GLASGOW, Scotland – ZF Fried-richshafen is known primarily as a manufacturer of manual and automatic transmissions as well as other driveline components.
But in the four years since acquiring chassis maker Mannesmann Sachs, ZF also has become a key player in the chassis business. ZF’s chassis business represented about half the company’s total 2004 worldwide sales of E9.9 billion, according to the company.
CEO Siegfried Goll wants the chassis business to account for 60 percent of sales within five years.
“Now we have a balance between transmissions and chassis,” Goll said at a press event here. “In the next five years, we would like to expand the chassis business.”
ZF production of chassis systems has grown dramatically. Mannes-mann Sachs made 85,000 chassis sets in 1996. By 2004, that number had grown to 966,000, ZF said.
According to company forecasts, ZF will produce 1.3 million systems this year.
German automakers are the backbone of ZF’s total sales.
The company supplies axle systems for the Mercedes M class and R class plus BMW’s Z4 and X5. But recently ZF broadened its customer base by winning contracts to provide chassis systems for the Land Rover Discovery and Range Rover Sport.
ZF’s six-speed automatic transmissions are used in European luxury vehicles such as the Audi A4, A6 and A8; Aston Martin DB9; Bentley Continental GT; and BMW’s entire lineup.
Goll says ZF is working on automatic transmissions with more speeds, but they will not be available for two years.
The CEO also said ZF can increase its North American revenue – now about 16 percent of the total – to 20 percent in a few years. He said growth will come from Ford Motor Co. and General Motors as well as Asian transplants in the US. Goll said North American growth will come primarily from the chassis side.