MOTEGI, Japan -- German supplier ZF Friedrichshafen AG, which agreed to buy TRW Automotive Holdings in September for $13.5 billion, expects the combined company's sales of driver-assist safety systems to grow 15 to 25 percent a year.
Those technologies, which will underpin tomorrow's autonomous cars, also will be the "major" part of the combined company's $2.1 billion r&d budget, ZF CEO Stefan Sommer said.
"I expect it will be the strongest growth technology in the total product portfolio," Sommer said this month at a racing event here, just north of Tokyo. "It will be the major part of future development technology."
The merger, which Sommer expects to close in the second quarter of 2015, combines ZF's expertise in hardware such as transmissions and chassis systems with TRW's in software-driven active- and passive-safety and steering technologies.
Sommer said it was too early to give a detailed r&d investment plan for the combined supplier, which would rank as the world's No. 2 parts maker behind German rival Robert Bosch GmbH.
But it will be an r&d juggernaut. Besides their mammoth development budgets, TRW has 13 test tracks and 22 technology centers worldwide on top of ZF's eight r&d hubs.
The companies plan to set up joint r&d projects in certain areas and exchange employees in North America and Europe.