ZF's Michael Paul: Combining competencies, resources will provide a complete hybrid line.
This is the result of the automaker's decision to join the General Motors-DaimlerChrysler hybrid alliance.
The German supplier has worked with BMW for several years to develop a hybrid transmission module. But BMW's September announcement means that a different BMW hybrid likely will be the first to reach the market.
Last month, ZF announced its own strategic partnership. It will work with Continental AG of Germany to produce hybrid drivelines.
The partnership could rival the GM-DaimlerChrysler-BMW consortium in offering ready-made hybrid technology to the world's automakers.
ZF officials are surprised and disappointed at BMW's move into the GM-DaimlerChrysler alliance.
"We have worked with BMW for many years," said an executive who did not wish to be named. "BMW has now decided to do its first step in cooperation with GM, so now we want to do a hybrid system in competition with the GM system."
BMW said it is following two lines of development for hybrids.
The one that involves ZF is the hybrid system shown on the X3 SUV at the Frankfurt auto show in September.
The system features supercapacitors that provide short, high-energy bursts of power to an electric motor during standing-start acceleration.
The other is a two-mode hybrid developed by the GM alliance.
Of the two, the GM system likely will be first to market, said BMW technology spokesman Daniel Kammerer. Nevertheless, Kammerer conceded that the hybrid made with ZF would be "more BMW-type" in character.
A BMW series-production hybrid car could debut in three to five years, Kammerer said.
ZF executives interviewed at the Frankfurt auto show said ZF's system is well-suited to European conditions. The ZF-BMW system, designed for high-end cars, had twin electric motors contained within a standard automatic transmission envelope, said Martin Sattler, ZF's electric drives general manager. Twin motors allow the combustion engine to be restarted without the vehicle occupants sensing it. A later version achieved the same smoothness using only one motor, Sattler said.
ZF and Continental say that by forming their alliance they will be able to start production of hybrid systems by 2007.
The deal between the suppliers covers the development, production and marketing of hybrid-related systems and components for passenger cars and light-commercial vehicles.
Michael Paul, ZF executive vice president, said that it makes sense for ZF, as a technology leader in drivelines, to take over system leadership in hybrid transmissions, too.
"The combination of technical competence and the resources of Continental and ZF will enable us to offer our customers a complete line of hybrid solutions," Paul said.
Under the agreement, ZF will handle the integration of the motors into the drivetrain. Continental's Temic division will be responsible for the electronics.
The consortium already is working with "most European OEMs that are not part of the GM-DaimlerChrysler alliance," a ZF source said.
Separately, the source said that in 2006 a "non-European" automaker will introduce a compact car with a hybrid variant of ZF's continuously variable transmission.