ZF Friedrichschafen AG, Germany, is set to introduce production of its 8-speed 8HP automatic transmission to its plant in Shanghai, China, as it seeks to expand its presence in the country. The group currently offers its Chinese customers a number of high-tech solutions for e-mobility and autonomous driving, and is now said to be enlarging its customer base with Chinese manufacturers and new mobility providers.
By enabling the development and manufacture of its complete product portfolio within China, ZF hopes to better support the local market. The group opened its first Chinese production site in 1994, and now operates thirty-two, with several additional plants planned and a significant expansions to its development capacity within the country underway.
“Our strategy for the Chinese automotive market is called ‘local for local’,” explained Dr Holger Klein, ZF Board Member, responsible for the Asia-Pacific region, with China as its core market. “Almost all of our customers will expand their business in China in the coming years. We will support them in this by offering our entire portfolio locally – from development services to local just-in-sequence delivery.”
“We will increase our degree of localisation in China up to 100% in the coming years,” he continued. “With our innovations and high-tech products, we will have an even stronger presence in the future.”
Introducing production of its 8-speed 8HP automatic transmission to the Shanghai plant, where automatic transmissions have been produced since 2004, will enable ZF to supply local customers with its flagship product for passenger cars, as well as variants of the 8HP for plug-in hybrid drives. In the future, ZF stated that it will endeavour to produce purely electric drives in China; production facilities for this are currently under way.
Further, to meet local production demand for passenger car electric power steering systems in China, ZF is reported to be building a new steering plant in Zhanjiagang – set to be the largest of ZF’s thirty-two plants in China to date. ZF will also serve the commercial vehicle market more locally from China: a joint venture with commercial vehicle manufacturer Foton will see production of ZF’s TraXon automatic and hybrid commercial vehicle transmission begin in the near future. To support this venture, a joint production plant has been built south of Shanghai
ZF will also increase the number of its personnel to be based in China, adding 1,000 engineers at two development centres in the Shanghai area to expand its local development capacity. The new centres and staff will be integrated within the group’s global research and development network, and this is expected to allow new product developments and innovations much faster entry into the Chinese market.
In 2018, ZF generated sales of more than $6 billion in China, from activities ranging from driveline and chassis technology to active and passive safety technology for both passenger cars and commercial vehicles, as well as driveline technology for construction and agricultural machinery. It currently employs around 15,000 staff in the country.