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Wikipedia: ZF Friedrichshafen

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Corporate Name: ZF Friedrichshafen AG
Founded: 20 August 1915

A manufacturer of transmissions and steering components based in Friedrichshafen, Germany. Commonly known as simply ZF or ZF Group.


The following section is an excerpt from Wikipedia's ZF Friedrichshafen page on 4 January 2017, text available via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

ZF Friedrichshafen AG, also known as ZF Group, and commonly abbreviated to ZF (ZF = "Zahnradfabrik" = "Gear Factory"), is a German car parts maker headquartered in Friedrichshafen, in the south-west German region of Baden-Württemberg.

Specialising in engineering, it is primarily known for its design, research and development, and manufacturing activities in the automotive industry. It is a worldwide supplier of driveline and chassis technology for cars and commercial vehicles, along with specialist plant equipment such as construction equipment. It is also involved in rail, marine, defence and aviation industries, as well as general industrial applications. ZF has 230 production locations in 40 countries with approximately 138,000 employees.

The company was founded in 1915 in Friedrichshafen, Germany by Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH, to produce gears for Zeppelins and other airships. Zeppelin was unable to otherwise obtain gears for his airships. The German Zahnradfabrik (ZF) translates to 'gear factory' in English.

By 1919, ZF had moved into the automobile market, a move consolidated by the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. Some of the most important milestones that followed:

  • 1920: Patent application submitted for the Soden pre-selector transmission.
  • 1921: Under a rampant inflation and investor fears, the company goes public as the Zahnradfabrik Friedrichshafen AG, with the Zeppelin Luftschiffbau GmbH holding 80% of the stock options, valued at 4 million Marks.
  • 1929: A thriving auto industry warrants the series production of the innovative helical ZF Aphon transmission for cars and commercial vehicles.
  • 1932: Launch of steering systems production under license. Today: ZF Lenksysteme GmbH.
  • 1944: On 3 August, the Zahnradfabrik was bombed by the Fifteenth Air Force as a secondary target. As early as 20 September 1942, Albert Speer had warned Hitler of how important the Friedrichshafen tank engine production and the Schweinfurt ball-bearing facilities were.
  • 1953: Market launch of the first fully synchronised transmission for commercial vehicles worldwide.
  • 1961: Development of a fully automatic transmission for passenger cars. With series production beginning in 1969, and later proving highly popular, the 3HP20 is built to be swappable with the company's manual transmissions. The 1960s sees ZF supplying transmissions to major German automakers (including DKW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and BMW) as well as Peugeot and Alfa Romeo.
  • 1977: Start of volume production for automatic transmissions for commercial vehicles. Worldwide subsidiaries and factories were opened in the 1970s, and the company moved into India and South Korea.
  • 1980s: ZF started operating in Asia in the mid 80s
  • 1984: Majority shareholding gained in Lemförder Metallwaren AG, today ZF Lemförder GmbH.
  • 1986: Start of USA transmission production in Gainesville, Georgia, for pickup trucks. ZF became a major supplier to Ford in the 1980s.
  • 1991: The 5HP18 was the first 5-speed automatic transmission for passenger cars. Introduced in 1991 on the BMW E36 320i/325i and E34 5 Series
  • 1994: Development of an automatic transmission system for heavy commercial vehicles. The company expanded into China in the 1990s.
  • 1999: World premiere for the first automatic 6-speed transmission. Series production begins in 2001, with the BMW 7 Series as the first client. Today, ZF produces around one million six-speed automatic transmissions annually.
  • 2001: Acquisition of Mannesmann Sachs AG. Today: ZF Sachs AG.
  • 2001: Active Roll Stabilization(ARS) premiere on BMW 7 Series (E65)
  • 2002: Presentation of the world's first 4-point link – a newly developed chassis module for trucks and buses.
  • 2003: First deliveries of the Active Steering systems for passenger cars.
  • 2004: Ford starts volume production of the continuously variable transmissions (CVT) for passenger cars developed by ZF.
  • 2005: The 10-millionth airbag casing, the 5-millionth passenger car axle system and the 2-millionth 'Servolectric' electric power steering system are delivered.
  • 2006: ZF produces the 10-millionth passenger car automatic transmission.
  • 2007: One of the world's first 8-speed automatic transmissions, the 8HP boasted to achieve an 11% improvement in fuel economy in comparison with standard 6-speed automatic transmissions. Production began in 2009.
  • 2008: Acquisition of the Cherry Corporation. Incorporated into the ZF Electronics GmbH Corporate Division.
  • 2011: World premiere for the first automatic 9-speed transmission.
  • 2011: Production of 8-speed automatic transmission begins in Chrysler-owned plant in Kokomo, Indiana, USA, to supply Chrysler with RWD transmissions.

  • Land Rover will demonstrate the world's first nine-speed automatic transmission for a passenger car at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show. The ZF 9HP transmission is designed for transverse applications, and is one of the most efficient and technically advanced transmissions ever used in a production vehicle. Land Rover is the lead partner with ZF on this project.

  • 2013: Jeep announces that ZF has developed a nine-speed automatic transmission for use in its all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee (KL) midsized crossover utility vehicle.
  • 2013: ZF Opens Passenger Car Transmission Plant in the U.S.
  • 2014: Acquires American auto parts manufacturer TRW Automotive for $13.5 billion.
  • 2015: Acquires industrial gears and wind turbine gearbox segment from Bosch Rexroth (previously Lohmann & Stolterfoht).

  • Article Index

    21 March 2005Research and Markets: Study the New 2005 Company Profile of ZF Friedrichshafen AG TodayResearch and Markets
    3 May 2007Eight-Speed Automatic Transmission DevelopedAnthony Fontanelle
    28 November 2012Foreign-Trade Zone 38--Spartanburg County, South Carolina; Notification of Proposed Production Activity; ZF Transmissions Gray Court, LLC, (Automatic Transmissions), Gray Court, SCFederal Register: Foreign-Trade Zones Board (Elizabeth Whiteman)
    15 May 2015ZF Friedrichshafen AG and TRW Automotive Holdings Corp; Analysis of Proposed Consent Order To Aid Public CommentFederal Register: Federal Trade Commission (Donald S. Clark)
    22 November 2016Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) 38--Spartanburg County, South Carolina; Notification of Proposed Production Activity; ZF Transmissions Gray Court, LLC; (Automatic Transmission and Powertrain Subassemblies and Parts, Transmission Shafts and Cranks); Gray Court, South CarolinaFederal Register: DoC (Andrew McGilvray)
    14 March 2017Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) 38--Spartanburg County, South Carolina, Authorization of Production Activity, ZF Transmissions Gray Court, LLC, (Automatic Transmission and Powertrain Subassemblies and Parts, Transmission Shafts and Cranks), Gray Court, South CarolinaFederal Register: DoC (Andrew McGilvray)
    30 July 2019Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) 38--Spartanburg County, South Carolina; Notification of Proposed Production Activity; ZF Chassis Systems Duncan, LLC, (Automotive Suspension Systems), Duncan, South CarolinaFederal Register: DoC (Elizabeth Whiteman)


    DateDocument Name & DetailsDocuments
    3 July 2012Shifting Device for a Manual Transmission
    United States Patent US 8,210,067
    Uwe Beer for ZF Friedrichshafen

    - 720KB - 8 pages
    23 April 2013Method for Riveting Two Cover Plate Elements of a Torsional Vibration Damper Arrangement
    United States Patent US 8,424,185
    Christian Wickel for ZF Friedrichshafen AG

    - 1.3MB - 16 pages

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