to the previous year, sales rose by 37% to EUR 1,501 million. Sales were even 14% above the pre-crisis level. The number of employees rose by 9% to 5,546 employees (2010 key figures based on 50% ZF share).

    On September 15, 2014, the two partners announced that Bosch would take over the stake in ZF AG in spring 2015 . The parties have agreed not to disclose the purchase price. Because of the completed on May 15, 2015 acquisition of TRW Automotive and the consequent establishment of the Division TRW Automotive Active & Passive safety technology ( Active & Passive Safety Technology ) features the ZF Group again Steering Group Technology.

    fka GmbH

    Head office of fka

    The fka GmbH is a provider of development services for the automotive industry. It was founded in Aachen in 1981 by University Professor Jürgen Helling as the Research Company for Motor Vehicles [mbH] Aachen . Today fka is a subsidiary of ZF Friedrichshafen AG and Voss Automotive GmbH , Wipperfürth .

    The fka cooperates closely with the Institute for Motor Vehicles (ika) of the Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule ( RWTH ). Customers include domestic and foreign automobile companies, component manufacturers and suppliers as well as public institutions. The services of the divisions chassis , body , drive , electronics , Automated Driving , Vehicle Concepts , thermal management , acoustics and automotive system evaluation include nearly all relevant development steps for vehicle development. The tasks range from conception, construction and simulation to prototype construction and experimental testing. The range of services is supplemented with strategic and technical advice.

    social commitment

    The ZF AG promotes - also through employee donations - numerous national and international initiatives and projects in the fields of environmental protection, social affairs, education, culture and sports.

    In addition to promoting professional volleyball players , the Zeppelin University (ZU) or its own art foundation , which awards grants and the ZF Music Prize , the company is also involved with help, such as in India in 2009 or natural disasters such as in Haiti in 2010, through the non-profit association ZF helps with addiction prevention initiatives .

    The company promotes the technical education of children and students, among other things by awarding scholarships, educational events, increasing the number of apprenticeships and student internships.

    The ZF Friedrichshafen AG is on the TO Foundation founding partner of Zeppelin University (ZU).


    • Rudolf Herzfeldt: Business and Mission ZF. 50 years of the Friedrichshafen gear factory. Rudolf Herzfeldt Verlag, Wiesbaden 1965.
    • Stephan Paetrow: An eventful history. 100 years of ZF. ZF Friedrichshafen AG 1915 to 2015. Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg 2015, ISBN 978-3-455-50383-8 ( table of contents , book review in Südkurier );
      English edition: History in Motion - 100 Years of ZF. Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg 2015, ISBN 978-3-455-50392-0 .
    • Johannes Winterhagen: Moving technology. 100 years of ZF. ZF Friedrichshafen AG - 1915 to 2015. Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg 2015, ISBN 978-3-455-50384-5 ;
      English edition: Technology in Motion - 100 Years of ZF. Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg 2015, ISBN 978-3-455-50393-7 .


    • Drive for the world - ZF Friedrichshafen on Lake Constance. Documentary, Germany, 2015, 29:38 min., Script and director: Willy Meyer, production: SWR , series: made in Südwest , first broadcast: September 2, 2015 on SWR, synopsis by ARD .

    Web links

    Commons : ZF Friedrichshafen  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

