ZF Friedrichshafen looks to further growth in North America with new transmission plant

January 18, 2011

ZF Friedrichshafen AG experienced sales growth of more than 50% in North America last year, and the German headquartered company expects 2011 to continue this upward trend.


Cut away image of the 8-speed automatic transmission

produced by ZF (courtesy ZF Friedrichshafen)

The 8-speed automatic transmission supply and license agreement with Chrysler will significantly assist this growth. For this purpose, ZF is building a new transmission plant in Greenville, South Carolina, the first ZF plant to make car transmissions in the USA. The 9-speed automatic transmission presented to the public at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) will also be produced at this plant.

“We are growing in our traditional markets and in new ones,” stated Hans-Georg Härter, ZF’s CEO. “The prospects on the re-emerging American market are very good for our consumption-reducing products.”

About 5100 employees currently work for ZF at 20 production sites in North America. Last year, a plant for the production of axles and axle drives was opened in Marysville, Michigan. The Florence, Kentucky plant, at which electric steering systems are made, is presently being expanded. The Vernon Hills, Illinois site was expanded to meet aftermarket and service needs.

The ground-breaking ceremony for a new car transmission plant in Greenville/South Carolina will take place in February this year.

In contrast to 2009, the sales growth of ZF in 2010 was high in all regions, above all in the BRIC states (Brazil, Russia, India, and China). In Europe, the increase in the production of automobiles is chiefly export-driven; CV business has picked up pace noticeably in the course of the year and this trend is sustained by a stable order situation. In Russia, the ZF Kama joint venture (truck transmission production) hiked sales sharply. In China, the growing market for premium cars has led to an increasing demand for automatic transmissions and electric steering systems. ZF has also been successful in winning new customers in the Chinese construction machinery business.

The ZF Group is also making great strides in terms of investment. The investment program for 2011 boasts about one billion euros. “We are making massive investments in our technological leadership and global presence,” says Härter, ZF’s CEO. ZF will also stick to its role as innovative spearhead: R&D expenses in 2011 will amount to about 750 million euros.

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