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July 20, 2022 1:52 PM, EDT

ZF Outlines Path Ahead for CV Business

ZFA rendering of ZF's steer-by-wire technology. (ZF Friedrichshafen AG)

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ZF Friedrichshafen AG, a global supplier to commercial vehicles and passenger cars, recently showcased its efforts with automation, steer-by-wire, a modular electric driveline and AI-based transport-as-a-service (TaaS) and reported its new commercial vehicle solutions division is up and running, with orders for technology coming in.

“ZF’s latest annual global technology showcase once again demonstrates how well-positioned ZF is to meet challenges and maximize opportunities for the future,” ZF CEO Wolf-Henning Scheider said.

This comes as the Germany-based company emphasized its advance from components manufacturing to integrated automation solutions.

In related news, ZF, an auto parts supplier to the likes of BMW AG, is exploring a partial sale of its axle-assembly business amid an industrywide shift to electric vehicles, Bloomberg News recently reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

No stranger to dealmaking, ZF became one of the world’s largest auto-parts makers after agreeing to buy TRW Automotive for $12.9 billion in 2015, Bloomberg added. Five years later, it completed its $7 billion acquisition of Wabco Holdings Inc. to add commercial vehicle technology.

ZF announced the new CV division in January.

Wabco

“ZF is now positioning itself as the world’s largest component and system supplier for the commercial vehicle industry,” Wilhelm Rehm, a member of the ZF board with responsibility for the new division, said at the time.

ZF described its commercial vehicle solutions division as supported by 25,000 employees across 61 locations in 28 countries.

In its showcase, ZF pointed out steer-by-wire technology cuts across commercial and passenger vehicles.

Steer-by-wire technology transmits driver commands to the steering system entirely through electrical signals, removing the mechanical link between the steering wheel and front axle. Going forward, by-wire technology is expected to play an increasingly pivotal role in all aspects of vehicle motion control — longitudinally, transversely and vertically, according to the company.

“ZF’s new steer-by-wire technology is an important precondition for advanced automation in passenger cars and, true to our ‘develop once, deploy anywhere’ guiding philosophy, will also be applied to commercial vehicle automation,” added Scheider.

The company reported its modular electric driveline, CeTrax 2, for heavy-duty commercial vehicles will go into series production with a global vehicle manufacturer next year.

The new system combines a power-to-weight ratio and a highly integrated compact design that enables a high, sustained output of 360 kW and improved efficiency through powershift gear changes. It also features a hairpin design for the stator, an innovative cooling system and a silicon carbide-based inverter, adapted from ZF’s passenger car expertise.

Scheider

“ZF’s latest annual global technology showcase once again demonstrates how well-positioned ZF is to meet challenges and maximize opportunities for the future,” Scheider said.

ZF also debuted its Scalar digital solutions platform for commercial vehicle fleets that enables TaaS. It is a fully automated, AI-based planning, routing and dispatching solution. It combines and connects technologies on board commercial vehicles and third-party systems with artificial intelligence.

ZF, at the upcoming IAA Transportation trade fair in Germany in September, will also unveil how it is leveraging its autonomous driving open platform technology to provide full end-to-end yard automation solutions. Adopt 2.0 focuses on low-speed yard automation applications up to 20 km/h (12.4 miles per hour). In addition, ZF will also showcase Adopt 3.0, which enables hub-to-hub highway applications at speeds up to 80 km/h (49.7mph).

“By increasing diversification, entering new markets, achieving greater technology penetration and pursuing our proven sustainability strategy, significant progress has been achieved by ZF at the very forefront of e-mobility, automation and connected, software-defined vehicles,” added Scheider.

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