    Individual evidence

    1. zf.com: The Board of Directors
    2. zf.com: The supervisory boards
    3. a b c d e ZF successfully completes acquisition of WABCO. ZF Friedrichshafen AG, accessed on June 2, 2020 .
    4. The top 100 automotive suppliers of 2018. In: www.automobil-industrie.de. Automobil Industrie / Vogel Communications Group, June 6, 2019, accessed on July 15, 2019 (white paper on market overview).
    5. a b c At a glance. ZF Friedrichshafen. In: zf.com , December 2015 (PDF; 28 p., 2.27 KB), p. 26.
    6. a b ZF Lemförder - a look back. ( Memento from January 10, 2016 in the Internet Archive ). In: zf.com , June 22, 2006 (PDF; 302 KB).
    7. 100 years of ZF Friedrichshafen AG: Global corporation in its anniversary year , press release from January 5, 2015.
    8. Uwe Berner (ZF Friedrichshafen AG): Responsibility for the past as a challenge. In: Forum Wirtschaftsethik , July 2001, No. 2, ISSN  0947-756X .
    9. Wilfried Geiselhart: Zero hour 60 years ago. ( Memento from April 18, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) In: Südkurier , April 28, 2004.
    10. The ZF story. End of war and occupation. In: ZF Friedrichshafen AG , 2016, accessed on April 2, 2016.
    11. Supporting members. In: DWT-SGW. Retrieved June 14, 2019 .
    12. automatic transmission. Tooth for tooth. In: Der Spiegel , No. 5 from January 26, 1970.
    13. rts / dpa: Record sales achieved. ZF Friedrichshafen on top. In: n-tv , December 14, 2010.
    14. Angela Maier: Berlin gives ZF credit. ( Memento from September 22, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) In: Financial Times Deutschland , September 16, 2009.
    15. "People will never forget that." ( Memento from September 13, 2012 in the web archive archive.today ). In: Schwäbische Zeitung , October 6, 2009.
    16. Andreas Veil: ZF secures a 96 percent majority stake in Hansen Transmissions International. In: Windkraft Journal , October 6, 2011.
    17. ZF realignment is taking shape. ( Memento of November 22, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Press release of August 1, 2011 and as PDF; 84 KB ( Memento from January 10, 2016 in the Internet Archive ).
    18. ZF Friedrichshafen takes over TRW Automotive ( Memento from March 4, 2016 in the Internet Archive ), press release from September 15, 2014.
    19. Andre Tauber: Takeover. ZF Friedrichshafen pays 9.6 billion for rivals. In: Die Welt , September 15, 2014.
    20. For 7 billion dollars: ZF Friedrichshafen buys brake manufacturer Wabco , FAZ of March 28, 2019, accessed on June 5, 2020.
    21. ZF separates from RH Sheppard on swp.de after Wabco takeover .
    22. 100 years of ZF high-tech with a history . In: Supplement to Südkurier from May 23, 2015, p. 12, graphic ZF Friedrichshafen AG: Numbers, data, facts . This summary refers to the 2014 annual report , ZF Friedrichshafen AG (PDF; 162 p., 6.15 MB).
    23. Annual Report 2016. In: zf.com , ZF Friedrichshafen AG (PDF; 138 p., 2.27 MB).
    24. a b At a glance. ZF Friedrichshafen. In: zf.com , December 2015 (PDF; 28 p., 2.27 KB), p. 20 f.
    25. ↑ Abridged version of the 2014 annual report: ZF Group / ZF Group. At a glance. ( Memento from March 31, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) In: ZF Friedrichshafen AG , December 2014, (PDF; 31 p., 2.5 MB), p. 18.
    26. a b c d e Annual Report 2019. In: zf.com (PDF; 11.8 MB).
    27. ZF takes over Bauknecht factory. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , July 4, 2011.
    28. Petrina Engelke ( dapd ): Takeover. GM separates from the transmission plant in Strasbourg. In: Handelsblatt , December 22, 2012.
    29. Guido Kruschke ( dpa ): Investor takes over GM gear plant in Strasbourg. ( Memento from September 23, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) In: automobil-produktion.de , January 6, 2013.
    30. The ZF Aftermarket brand portfolio In: zf.com , accessed on February 27, 2020.
    31. a b The group structure of ZF. In: zf.com , accessed January 10, 2016.
    32. Innovations that pay off. Industrial drives and actuating systems. In: Business Unit Special Drive Technology, zf.com (PDF; 2.66 MB), accessed on May 1, 2016.
    33. Faster, cheaper, safer. The modular product strategy Best Choice. In: zf.com , accessed May 1, 2016.
    34. a b c Annual Report 2014. In: ZF Friedrichshafen AG (PDF; 162 p., 6.15 MB).
    35. ↑ Auto supplier - Bosch takes over ZF Lenksysteme completely , FAZ, September 15, 2014.
    36. ^ Forschungsgesellschaft Kraftfahrwesen mbH Aachen (fka)
    37. ^ Hans Eckhard Thies - ZF Friedrichshafen AG. In: BAUM , Environmental Award 2008.
    38. Schwäbische Zeitung: ZF transmission makes city traffic even more environmentally friendly. In: Schwäbische.de. April 19, 2010, accessed December 30, 2018 .
    39. ^ "Big Deal" for the German economy. In: Stern.de , May 19, 2010.
    40. Sabine Meinert: Zeppelin University changes status. ( Memento of May 2, 2012 in the Internet Archive ). In: Financial Times Deutschland , December 20, 2007.
    41. ZF Music Prize. In: Internationaler Konzertverein Bodensee eV
    42. Kühne Konstruktionen - The airship pioneers Georg Baumgarten and Friedrich Wölfert ( Memento from November 3, 2013 in the Internet Archive ). In: Zeppelin Museum , exhibition from May 14th to July 11th 2010.
    43. ZF employees support aid project in India with 320,000 euros. In: Südkurier , May 13, 2009.
    44. Schwäbische Zeitung: “ZF helps”: Smallholders in Haiti receive 300,000 euros for the “Forest Gardens” project. In: Schwäbische.de. May 12, 2010, accessed December 30, 2018 .
    45. Alcohol, no thanks. In: Südkurier , June 21, 2007.
    46. Reopening of the WissensWerkstatt in Friedrichshafen. In: mitkid.de , accessed on January 10, 2016.
    47. ^ Brigitte Geiselhart: Knowledge workshop. Lust for technology. In: Südkurier , January 24, 2009.
    48. Knowledge workshop is taking shape. ( Memento from January 27, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) In: Südkurier , February 5, 2008.
    49. Björn Engel: Auto Industry. Urgently wanted - the best of the fastest. In: Die Welt , August 7, 2009.
    50. ^ ZF Race Camp 2015. ( Memento from March 4, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) In: rennteam-stuttgart.de , accessed on January 10, 2016.
    51. ↑ Schoolchildren and trainees. Your way into the job. In: zf.com , accessed January 10, 2016.
    52. Manfred Dieterle-Jöchle: ZF-Geist has supported the company's success for 100 years. In: Südkurier , May 1, 2015.

    Coordinates: 47 ° 40 ′ 3 ″  N , 9 ° 29 ′ 36 ″  E