ZF Friedrichshafen AG
Company typePrivate Aktiengesellschaft
IndustryEngineering & manufacturing:
Automotive industry (car and CV),
rail transport,
marine engineering,
PredecessorZepernicker Zahnradfabrik
Founded20 August 1915; 108 years ago (1915-08-20)
Friedrichshafen, Baden-Württemberg
Number of locations
162 production locations in 31 countries
Area served
Key people
ProductsTransmission systems,[1]
steering, axle components, Electronic Systems, Advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), Inflatable Restraint Systems/Airbag, Seat Belt Systems, Brake Systems
ServicesDesign, Research and development
RevenueIncrease 46.6 billion (2023)[3]
Increase €763 million (2023)[3]
Decrease €126 million (2023)[3]
Total assetsIncrease €39.170 billion (2023)[3]
Total equityIncrease €7.512 billion (2023)[3]
Number of employees
Increase 167,738 (2023)[3]
DivisionsActive Safety Systems,[4] Car Chassis Technology, [4]
Electrified Powertrain Technology, [4]
Electronics & ADAS, [4]
Passive Safety Systems, [4]
Commercial Vehicle Solutions, [4]
Industrial Technology, [4]
Aftermarket [4]

ZF Friedrichshafen AG, also known as ZF Group, originally Zahnradfabrik Friedrichshafen, and commonly abbreviated to ZF (ZF = "Cogwheel Factory" = "Friedrichshafen"), is a global technology company that supplies systems for passenger cars, commercial vehicles and industrial technology. It is headquartered in Friedrichshafen, in the south-west German state of Baden-Württemberg. Specializing in engineering, it is primarily known for its design, research and development, and manufacturing activities in the automotive industry and is one of the largest automotive suppliers in the world. Its products include driveline and chassis technology for cars and commercial vehicles, along with specialist plant equipment such as construction equipment. It is also involved in the rail, marine, defense and aviation industries, as well as general industrial applications. ZF has 162 production locations in 31 countries with approximately 168,700 (2023) employees.

ZF Friedrichshafen is more than 90% owned by the Zeppelin Foundation, which is largely controlled by the town of Friedrichshafen.[5]


Ferdinand von Zeppelin in 1915, photograph by Theodor Hilsdorf

The company was founded in 1915 in Friedrichshafen, 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:


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[23]


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.[24] 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[buzzword] 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.

In 2022 ZF has announced carve-out of Passive Safety Systems. Carve-out is planned for 2024.

Business development

Dr. Holger Klein, CEO

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 and Robert Bosch GmbH.

In 2007 ZF Friedrichshafen managed to increase its business volume about 8% to billion. The operating profit was about million. In 2008 ZF had a profit of million from a total business volume of billion. During the financial crisis ZF was one of the companies hit most. Its business volume decreased in turnover to billion. Total loss was about 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 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 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.[25]

On 16 September 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that ZF agreed to acquire TRW Automotive Holdings for $13.5 billion. The acquisition would create the world's second largest automotive parts concern, ranked just behind Robert Bosch GmbH.[26] For clearing way to acquire TRW Automotive Holdings, ZF Friedrichshafen AG sold its stake in ZF Lenksysteme GmbH to Robert Bosch GmbH.[27] ZF Lenksysteme GmbH has now been renamed as Robert Bosch Automotive Steering GmbH.[28]

In September 2020, ZF Friedrichshafen AG entered a partnership with Aeva Inc to put Lidar sensors, a sensor for self-driving vehicles, into production.[29]

Business organisations

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

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. ^ a b c "ZF divisions and business units – Organization". ZF Friedrichshafen AG. ZF.com. Archived from the original on 23 March 2018. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  2. ^ "ZF ZF Supervisory Board appoints Dr. Holger Klein Chairman and CEO of ZF Friedrichshafen AG". ZF Friedrichshafen AG.
  3. ^ a b c d e f ZF Friedrichshafen AG. "Annual Report 2022" (PDF). ZF.com. Retrieved 21 March 2023.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h ZF Friedrichshafen AG. "Corporate Structure". ZF.com. Retrieved 21 March 2023.
  5. ^ "ZF Friedrichshafen AG Company Profile – D&B Hoovers". hoovers.com.
  6. ^ "August 1944 Missions". www.15thaf.org.
  7. ^ "August 1944". 461st Bombardment Group Association. 461st.org. Retrieved 19 September 2009.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ ZF Tradition Archived 14 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine official website
  10. ^ "8-speed automatic". Lexus-Europe. Lexus.eu. 2009. Retrieved 19 September 2009.[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ ZF develops 8-speed automatic transmission for passenger cars gizmag.com, 6. June 2010
  12. ^ "The freedom to exceed limits". ZF Friedrichshafen AG. Archived from the original on 19 April 2021. Retrieved 18 September 2009.
  13. ^ "Fuel saving and minimizing CO2 emissions". ZF Friedrichshafen AG. Archived from the original on 19 July 2009. Retrieved 18 September 2009.
  14. ^ "ZF Develops 9-Speed Automatic Transmission for Passenger Cars". Retrieved 12 January 2011.
  15. ^ "ZF Opens Passenger Car Transmission Plant in the U.S." Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  16. ^ Reuters TRW Takeover
  17. ^ "Acquisition perfect: ZF acquires industrial gears and wind turbine gearbox segment from Bosch Rexroth". ZF Friedrichshafen AG.
  18. ^ "ZF to acquire software specialist for occupant recognition". Autocar Professional.
  19. ^ "ZF to acquire WABCO". Autocar Professional. Archived from the original on 19 August 2013. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  20. ^ "Mercedes Delayed US Deliveries of Its Electric EQC To Focus on EU Sales, But There Doesn't Seem To Be Any". Jalopnik. 5 January 2020.
  21. ^ Sommerfeldt, Nando (3 January 2020). "Nur 19 Autos im November zugelassen – Mercedes' elektrischer Hoffnungsträger floppt". Die Welt.
  22. ^ "ZF Completes WABCO Acquisition". PR Newswire. 29 May 2020. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  23. ^ product overview Archived 28 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine official website, 2010
  24. ^ AS Tronic Archived 10 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine pdf, May 2010
  25. ^ "ZF erwartet Verlust". Auto, Motor und Sport. 16 July 2009. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
  26. ^ Boston, William (16 September 2014). "Merger creates auto-parts colossus". The Wall Street Journal. p. B1.
  27. ^ Boston, William (15 September 2014). "Bosch Agrees to Buy German Auto-Parts Supplier's Share in Steering Venture". The Wall Street Journal.
  28. ^ "Details Bosch Automotive Steering". Archived from the original on 20 July 2016. Retrieved 26 August 2022.
  29. ^ Nellis, Stephen (8 September 2020). "Aeva partners with auto supplier ZF to produce key self-driving sensors". Reuters. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  30. ^ locations worldwide Archived 5 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine official website, 2010
  31. ^ locations worldwide Archived 6 July 2010 at the Wayback Machine official website, 2010